CASE STUDY: F100 INSURANCE COMPANY

Load DynamiX Validates EMC Isilon Solutions to Meet Customer Performance Objectives

Summary

EMC data center integration partner AdvizeX wanted to prove that a proposed next generation storage solution — based on EMC Isilon NAS storage systems — would fully meet the performance requirements as specified by this leading insurance company. AdvizeX and EMC turned to Load DynamiX to help them validate the performance of the proposed solution. All three parties worked together to analyze data on the currently installed applications and create accurate workload models using Load DynamiX software to accurately represent the production workloads. Load DynamiX 10G series Ethernet appliances then generated realistic loads and worst case scenarios from these workload models.

“By using Load DynamiX, our normal testing cycle was decreased from 60 days to less than 2 weeks.”
— Paul Timmerman, VP Technology Solutions, AdvizeX

The Customer Challenge

The challenge was to provide critical insight needed to ensure the performance and cost-effectiveness of the next generation storage solution while substantially reducing the risk of deploying new technology. It was essential to convince the client that the models were truly representative of their production workloads and that the EMC Isilon clustered NAS products could handle current and future performance requirements.

A specification was provided by the end-customer that consisted of a CIFS/SMB2 command mix, a requirement for a 10-level directory structure, and a workload profile stated in terms of commands/sec (100,000), number of connections (50,000), and number of open files (500,000).  Response times would need to be analyzed across multiple variations of the load profile to understand worst case conditions. AdvizeX and EMC brought in a 25-node Isilon S200 cluster with the goal of finding the most cost-effective configuration to meet performance requirements.

The Load DynamiX Solution

To run the performance validation, Load DynamiX software and hardware were used in conjunction with professional services. A test project was created that implemented the desired workload, including the writing of 24 files of 100MB each to the cluster, which were read by 10 clients each. There were 50 files in each of the 10 sub-directories.

The Performance Validation Process

The goal of the customer’s performance validation process was to ensure response times and CPU loading would be acceptable over a typical business cycle under the worst case peak workloads.  The tested EMC Isilon nodes had a combination of HDDs and SSDs.  Nodes were added to the configuration and to the test process to see how performance varied when 25 nodes were configured. As the tests progressed and nodes were added, response times improved and were fully characterized for this application workload.  Throughout the engagement, Load DynamiX Professional Services worked closely with EMC, AdvizeX and the customer to ensure the accuracy of the results.

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Benefits to the Insurance Leader

The insurance leader wanted to realize the following benefits from validating performance before production deployment:

  • Reduced risk by proving the proposed clustered NAS solution could meet performance goals before going live.
  • Lower costs via the ability to align storage purchases to performance requirements.

Summary

The combined EMC / AdvizeX / Load DynamiX team was able to accurately model and emulate the insurance company’s application workloads and generate worst case loading that was successfully run against the proposed clustered NAS solution. As a result, the customer was given the confidence to acquire the new storage architecture to replace their legacy storage systems without fears of unexpected performance problems. The customer knows the performance limits well in advance of going live with the new solution and has planned appropriately. In addition, by varying the configurations and repeatedly running tests, the customer was able to determine the optimal mix of HDDs, SSDs and nodes to achieve performance objectives, yet not over-provision and waste their limited capital budget.

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