Mythics Blog

Review of the ZS3 Storage Appliances:  Incredible Performance and Efficiencies

Posted on July 23, 2014 by Randy Hardee

Tags: Mythics Consulting, Oracle Storage Appliance

As you know, the Oracle Storage product line has recently undergone some major updates with several significant technology upgrades from the older ZFS Series.

The Oracle Storage Solutions include three major product lines:  the ZS3 Storage Appliances, the Pillar Axiom SAN, and the StorageTek Tape Library solutions.  For this article, we will focus on the ZS3 solutions, as these were the focus of recent Oracle announcements over the last few months.

The ZS3 product line has been consolidated down to three products; the ZS3-2 (for small to medium requirements, scales to 1.5 PB) and ZS3-4 (for the larger enterprise requirements, with a 3.5 PB capacity) and the ZS3-BA, a preconfigured backup appliance. This makes it easier to understand the ZS3 solution, though both the ZS3-2 and ZS3-4 options are highly configurable to a customer's needs and price points. 

Oracle has done some major technical upgrades and enhancements for the ZS3, primarily around deep integration into Automation systems like OpenStack, and new features designed specifically for Oracle Database.  These enhancements can be especially valuable for many common use cases such as "ZS3 for Engineered Systems", "ZS3 for Virtualization", “ZS3 for Database Performance/Optimization”, etc. Here are some of the features that make the ZS3 stand out from the competition:

  • Oracle DB Hybrid Columnar Compression (HCC) – Aggressive in-database compression available only on Exadata and the Oracle Storage Arrays. Compression ratios exceeding 20x are not uncommon.
  • Oracle Intelligent Storage Protocol (OISP) –A Database 12c ability that enables the use of Oracle Disk manager (ODM) to significantly improve storage performance.
  • Oracle Database Snap Management Utility Integration – The perfect match for DevOps environments, allowing for thin clones of databases!
  • Oracle Database Direct NFS support – From the company that invented NFS, a better way to improve NFS database performance, and available on both database 11gR2 and 12C!
  • Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM) Integration – Enabling a single pane of glass for your Oracle footprint.
  • DTrace Analytics – Performance tuning, capacity planning, real-time diagnosis/resolution. Significant labor savings for your troubleshooting efforts.
  • Integration with OpenStack Cinder protocol, and did you know that Oracle is a leading contributor to the OpenStack codebase!
  • A new RESTful API, that allows clients to integrate the ZFS into their Infrastructure management  systems like no other Array on the market.
  • The ability to simultaneously  boot over 16,000 VMs of the smaller ZS3-2 – Enables DevOps options that no other array can provide.
  • Full support for Symmetric Multi-Processing in the OS – Allows for fewer filer systems, reducing sprawl and improving datacenter efficiency.

Lastly, the performance improvements of the ZS3 platform as both a NAS and SAN solution have been outpacing the competition, primarily through extensive DRAM caching resource expandability and upgrades to the caching algorithms themselves.  The little ZS3-2 has up to a whopping 1TB of DRAM and it’s big brother can grow to 2TB of DRAM, combined with the unique way that the ZS3 manages SSDs, it’s no wonder that the competition has been surprised by the price performance point ( Check out the SPC-2 numbers) that smashes the competing arrays into small pieces. What is even more amazing, is that the SPC-2 numbers come from the baby of the two arrays.

The ZS3 platform has demonstrated both performance and flexibility across many other use cases, such as Virtual Data Image (VDI) storage for Virtualization, Cloud storage, general File Sharing and Document/Content management applications, and many other situations that require a flexible NAS/SAN solution.

Stay tuned for our next storage focused blog regarding the ZS3 arrays and storage administration, storage analytics, and troubleshooting written by Erik Benner. 

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