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  • 20 May 2014 15:20

Flash results as Blackpepper spices up MySQL query speeds with PernixData’s FVP™ storage acceleration solution

Peak database latencies shrink from 300 milliseconds (ms) to 30 ms - a 10x improvement.

Since seconds count in grabbing a customer’s attention, e-commerce agency Blackpepper depends on fast and reliable web and database performance. When results were unsatisfactory, the agency implemented PernixData’s FVP™ storage acceleration solution, which has transformed the situation.

Peak database latencies shrank from 300 milliseconds (ms) to 30 ms, a 10x improvement. Average latency is under 1 ms, with more than 95 per cent of reads and writes being served from local flash. Blackpepper is also achieving 280 Mbps of throughput during routine database synchs, reducing the average SQL job from 30 minutes to 10 minutes.

“We never came close to getting this level of performance from our SAN alone,” said Alain Russell, CEO and Co-Founder of Blackpepper. “Today, we see up to 6,000 IOPS for a single workload. Prior to FVP, we were lucky to get about 900.”

Blackpepper is a privately owned digital agency based in New Zealand, providing online hosted e-commerce solutions for a wide range of clients.

“In our line of work, you have 1 to 2 seconds to get someone’s attention,” said Russell. “The slightest slowdown in web or database performance can have a big impact on our customers’ businesses.” But the company had begun to see that routine data importing and synching functions were causing heavy spikes in latency – up to 300 ms in some instances. Although infrequent, the spikes were severe enough to be noticed by some customers, and for vCenter to log them.

“We needed a solution that would not only improve our web and database performance, but do so consistently – even during peak workloads,” said Russell.

Spicing up Storage

The company first looked at upgrading their Dell EqualLogic arrays as a solution to application performance issues. But since their existing storage devices were only at 40 per cent utilisation, storage capacity was not an issue. It would have cost Blackpepper $50,000 or more, to upgrade to larger EqualLogic arrays.

Russell said: “We needed the benefits of flash, but didn’t want to spend a fortune getting there, especially if it meant buying SAN hardware we didn’t need.”

So the company sought server side flash with storage acceleration software as a solution, first evaluating Dell FluidCache, then quickly ruling it out as it was not compatible with their EqualLogic and VMware environments. They assessed VMware VFRC but felt it was too difficult to configure, and as a read-only solution it could not accelerate their MySQL database traffic, which is 90 per cent write intensive.

Eventually Blackpepper turned to PernixData FVP storage acceleration solution. FVP virtualises high speed server resources like flash and RAM into a clustered acceleration tier that enables IT administrators to quickly, easily and cost-effectively scale-out storage performance completely independently of storage capacity. The result is unprecedented read and write performance for all virtual machines (VMs), without the need to change existing server and storage infrastructure. FVP was deployed on several Dell servers running Intel S3700 SSDs.

“The whole FVP deployment process took less than 20 minutes,” said Russell. “The longest part was putting the VMs in maintenance mode.”

Once in place, Blackpepper saw spectacular results. In the first six weeks, more than 1 billion writes were accelerated with FVP, ensuring ensured consistent and reliable performance while lowering utilisation on the Equallogic array, and extending the life of those devices.

“PernixData FVP is a perfect solution for delivering consistent and reliable database and web server performance. It delivers all the low latency benefits of server side flash without requiring us to spend a fortune on unnecessary hardware,” said Russell.

Building a business case

He added: “The investment in PernixData FVP and server flash is less than 7 per cent of our total storage investment. That alone makes the solution a no brainer from a cost standpoint. He said FVP also helped Blackpepper to improve its service offering.

“With PernixData FVP, we deliver the highest level of database and web performance to our customers. This translates to faster queries, more transactions, and better search rankings. In the world of ecommerce, this is the difference between success and failure.” About PernixData™

PernixData is fundamentally changing how storage is designed and operated in virtual data centers. The company’s flagship product, PernixData FVP™, virtualizes server flash and RAM to enable scale-out storage performance that is independent of capacity. No changes are required to VMs, servers or primary storage, ensuring maximum performance of all virtualized applications in a seamless, scalable and cost- effective manner. Based in San Jose, California, PernixData was founded by virtualisation experts and backed by industry luminaries in the software space. For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter @PernixData. For media queries

David Frost, PR Deadlines, for PernixData. +61.2.4341 5021

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