EMC Ditches Storage Perfomance Council

The Storage Performance Council, an industry group that is developing a benchmark for storage performance, recently lost a member. EMC Corp. (www.emc.com) walked out of the Storage Performance Council (SPC, www.storageperformance.org) citing a conflict of business interests.

Remaining SPC vendors include industry heavyweights such as IBM Corp. (www.ibm.com), Compaq Computer Corp. (www.compaq.com), and Seagate Technology (www.seagate.com).

According to Jack Stephens, principal at the consulting firm Gradient Systems Inc. (www.gradientsystems.com), EMC disagreed with the direction of SPC’s benchmark. "[EMC] wanted to include reliability in the benchmark," he says. The benchmark initially is only going to measure speed.

Gradient Systems was hired by SPC to manage the operations and administration of the benchmark.

Stephens believes that pure performance is adequate for the initial benchmark. Since there is currently no way of comparing storage performance between vendors, any benchmark will be welcome. "Just the speed of the box is something," says Eric Stouffer, chairman of SPC’s steering committee.

"We would like to develop a suite of benchmarks," Stouffer says. Stability was not ruled out of the SPCs roadmap; it was only excluded for the initial version. Stouffer says the group decided that performance was the metric that most interested users of storage devices.

"We can bring some specific value to the market with this benchmark," Stouffer says. Because users will be able to make head-to-head comparisons between individual devices, there will be increased interest in performance and competition, which helps users. In addition, users can become overwhelmed by all of the different flavors of SCSI.

EMC carries a substantial amount of weight in the storage market, but neither Stephens or Stouffer believe the companies absence will detract from SPC’s image. "I don’t think there will be a credibility problem," Stouffer says. "Agilent is a new member," he points out, emphasizing the credibility of other member companies.

The SPC modeled the organization after the Transaction Performance Council (TPC, www.tpc.org). Stouffer says the TPC provides an ideal framework for both determining what aspects to focus benchmarks on and how to coordinate the efforts and opinions of a diverse group of vendors.

The TPC manages a benchmark for determining the performance of databases. It has a history of intervendor conflicts, but its benchmarks have been adopted as industry standards.

Stouffer hopes to minimize the number of intervendor conflicts in the SPC, but remains aware that it will be an issue until a benchmark is adopted. "It’s the slight drift we need to home in on," he says.