Condusiv releases first fragmentation prevention solution for SANs

Condusiv’s Diskeeper 15 Server is the first fragmentation protection for SAN storage connected to physical servers. It prevents fragmentation in real time at the logical disk layer, increasing IO density so more data can be processed.

Brian Morin Condusiv 300

Brian Morin, Condusiv’s SVP, Global Marketing

Most SAN vendors think that SAN fragmentation isn’t an issue. Burbank CA-based Condusiv Technologies thinks that’s simply ignoring a problem, which conveniently also requires a customer to purchase more storage. Accordingly, the new version of their server fragmentation product has the first fragmentation protection for SAN storage connected to physical servers.

Condusiv is a 33 year old company – the twelfth oldest software company in the world – but until 2012 it was known as Diskeeper. The company has a long history of fragmentation protection products, with over 45 million licenses sold, but in the SAN space, that legacy closes as many doors as it opens.

“People that have used Diskeeper in the past used it mainly for laptops or desktops,” said Brian Morin, Condusiv’s SVP, Global Marketing. “On servers it had limited use for local and direct attached servers, but we have now expanded it to SAN storage.”

Morin acknowledged that there is a real marketing challenge bringing Diskeeper to SANs.

“It’s really an education challenge,” Morin said. “As soon as we mention fragmentation or Diskeeper, customers tend to think of an old bottom-up technology, an issue at the Windows File system. It’s a 10 minute conversation to get them to understand it’s a top down approach about IO reduction. The problem is that once they hear fragmentation and Diskeeper they may yawn and tune out.”

Morin said that SAN vendors – and many users – believe that RAID controllers fight file defragmentation by managing data at the physical disk layer. RAID controllers do not, however, prevent fragmentation at the logical software layer that Windows sees, with the result that SAN storage performance degrades over time.

“The logical disk layer becomes fragmented whatever a SAN does at the physical disk layer,” Morin said. “A fragmented logical disk requires more IOPS than necessary to process any given file of workload. If it sees, say 20 separate pieces at the logical disk layer, it will issue an input- output operation for every piece of the file. That’s a LOT of unnecessary IOPs.” They estimate that the overall loss in SAN performance due to SAN fragmentation is around 25 per cent.

Condusiv’s new release, Diskeeper 15 Server, prevents fragmentation in real time at the logical disk layer, which increases IO density so more data can be processed in the same amount of time. Its IntelliWrite 2.0 feature prevents files from being fractured and broken apart into pieces before being written to disk or SSD non-sequentially, so fragmentation is eliminated before it becomes an issue.

OpenBench Labs testing found data throughput their server went from 75.1 MB/s to 100.0 MB/s – a 25 per cent increase. One customer, I.B.I.S. Inc., running an ERP with SQL backend, saw their IO per GB drop from 82,000 to 29,000.”

“We can walk in and deliver 25 per cent performance that is lost to fragmentation for a mere 400 dollars per server,” Morin said.

Even through virtualization now takes the place of three quarters of physical servers, Condusiv thinks there is still a large market for this. That still leaves almost 5 million x86 servers in production, 73 per cent of which they say are attached to a SAN.

“Some people ask, ‘why innovate for a diminishing physical server market, but there are still a lot of physical servers, and more importantly, the most mission critical workloads are the ones that are NOT virtualized,” Morin said. “Many of them need this product.”

Morin indicated that the heavier the workload, the more value Diskeeper 15 offers.

“Small light workloads won’t need us, but on heavy workloads we deliver significant performance increases,” he said.

Given these advantages, one might think the SAN vendors would welcome something that would make their product more efficient, but Morin said that’s not the case.

“They don’t like us because if they use us, their customers buy less storage, and it would also complicate their sale because it’s a server-side thing” he said. “We also run into this issue with the channel as well. Resellers who like to throw hardware at a problem don’t care for us either. Those with more of a solutions approach, however, try this approach to avoid or defer a customer’s big capex hit. This also lets them position themselves as someone who is solving their customer’s problems, not just selling them more gear.”

“Giving performance with no additional hardware doesn’t go too well with the vendors, but we do actually complement them,” said Gary Quan, Condusiv’s Senior Vice President of Technology Strategy. “We provide performance on the server side to complement what they do on the storage side, so there are more sequential IO rather than random.”

In addition to the new SAN applicability, Diskeeper 15 Server, has some other significant enhancements. Its InvisiTasking 2.0 intelligent resource monitoring technology has been enhanced to allow Diskeeper “background” operations to run with near-zero resource impact on current activities. Its Instant Defrag 2.0 has also been enhanced to monitor volumes to resolve critically fragmented files in real-time that are known to cause performance problems, making it SAN-friendly.