You win some, and you lose some

Just found out the day job lost a major storage upgrade to a competitor. Read over the evaluations, and we had some questions, sent them off to the purchasing folks.
Its always annoying to lose. But from losing you can gain knowledge of why you lost and hone your offerings or your bidding … well … most of the time you can.
Sometimes, the process is engineered for a particular outcome, due to an effective manipulation of rankings. We’ve dealt with these before and its rare that you should ever expect to win such things, unless you are the favorite. These are generally a waste of time to bid on, and it would be great if there was a way to detect these beforehand.
I don’t have a good answer as to why we lost, I do have some guesses based on the evaluation returns. One of the evals was simply … well … shocking. Extremely negative, with no information available to us as to why it was so negative. Quite a number missed transcribing some of our results/numbers.
We and the other small business fared not as well as the big vendors. When you see this, you usually suspect its being arranged for a certain set of outcomes. I am not convinced of this though, but it could have been.
As I said, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. Getting good closure on the latter, understanding the issues around the loss is how you can learn, grow, and hopefully not lose/fail in the same way again. Such closure is very hard to come by. People are more concerned about lawsuits than they are willing to divulge useful information. Sad for us, as we want the useful information. And we probably won’t get it. But we did ask, and thats about all we can do.
[update] Ruminating on this some more, probably a waste of time on my part, but I don’t like to lose, and I really don’t like not understanding why.
We get a great deal of return business. Many of our customers buy 2nds, 3rds, etc. from us. Many of our customers started with one unit or a small unit and moved on to larger ones. In something like 85% of our cases, our customers do not remain one-offs. They usually come back and double, triple, quadruple down on their initial investment. On time scales from 3 months to a few years.

Read moreYou win some, and you lose some

Updated DeltaV benchmarks, and a limited time discount offer

Somewhat better tuning on this unit now. This is getting … interesting. Very interesting.
As a reminder, the day job’s lower cost storage target, the DeltaV is designed specifically to be a lower end machine. It is fast, and as we saw on the last set of numbers, it is actually faster than competitors hardware RAID. DeltaV does the RAID bits in software.
So this is another (identical) unit to the one we tested before. Later stage of tuning and testing.
Streaming write then read, 128GB. Unit has 16GB ram total, no flash/SSD cache. This is streaming writes to disk, and reads from disk. Unit is set up for GlusterFS, but we are testing the native underlying file system (Gluster needs a fast system to perform well).

Read moreUpdated DeltaV benchmarks, and a limited time discount offer

There is a clear and present need for meaningful metrics for HPC and storage

As the discussion of the amazing performance of the K machine continues, one needs to ask how well correlated the numbers are against end user realizable and likely performance. That is, how useful is top500 as an actual predictor of system performance for a particular task? Same question of Graph500, SPEC*, etc. ? How useful … Read moreThere is a clear and present need for meaningful metrics for HPC and storage

OT: Fun week ahead

This is a personal bit. I am going up for belt promotion in Karate this Thursday. Huge risk saying something in advance in case I don’t make it. I am not worried about most of it. The fighting portion, yeah, a bit. I’m fine in sparring bouts, but this promises to be at least 7 … Read moreOT: Fun week ahead

"K" is atop the top500. What does this mean to us?

Not much.
No, I am not trying to be a downer. The relation of the top500 top-o-the-heap to mere mortals with hard problems to solve isn’t very strong. Actually its quite weak.
There is only one K machine. Its at RIKEN in Japan. There’s only one Jaguar, and only one Tihane machine. All are, to some degree or the other, unique in some aspects.
What matters to most people is “what can it do for me”?
Directly, not so much.
Indirectly … quite a bit.
These machines, ignoring the marketing hype of how they will cure the common cold (hint: they won’t, but it makes politicians happy to hear this, as something they can point to during re-election time), they do point the way to designs that we will need to be using in the future to achieve good performance on some subset of problems.
Not IO bound problems, mind you, but a small subset of problems well tackled by such architectures. This is fundamentally one of the problems in using the top500 ranking as “worlds fastest” indicator. Its worlds fastest … at running that code.

Read more"K" is atop the top500. What does this mean to us?

Updated DeltaV in the lab

Should be a pretty good performance bump for the unit. Processor and memory bump. Newer backplane. Some other bits. Will update soon. Really looking forward to the benchies 🙂 [Update 1] Very encouraging sign: RAID build is occurring at about 2x the rate of the previous generation. Should be done with 48TB RAID build in … Read moreUpdated DeltaV in the lab

Shakes head …

Them: Here is our parts list. We found it by going to these web sites (see long list) finding the lowest cost among them, and then adding it in to the spec. Me: Uh huh (noting the several conflicting and wrong elements). So what is it you are trying to do … Them: Never mind … Read moreShakes head …

Fusion IO IPO tomorrow … is the market for PCIe Flash strong enough to support 1 or more companies?

FusionIO goes public tomorrow. If you are an early employee, chances are, you are going to be a millionaire by the end of the day, at least on paper. The author of the great “fio” tool works there, and I hope this does work out for him and the rest of them well.
But … my question is a longer term one. Does the market … or will the market … support a higher cost PCIe channel flash as opposed to lower cost SSD based units? I’ve never satisfactorily answered this for myself. I can see a few divergent scenarios and markets where the PCIe flash are very important (and we work in these markets, and have a stake in them, so I want to see them succeed). But in the large scale general case … should we expect Flash in the PCIe channel or SSD in the disk channel to dominate local storage over time?
Ok, I am not saying spinning rust is going away. There are a few pundits whom are predicting this. The costs argue, strongly, against this. Storage density and capacity are going to be won by spinning rust for the near term future (2-4 years anyway). SSD 960GB units are available, and are about 50x the cost of the 1TB drives they would replace. So I don’t expect that to be occurring (the replacement) any time soon.

Read moreFusion IO IPO tomorrow … is the market for PCIe Flash strong enough to support 1 or more companies?