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Health firm picks Compellent SAN over HP, NetApp

A health-supplement company chose Compellent's SAN over offerings from bigger vendors based on its performance and ease of management.

The chief information officer (CIO) of a nutritional health-supplement company tested Compellent Technologies Inc.'s Storage Center SAN against systems from Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. and NetApp, and picked Compellent based on its performance and ease of use.

Matt Vance, CIO for Park City, Utah-based Nutraceutical Corp., says his team went looking for a SAN last year because provisioning and maintaining DAS took up too much time. Nutraceutical brought in Compellent Storage Center, an HP Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) 4400 system and a NetApp FAS3020 for performance testing.

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Vance's shop runs approximately 200 servers -- most of them virtualized -- across production and test/development environments. He manages approximately 50 TB of raw storage capacity, mostly in databases divided between headquarters and a disaster recovery (DR) site. His team tested the systems by adding trays of disks as they benchmarked performance. "Compellent was the closest to linear performance as we added disks," says Vance.

To test the arrays, the company used a Sybase database on a Windows operating system with a mix of queries and update commands, divided almost evenly between reads and writes. The reads were divided between sequential and random. The arrays were configured by the vendors (in the case of Compellent and NetApp) or by a reseller (for HP).

With up to 45 drives in a RAID 10 configuration, the Compellent sustained 4,288 IOPS. NetApp's array, with 14 drives in a RAID-DP (RAID 6) configuration, sustained 1,945 IOPS. With 41 drives, the performance was 2,413 IOPS. "They offered to 'throw in' another tray of disks, which we turned down for the obviously non-linear results," says Vance.

HP's array, with 24 drives in RAID 5, ranged from 1,000 IOPS to 2,009 sustained IOPS over several tests. All of the arrays used 146 GB or 300 GB 15,000 rpm Fibre Channel (FC) drives.

Vance and his admins were intrigued by Compellent's built-in storage virtualization and management features, including thin provisioning, snapshots, replication for disaster recovery and automated tiered storage (which Compellent calls Data Progression).

"There were two things we attributed the increased Compellent performance to that weren't options in the [HP EVA] 4400: RAID 10 and their fast track option combined with data progression," says Vance. "Combining the RAID 10 with fast track allows you to only waste space where it's worth it for I/O performance, and lets the SAN manage when it isn't worth the extra space required for RAID 10."

While the HP EVA 4400 also virtualizes storage and NetApp's arrays come with built-in data protection features, Vance says the Compellent array's provisioning flexibility stood out. "We're not locked into definitions on any volume," he says. "On the HP, you need to define a new volume and migrate everything if you change your mind. With the Compellent, if you want to change a volume, you just do it—you don't have to redo everything."

What used to be a few hours per day spent managing DAS has dropped "to near zero," notes Vance.

However, there are still some items on his wish list, including solid-state drives, which Compellent pledges to support this year. "[That] will be excellent with the Data Progression," says Vance.

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