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Networking solutions and database consolidation

I'm considering implementing a NAS solution to consolidate database storage on Solaris and Windows. I have two questions about this.

1. How does SQL server perform when running over SMB/CIFS and NFS simultaneously compared with the performance of onboard storage?

2. What considerations should I take into account when looking at network storage solutions for databases?


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When comparing performance like your first question relates to there is always a simple answer, it depends. I know that sounds like a supercilious answer but it succinctly conveys the fact that there are a very large number of variables that any of which could greatly skew the outcome. Rarely would things be held equal with comparing inboard storage vs. NAS. In general though, if the same disk technology is used, the inboard disk will be faster simply because it doesn't have all the overhead and doesn't have to go over a network and compete for resources. But, you don't get the sharing capability and other features that may be provided with the remote file serving capability of NAS. So, it depends.

You really need to understand your environment and your requirements and not take any external input that may be a quick but rash answer.

The second part is about using databases on NAS. First, see if that is a supported configuration (by the database vendor) and then look at that vendor's recommendations. Typically they have some tuning recommendations regarding buffering and other such "knobs" that are different if you are using NAS. Finally, ask the NAS vendor for some references who have done something similar to what you are doing. That can be very useful and reassuring (usually or they wouldn't have given you their name).

One consideration I make without hesitation today is to look at using the TCP/IP accelerators (a/k/a TOEs) that are network cards that accelerate the network I/O operations and vastly improve performance.

Randy Kerns
Evaluator Group, Inc.

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This was first published in May 2003

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