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Understanding your individual Application's DNA

Blog Post created by rfenton Employee on Nov 16, 2016

If you have attended a recent Nimble presentation or had a discussion with one of our technical team, you'd have probably heard us talk about Application-Centric Data Services.  This is much more than an industry buzz-word or a marketing phrase to communicate the use of Application-profiles (a concept that has been in Nimble OS since it's very first release).  Application Centric Data Services is focussed on understanding the unique requirements of each application, and ensuring that they are met or exceeded, in order to meet the demands on the business in the most efficient manner.  Some of the attributes we consider when thinking about Application Centric Data Services are:

 

  • Performance, latency characteristics, how these may change over the course of time - both in the short-term (IO/latency intensive in the day and bandwidth intensive in the evening) and long-term (seasonality of the business or growth over time).
  • Data protection and recovery objectives and the levels of granularity that data may need to be restored.
  • Security.
  • Scaling for growth (or even contraction).
  • Efficiency to optimise the delivery of the application.

 

A DNA profile describes a humans (or animals) genetic make-up; what makes them individuals with regards to hair/eye colour, temperament, height, weight etc.

Like humans, every application is different, not only in the services that it may consume, but thinking of an application's I/O pattern, it realistically describes that applciaitons DNA: it's individual genetic make-up and personality.

 

The IT industry has for a long-time made generalisations, partly because managing at the lowest common-denominator is a method of scaling, but also sometimes vendors will generalise in order to optimise their products for particular workloads or solutions.  Those who follow corporate storage blogs will know there has been long running argument of how best to understand and determine application block sizes (specifically when considering performance benchmarks for competitive purposes), a topic that was firmly but to bed by Nimble's Data Scientist, David Adamson's rather excellent blog on Application IO and our studies with Infosight on real customer data.

 

What if we could understand each applications DNA make up with regards to performance rather than generalise on gut feel or averages?  It's type of I/O, how it changes over time with regard to latency/block-size, how that potential changes during the course of a production day, week or a year of seasonality, what generically does the IO pattern look like for a set of applications or type of applications or look at detailed analysis for a specific application.  Understanding such personalities would allow you to get many insights that will assist with sizing, scaling, optimising, trouble-shooting and most importantly meeting the business demands.  Just like two siblings may share similarities in their genetic makeup, two similar SQL applications may show very different personalities when explored in greater depth.  This is possible today! Understanding, this level of detail doesn't require any software to be deployed or expensive data collection or agents, Nimble customers can understand their application's DNA simply through Infosight (Nimble's cloud-based predictive analytics platform).

 

Please allow me to introduce you to Infosight Labs!  Those that are familiar with Infosight will know that Infosight takes telemetry from our deployed storage arrays and use that telemetry to allow our customers to obtain unique insights into their applications and environments.  It is much much more than pretty graphs telling you when your capacity is full on a linear regression!  Infosight Labs is a new feature that will allow our customers to experiment and obtain unique insights and reports on many items of interest including:

 

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Volume Performance is the area I have found fascinating, especially around understanding Application DNA.  As this example will demonstrate, please note: this is production volume that I using as the example/demonstration.

Firstly I select the time range (remember this data has already been collected, it's just a new perspective so no waiting for the data to amass or build up), the array (or pool) I am interested in looking at.  Next, is the option to look at individual volume/application or generically look at a collection of volumes or applications so we can verify similarities and averages on a set of applications.

 

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and then the granularity and the metrics I am interested in looking at:

 

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Here I've selected Operation Heatmap (DNA) and to compare that with I/O Latency, the result is a overview of the applications (a specific SQL Server in this instance I/O profile over a period of time, it's unique pattern of I/O and it's relationship to latency):

 

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Hovering over the graph provides more data on the data-points:

 

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One can see that the histogram show's I/O type of the course of week (in this instance), this specific week happened to be month-end for a billing platform.

We can see the split of I/O between large sequential block and small transactional I/O.  This particular application is tending to write in small 8-16K I/O's and larger 128k-256k blocks. Hovering over the graph shows the datapoints.  From this view you can probably see why I see this as Application DNA as the sample looks very similar to the Human DNA profile picture above.

 

Here's a view of a VDI datastore, as one can see the profile is very different:

 

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and in fact if I look generically across all VDI volumes for this environment, the workload above is fairly representative of the average:

 

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Infosight Labs will roll out to our customer install base over the next coming weeks.  Please DO NOT ask Nimble Support to enable this feature!

 

Send us an email to request InfoSight Labs access

 

If you have any specific questions then please contact me or write a comment below!

 

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