Storage industry-standard benchmark announced

A consortium of vendors says it has developed the first industry-standard storage benchmark. Is it a panacea? Hardly. But, it is a step in the right direction, he says.

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The Storage Performance Council announced Monday, the first industry-standard storage benchmark of its kind for direct attach and network storage subsystems. The new benchmark, dubbed SPC-1, gives customers a vendor-neutral process to compare and configure storage subsystem technology.

The SPC is an industry standards organization which builds benchmarks for the storage industry. Its members include major vendors such as Adaptec, Compaq, Dell, Hitachi, IBM, Sun, Unisys and Veritas.

The SPC has constructed a complete test kit for SPC-1 that evaluates performance and price/performance of storage subsystems using a variety of host platforms and storage network topologies. The kit is expected to be released to vendors early next year.

"Others have tried, but this is the first serious effort at a benchmark," said Ron Johnson, senior partner, The Evaluator Group. "You've got the big names deciding on one standard. They've agreed upon a set. We think it's significant."

According to Johnson, the benchmark, if it does nothing else, will take some of the confusion out of the market.

"You [a vendor] could "cook" a benchmark to make yourself look good," he said. . "Because of those variables, there was no way for a user to know what was real. The SPC is laying down very strict criteria. It'll give a real-world view of the performance subsystem and how they're applied in storage networks. Is it a panacea? No. Is it a step forward? Yes. Users just want some realistic numbers. They've been waiting for this forever."

To ensure authenticity, accuracy and compliance, the SPC requires completion of its result validation process -- including audit certification and peer review -- before results become official.

This benchmark is targeted to have broad market appeal for providers and consumers of storage networking technology, the SPC said. As such, SPC-1 is characterized as a random access environment for server class computer systems and is modeled after the most ubiquitous applications in the market today -- Web servers, database servers and e-mail servers.

"Customers have sought a workload environment that is prominent, metrics that are realistic and usable and an implementation that is representative of sophisticated I/O applications", said Alan Cade, vice president of Technical Operations at Hitachi Data Systems.

"The SPC's formation of industry-standard, cross-platform benchmarks allows storage vendors to be evaluated on equal terms against one another," said Mark Delsman, chief technology officer at Adaptec. "This will be of immense value to resellers and IT end users."

According to the SPC, the group's first objective was to build a high-quality benchmark that would have the broadest possible appeal in the online enterprise storage market. A key future objective for the SPC is to build a benchmark primarily focused on sequential I/O processing that will represent applications like backup/restore and video on demand. The SPC has also created a working group to begin the development of a benchmark suited for Network Attached Storage (NAS) subsystems.

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