Serial-attached SCSI (SAS) drives offer a higher level of performance vs. SATA drives, which have become ubiquitous in lower priced arrays. In recent months, several storage vendors have introduced arrays supporting both drive types, such as Gateway's E-842R SAN and EqualLogic's PS3000 Series.
Andrew Monroe, IT manager at AirClic, a mobile information services company in Newtown, PA, says his storage consists of various types of databases all with different I/O patterns. He figured that moving from SATA to SAS drives would alleviate performance bottlenecks and the new EqualLogic SAS drives definitely improved performance, he says. Monroe admitted, however, that before using the PS3000 he didn't know exactly what type of performance improvement to expect. "We could only guess," he says. Monroe relies on Oracle tools to improve the performance of his databases.
Akorri Networks, Littleton, MA, a new software development company just coming out of stealth mode, believes the most important performance metric "is how the application performs against its SLA [service-level agreement]," says Cynthia Gallant, Akorri's VP of marketing and business development.
Akorri's BalancePoint product suite, scheduled for release this month, is designed to help storage admins understand how the devices in the app's data path affect its performance, such as the data tier (array, switch and data servers), app tier (app servers and Web servers) and network tier (firewall, router and Internet). In other words, if you want to increase an app's performance, instead of upgrading to SAS drives, you may get a better ROI by investing in a fatter network pipe or adding more memory to your app servers.
Akorri's "secret sauce" is its proprietary algorithms, which examine an app's workload and analyze the infrastructure's ability to service the app. The more BalancePoint is used, the bigger its database of I/O information becomes, which results in better performance improvement recommendations, says Gallant. Of course, everyone's mileage will vary and there's no way to verify Akorri's claims without testing the product. Akorri founder and CTO Rich Corley says several users have installed BalancePoint in their production environments and were seeing great results; none, however, was made available to talk to in the timeframe for this article.
Akorri has set an ambitious goal to track an app's performance throughout the entire storage, server and network infrastructure. However, the program needs the ability to talk to every device in the app's data path; that can be tricky when dealing with legacy devices and storage products that aren't SMI-S compliant. Based on the information BalancePoint collects, it can make recommendations on how to not only increase performance, but plan for future growth. The program also provides an early warning about potential application brownouts due to resource misalignment or contention. If Akorri delivers on its goal, it has the potential to become an important storage resource management tool.