Database RAID yields better data transfer

Organizations need hardware that can handle the kind of data database applications spit out, according to Cutting Edge Bridgette Inc., which is why they say they’ve designed the ultimate database server.

The RAIDiance Exchange Server bundles Cutting Edge’s Database RAID storage solution with Compaq Computer Corp. 5500 or 6400 servers, Microsoft Exchange Server and Windows NT server. The technology is also designed to help Microsoft’s SQL Sever, as well as databases from Oracle Corp. and Informix Corp., perform better.

Andy Newbom, director of major accounts with the La Mesa, Calif.-based Cutting Edge, said the increasingly mission-critical nature of databases, combined with the consistent up-time required in a world driven by e-commerce, means users need all the performance improvements they can get.

Using Cutting Edge’s Database RAID, Newbom said users can double their transactions per second versus traditional database server and RAID unit configurations, typically RAID 0+1. “And it’s not just that it’s faster…they can also reduce the cost, while increasing the up-time and making [databases] more fault tolerant.”

The problem, according to Newbom, is that server vendors are focused on facilitating huge transfer rates, outfitting their boxes with Fibre Channel arrays and multiple SCSI buses. To that end, they’ve achieved transfer rates in the hundreds of megabytes per second. But database on-line transaction processing (OLTP) and Exchange-type applications feed RAID servers small block and file sizes — in random access patterns — typically in the 2KB to 16KB range.

So Cutting Edge built Database RAID from the ground up to facilitate these small database data transfers, and as a result, the company is boasting that Database RAID and RAIDiance Exchange Server provides an OLTP performance range of 3,600 transactions per second, versus less than 1,500 on most other RAID controllers.

Besides performance improvements, Database RAID also adheres to tuning rules for database performance as outlined by major database vendors, and provides global hot spares, parity only striping for data integrity and catastrophic drive failure that allows for three of eight drives to go down while still allowing the application to function.

Two industry observers said there could very well be database performance issues surrounding traditional RAID configurations, but added that the issue has not been widely discussed.

“It is true that some sorts of hardware are better suited, but that is one (problem) that I have not particularly heard,” said David Ferris, president of Ferris Research, a messaging consultancy based in San Francisco.

And it takes more than facilitating the transfer of small file block or packet sizes to make a server database-ready, Ferris added. Whether or not the platform offers speedy tape backup or failover are also crucial issues to consider when shopping for a database platform.

John Sawler, solutions marketing manager with Oracle Corporation Canada Inc. in Mississauga, Ont., said the problem as outlined by Cutting Edge is something that he has yet to encounter. But based on the company’s product information, he said Database RAID may offer some level of improvements for certain Oracle customers.

In particular, he said the technology may help customers that depend heavily on OLTP applications, where large numbers of small records are called-up and adjusted in real time, get the job done faster.

“This is an incremental improvement, and it’s something that I think some companies would find very beneficial in some circumstances, depending on their architecture,” Sawler said. But he added that Oracle partners with other storage vendors, including Cutting Edge competitors, and while he calls the Database RAID technology innovative, “they’re certainly what I wouldn’t call market leaders, from a percentage perspective.”

RAIDiance Exchange Server and Database RAID ( are currently available, and pricing varies according to user needs. Cutting Edge Network Storage Solutions is at (619) 667-7888.