SPC Launches Storage Benchmark

While IT managers recognize transaction benchmarks likeTPC-C and application benchmarks like the one for SAP, one of the hottest areasin IT has lacked a comprehensive benchmark. On Monday, the Storage Performance Councilannounced it introduced a new benchmark for comparing the performance ofstorage systems.

The SPC-1 is intended to give users an understanding ofthe relative performance and price/performance of storage systems. It measuresthe I/O throughput of storage systems to see how much data a system can writeor read in a given amount of time. The benchmark is modeled after therequirements of Web servers, database servers, and email servers.

The Storage Performance Council (SPC) is a consortiumof leading storage vendors. Its ranks include leading lights such as Adaptec,Compaq, Dell, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, LSI Logic, NEC, Sun Microsystems,Unisys, and Veritas. The vendors ratified the SPC’s first benchmark in Octoberand officially launched the benchmark Monday at the Computer MeasurementGroup’s 2001 conference in Anaheim, Calif.

Steve Duplessie, senior analyst and founder of the Enterprise Storage Group,says the market has needed an apples-to-apples storage benchmark for some time.Although spec.org has offered benchmarks for storage topics like NFSperformance, until now there has been no benchmark applicable to all systems.“There needed to be a new consortium to do storage things,” he says, “I wish itwould have happened sooner, but I applaud them for doing it now.”

With the benchmark, customers can see how particularstorage systems compare against one another, regardless of the platform. Ithelps them make informed decisions about how well a storage system will meettheir needs, both in terms of raw performance and price/performance.

Duplessie believes this is a positive development forthe storage space. “Anything that allows you to do baseline comparisons betweenvendors and products is good,” he says.

While high-end storage will be the initial focus of thebenchmarks, even enterprises who don’t need the best performing storage willbenefit from the benchmark, according to Duplessie. Companies who choose to usemore economical storage systems will be able to know exactly what they’repaying for. “People have the right to know how it stacks up,” he says.

The SPC-1 benchmark measures server-based storage inboth direct-attached and SAN configurations. Other areas it hopes to addresswith future benchmarks include backup-and-recovery and video-on-demand.

The SPC said it has already established a working groupto develop a second benchmark to gauge the performance of NAS devices. BecauseNAS devices work with file-level, rather than block-level data it is difficultto make an apples-to-apples comparison between the performance of NAS andserver-centric storage systems.

Duplessie believes because most of the major storagevendors have signed on to the SPC-1 benchmark there will be consistentreporting of benchmark results. In addition, there will be industry andcustomer pressure to reveal the performance of storage systems. “You’ll havejustify why you’re not [reporting], which means everybody will,” he says. – Chris McConnell