Monday, February 15, 2010

Single Threaded Applications Experience Significant Performance Gains from the Atrato Solution

Recently Atrato Inc introduced their latest storage management software, called ApplicationSmart™ , a tiered management software which has introduced some innovative and unique approaches to managing the integration of SSD and spinning disk. While many vendors are now incorporating SSD into their storage portfolio few have integrated management tools that effectively mitigate the increased complexity common in today’s tiered storage implementations.

Atrato positions ApplicationSmart™ beyond traditional application-aware storage with what they call, intelligent storage management autonomics. This feature recognizes data access patterns, real time, to optimize the management of data between storage tiers. As the word autonomic infers, management tasks are done without administrator intervention and it is this hands off attribute that eliminates complexity, increases responsiveness and accuracy. Their secret sauce if you will is the stepping beyond the more traditional programmatic approaches to tier management and innovatively adapting pattern recognition technologies to data storage management. For a more detailed explination check out the following paper that appeared recently in the Intel Technology Journal. "Solid state Drive applications in storage and Embedded Systems"

The purpose of this blog however was to look a particular application problem area, namely single threaded applications and to discuss how ApplicationSmart™ can be especially effective in enhancing their performance. Single threaded applications represent legacy architecture and characteristically issue ONE I/O at a time, waiting for completion of each before launching the next I/O, and suffer from an inability to take full advantage of servers with multiple CPUs, multi-core processors or parallel processing.

While all applications gain from improvements in the I/O process, the inability to take advantage of processor configurations gains make I/O improvements much more significant to the single threaded application. The most obvious solution would be to rewrite these aging applications, however desirable that option may be, it is not practical leaving outside options as the only solution to this productivity issue. ApplicationSmart™ is such a solution that delivers performance improvement to the I/O process that can significantly enhance single threaded application performance.

ApplicationSmart™ analyses data patterns, identifies data that is likely to be used by the application in the near future and promotes this data into SSD storage along with specific data requested in an I/O operation. Using a “locality of reference” methodology ApplicationSmart makes it highly probable that the next data requested by the application will be readily available from SSD rather than disk. This process is similar to that provided by shopping Web sites, which suggest that purchasers of book ‘A’ are also likely be interested in books ‘ D’, ‘K’ and ‘R’.

Using autonomic processes to identify relevant data, ApplicationSmart’s storage management process automatically replicates most frequently used data in SSD so that it is more readily available to the application. This reduces, the I/O calls on rotational disk in favor of I/O calls on the SSD storage resource. Response time from SSD is vastly improved over that of rotational disk.

Also included in ApplicationSmart™ is an ingest I/O reforming feature that ensures standardization of I/O sizes, further improving I/O performance. Combining this with features, such as Access Profiler, SSD LUN Manager, Tiered Management Engine, Ingest Accelerator and Egress Accelerator, ApplicationSmart enables the user to maximize the use of high density rotational disk storage, optimize performance across a combined, HDD/SSD, Hybrid Virtual LUN, to improve application performance, and save power, floor space and time commitment costs.

Given the ubiquity of multiprocessors and multi-core processors in servers marketed today, one might ask whether many single threaded applications still exist. The answer is that there are more than you might think. David Bolton, a 26 year software development veteran who has written software for Price Waterhouse, British Aerospace and London Clearing House states in his blog on www.about.com last October:
“For most of us I suspect single threaded applications are the norm unless you are working on a sophisticated application. Even then at my last job, working on a Front Office Trading System, it was single threaded apart from just two threads used very intermittently for reporting error and status.”Source: http://cplus.about.com/b/2009/10/20/beware-of-the-single-threaded-application.htm

The Atrato solution integrates a 3U sealed 'disk" enclosure delivering 16,000 IOP's, a 1U SSD enclosure that delivers 80,000 IOP's both tightly integrated and managed by ApplicationSmart™. By economically delivering high IOP performance atrato is targeting their solution to address I/O bottlenecks and may be the best performance enhancement for more applications than first realize.

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