NetApp EF-550 SSD (solid state drive) update

The WOU EDW (data warehouse), VDI and Moodle have all been moved from spinning drive storage to SSD storage, utilizing the NetApp EF550.  VDI is running on a RAID 0 pool, while Moodle, Oracle and Cognos are running on RAID 6. 


The server side utilizes the Cisco UCS blade platform.  The RedHat operating system runs on VMware.  The communication between server and storage is via a HA pair of Cisco Nexus 5000’s, utilizing 8Gb fiber-channel SFP’s.


Significant data throughput improvements has been noted on the following three applications:

  • Data Warehouse  (utilizes both Cognos Insight and Oracle 12c database)
    • Reports that previously took 25 – 30 seconds to complete now finish in 5 – 10 seconds
    • The user experience, including moving through menu items, creating queries and reports within Cognos, has increased significantly
  • VDI (virtual Windows 7 desktop lab environment running on VMware)
    • 200 concurrent lab VMs, all running on an NetApp EF550.  Previously these 200 VMs were spread accross two FAS-3250 heads, a FAS-2240-2 with flash pool and a FAS-2240-2
    • Windows logins that previously took 45 – 80 seconds, now take 20 – 25 seconds
  • Moodle version 2.7.1
    • The user load is currently peaking at about 186 users on the current term Moodle server.  See graph here
    • The http response time on the current term, running on EF550 SSD drives averages 25 milli-seconds, with 60 milli-second peaks.  See graph here
    • The http response time on last summer term, running on spinning drives is averages 291 milli-seconds, with 1,635 milli-second peaks.  See graph here
    • Differences in latency between spinning drives and SSD drives were significant during several load test.  See graph here  The large spike on the right side of the graph was 580 users utilizing spinning drives, while the small bump further to the right of the spike was 5,125 users utilizing SSD drives.

Redundant Data Center Overview

DeVolder Family Science Center houses a small redundant data center.  This location contains servers, storage and core network gear.

Both the main data center in ITC006 and the redundant data center in DeVolder utilize the NetApp SnapMirror technology.  With this product enabled, data that is written in one location, is then replicated at the redundant site.  Currently, only core services such as DNS, DHCP, core web server and A/D are duplicated at the redundant site.  Over time additional services will be added to the redundant site, including such applications as Moodle.

In addition, there is cheaper storage in DeVolder and Ackerman Hall that is used as secondary storage.  All primary storage is transferred to secondary disk storage, a minimum of one time per day.


Redundant power


NetApp storage and Cisco UCS blade servers


Redundant core