Technology Partners vSAN

Business Critical Applications: All-Flash or Hybrid Virtual SAN?

I’m pleased to offer a guest post from one of our highly-valued partners on a number of initiatives, including Virtual SAN and vSphere APIs for IO Filtering (VAIO): SanDisk. This post previews additional tests SanDisk has run with Business Critical Applications on Virtual SAN, this time looking at the performance from all-flash configurations and how that compares on price and performance to hybrid. 

by Patric Chang, Senior Director of SanDisk’s Strategic Partner Ecosystems


Since the launch of Virtual SAN 6.2, the interest in all-flash Virtual SAN has shot up dramatically. It seems that customers are now considering an all-flash Virtual SAN solution first and only move to hybrid if they believe the all-flash option is too pricey.

At the launch of Virtual SAN 6, we at SanDisk, together with VMware and one of our OEM partners, showcased the first all-flash VSAN reference architecture for running business-critical applications. Subsequently, we received many requests to provide a fair comparison on the performance and costs of running business-critical applications on all-flash versus hybrid Virtual SAN configurations.

To answer this demand, we took one of our all-flash reference architectures, utilizing four industry-standard servers that are available as Virtual SAN Ready Nodes, and worked together with ESG to compare this architecture with a hybrid configuration. The two configurations used all the same components except that flash drives were utilized in the place of HDDs in the all-flash version.

Biswa Bhattacharjee has just posted a SanDisk blog here discussing the test results and how we decided to select the workload and working set size in order to provide a fair basis for comparing the two configurations. Let me summarize our testing environment and the results.


Testing configuration

Here is a diagram showing the test bed utilized for the performance tests:

SandDisk Test Configuration

Each of the eight VMs shown in the above diagram were configured with a SQL Server 2014 database. To generate the OLTP 5000 Warehouse workload, eight HammerDB instances were run by load injectors outside the Virtual SAN cluster. Each instance was configured with 256 users for a total of 2,048 users. The tests were started with a ramp up time of 5 minutes to reach steady state operations. On reaching steady state, the test ran for 30 minutes. The performance of the all-flash and hybrid systems were measured in New Orders per Minute (NOPMs) was then an aggregate of all the instances across the cluster.

This is summarized in the following chart:

Performance Results

As you can see, the all-flash configuration delivered 49% more NOPMs.


Calculating the Cost of Performance

We then calculated the Total Cost of Acquisition (TCA) for each configuration. Doing this is always a challenge given the variance in prices depending where you procure your systems and software. For this reason street prices, which are available online, were used.

Naturally, the all-flash Virtual SAN came out to be pricier when looking at the cost of purchase. However, when we compared the price vs. performance, specifically the cost per NOPM, the all-flash Virtual SAN delivered a superior price/performance by 26%!

In summary, the all-flash Virtual SAN configuration delivered the better performance AND better price performance. Better yet, customers will see even more cost savings in terms of power and cooling savings as well as quicker recovery times. ESG also observed less variability between the VMs in terms of performance. For many customer workloads, this is a significant QoS benefit. You can see the results as illustrated by the diagram below:

Individual VM Performance

Here is a summary from ESG Lab report on why this result matters:

ESG Commentary

What’s Ahead for All-Flash Virtual SAN

When we started this project, Virtual SAN 6.2 was not available. We plan to repeat the comparison using Virtual SAN 6.2 deduplication and compression features that will reduce the amount of storage capacity needed when compared to a hybrid Virtual SAN. By using these features, the price performance will be even more compelling using all-flash for these types of workloads. We’re very excited about this!


Join VMware and SanDisk for All-Flash Virtual SAN Webinars!

If you’re looking to learn more about all-flash Virtual SAN and running VDI and business-critical applications with the speed of flash, here are two great opportunities:

WEBINAR: How to Better Run Business Applications on VMware Virtual SAN 6: ESG Lab Results 

May 11 at 10:00 am PT

I am hosting a webinar with Jack Poller from ESG and Jase McCarty from VMware. We will share more details about the details of this study and you’ll have the opportunity to learn:

  • Key features, highlights and benefits of VMware Virtual SAN 6
  • Hybrid and All-Flash Virtual SAN Configurations with SanDisk SSDs
  • Performance results (NOPM) of Hybrid and All-Flash Virtual SAN
  • Price/performance and comparisons between Hybrid and All-Flash Virtual SAN configurations

More information and registration here.

SPICEWORKS WEBINAR: Virtual desktops and business critical applications at the speed of flash
May 25 at 11 am CT 

 Additionally, Jase McCarty and I will join Supermicro, a SanDisk OEM partner, and the SpiceWorks community to discuss VDI and business-critical applications at the speed of flash. Here’s what you can expect to walk away with:

  • Benefits of optimizing BCA’s (Business Critical Applications) and Virtual Desktop performance and user experience with VMware Virtual SAN (VMware’s software defined storage solution for Hyper-Converged Infrastructure
  • Insight into powering a high performance and scalable Virtual SAN environment
  • Results from Real-world testing revealing how the evolution of hyper-converged infrastructure can deliver: financial efficiencies, higher levels of server and application performance, and scale

For more information and to register for the webinar, go here.

Please join us in one or both of these webinars to discover how to take advantage of all-flash VSAN Ready Nodes for your business-critical applications or VDI Desktop projects. I look forward to seeing you there!


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