The good and bad of storage benchmarking


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SPC-1 and SPC-2 benchmarks are often quoted in press releases, but what good are they in real life?

In my post last week, I talked about new record-breaking SPC-1 performance benchmark results for TMS's new RamSan-630. Judging by the email response, that lead many of you to wonder exactly what the Storage Performance Council is and what makes those results any more interesting than other third-party storage benchmarks.

In a field as complex as enterprise storage, building testing mechanisms that accurately reflect real life and provide any real value to end-users is fantastically difficult. With such an incredibly wide range of enterprise storage workloads and products, it's impossible to build a benchmark that has any hope of resembling all of them.

That said, the testing mechanisms used by the SPC are among the best -- not only due to the thoroughness of the tests themselves, but because the documentation and auditing required to submit a public result is quite elaborate. In fact, the documentation is often more interesting to a prospective storage buyer than the performance results themselves.

Who is the SPC?

The Storage Performance Council is made up of a wide cross-section of storage vendors, academics, and industry analysts. The SPC's goal is to serve as a catalyst for performance improvement in storage subsystems by fostering a free and open exchange of ideas and information while ensuring fair and rigorous competition between storage vendors. It has managed to attract a wide range of vendors, including NetApp, HP, Dell, Hitachi, Fujitsu, and IBM.

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