NetApp offers technology that lets you store more data in less space. Storage efficiency is nothing new to us, after all. did you know that NetApp invented snapshots over 20 years ago? Since then, NetApp has built a large portfolio of efficiencies and a loyal following by offering more storage for the money. One of my jobs at NetApp is to encourage people to adopt more of our efficiency technologies, but old habits are hard to break. So, when I speak to customers and prospects, I explain that tens of thousands of NetApp systems are running at 100% efficiency, or higher. What I mean by that is the the amount of data stored is equal to or greater than the total raw storage capacity of the system. Using conventional logic, this seems impossible. System overhead, RAID parity, hot spares and the like take away capacity from storage systems, preventing you from getting anywhere near 100% usage, right?
Well actually, no, that’s not right - if you are using our efficiencies. When we discuss and evaluate storage efficiency with our customers, we specifically look for 10 technologies in use, technologies that allow these customers to get the most from their storage by saving space and saving money. To illustrate this, I often point customers to their own system data, as provided by AutoSupport. NetApp systems are anything but conventional. Looking at the chart below, taken from the AutoSupport logs of roughly five thousand systems with efficiencies between 95% and 105%, you can see an interesting trend.
What we see from these high-efficiency systems is a higher-than-normal adoption of the 10 technologies. Below is a list of the technologies, how they bring efficiency, and the percentage of adoption in the systems we examined with measured efficiency between 95%-105%:
1, Snapshots (99%) - space efficient redirect-on-write volume copies (reduces space)
2. RAID-DP (94%) - mirroring-level data protection without doubling the number of HDDs (saves money)
3. Deduplication (66%) - removes unnecessary, redundant data from any NetApp storage system (reduces space)
4. SnapMirror (59%) - replicates small 4k data blocks as they change, without replicating duplicates (reduces space)
5. Thin Provisioning (51%) - consumes storage only when its needed, from a "free" pool that all can use (reduces space)
6. SATA HDDs (44%) - why use expensive SAS and SSD drives when you don't need to? (saves money)
7. FlashCache (17%) - automatic caching of hot data allows SATA drives to be used in high performance apps (saves money)
8. SnapVault (15%) - change-based bock level backup from one NetApp system to another. (reduces space)
9. FlexClone (11%) - cloned copies of you data stored using only unique data (reduces space)
10. Compression (3%) - inline or post-process using standard L-Z compression (reduces space)
Customers can choose to enable, or not enable, any of these features. None of them are required in order to store data, but all of them are necessary in order to achieve maximum efficiency. Further analysis of our AutoSupport data reveals that the majority of our customers are configuring their stoage systems for less than 100% efficiency. I am not sure why more of our customers don't use more of our efficiency features, but I suspect it has to do with old habits and conventional wisdom from conventional storage vendors. In the screenshot above, you might have noticed a couple of additional links, one that says "Show Details" and another that says "About the Efficient IT Dashboard." We designed this dashboard to educate our customers by showing them their own data, in great detail. If you are a NetApp customer but haven't seen the efficiency data for your systems, you should be on the phone to your SE, asking to see it.
In closing, I have but one comment. Don’t let conventional vendors with conventional logic fool you into believing that you need to use conventional configurations– raise the bar and demand more efficiency!
Data Storage Matters,