From: John Moran JL/OD (
Date: Mon Nov 22 1993 - 05:37:21 CST

I would first like to apologize to the net for taking such a long time
in answering this post but as I have previously explained we have been
in the process of evaluating servers and negotiating with both Sun and
Auspex and we could not take the chance of having any adverse affects
on our negotiations.

The original post:

> Hi,
> we have a fairly large site and are going to replace many of our old
> boot servers, mostle 4/490's, with newer more modern servers. We want
> to be able to decrease the number of servers at the same time and
> have looked at both Auspex and SS1000 as possibilities. I need a
> reference from somebody running SS1000 servers with many subnets(4+)
> and with many clients(150+). If there is anybody with such a
> configuration I would be interested in hearing from them. Of course I
> will summerize to the net.

The reason that the Sun model happened to be a SS1000 was that I had
requested tenders from both Sun and Auspex and Sun's suggestion was
a solution built around this model. Each company was told that we
wanted to replace four boot/file servers which serve roughly 275
clients today. The clients all have local swap and tmpfs and nothing
else. The total number of new servers should not exceed two and they
must be able to serve at least 500 clients total. We are looking for
a good NFS server that has the resources to handle a large number of
clients, that would give us better response time and decrease system
administration. We do not want "the sea of 10's".

I received 23 replies to my post but unfortunately only three were from
sites with the configuration that I sought, two were from Sun themselves
and one was from a University campus. I was looking more for references
from production sites and preferrable non-biased ones. I did receive a
few more Auspex references but those I had enough already. Through the
Auspex agent in Sweden I was able to get two site references from
production sites each with two Auspex servers. I was unable to get a
reference from Sun in Sweden with the configuration that I sought.

I spent a lot of time plowing through all the LADDIS or SPECnfs results
for the SS1000, SS2000 and SPARCcluster from Sun and the NS 6000 from
Auspex. I looked at results for these models in all imaginable
configurations and with all possible alpha, beta, and FCS versions of
the operating system. Sometimes there were unexplainable tuning
parameters set in the kernel with no comment from the vendor. Sun had
increased their results drastically with the advent of Solaris2.3
Pre-FCS and were now in the same "ballpark" as Auspex's NS 6000.
Previously had Auspex far superior figures. I came to the conclusion
that each vendor could, more or less, tune this complex benchmark to
such a degree that the results could only be used to see if we were in
the same ballpark.

Of the Sun models the SPARCcluster was not considered although it was
tested because of the fact that it not a "mature" product and could not
be trusted in a production environment. Also the administration tools
are not fully developed yet and it is hard too conceive that we would
win anything in administration with this system. Sun never tried to
offer the SS2000.

The SS1000 server has been touted as "the best departmental application
server" from Sun and the SPECnfs results say that it is a good NFS
server but I still have my doubts whether this server model can serve
the large number of clients that we want it to. Sun was never able to
prove the contrary by giving me a Swedish reference. This model will only
run on Solaris2.x which is a great disadvantage for us. We, the system
administrators, are prepared for this version of UNIX but our user
applications are not. We would have to run heterogeneous like in the
old Sun3 days which is possible and not too complex. The biggest
point is that the present version (Solaris2.2) needs a large patch
base in order to run stable as it is still a rather young version of
Sun's SVR4 implementation. We do not need Solaris2.x on the server as
yet and we would prefer not to risk our production environment
unnecessarily. Solaris2.3 should be released any day now but
how many patches it will need is still unknown. The price tag on this
server is very attractive.

The Auspex NS 6000 server is a NFS server with an architecture that has
been designed for optimal NFS prestanda. The server sports hot pluggable
discs which allow maintaining all aspects of the disc subsytem on-line.
The operating system is SunOS4.1.3 and incorporates some fault tolerant
features. The system administration tools are mature and because Auspex
is so conservative in releasing new versions of the operating system
it is more reliable with a much lower bug level. Should we need
Solaris2.x it is possible on the client. Auspex has provided us with a
written commitment to Solaris2.x which we required of course. In
in Sweden we have been provided with references that prove that it can
swallow over 200 clients and still give good response time. I am quite
confident that there is room in this model for further NFS prestanda
improvements and further fault tolerant features. The references
that I have spoken to have all praised the exceptional service from
Auspex. The disadvantages are the price tag for the machine and
more so the fact that it has a proprietary disc subsystem which makes
buying more disk a great cost.

All in all the most important aspect in a server that serves so many
besides prestanda is availability and reliability. Due to this I have
recommended that we purchase two Auspex NS 6000 servers for our needs.

I would like to add and clarify that I have nothing against Solaris2.x,
I for one appreciate the consolidation of UNIX around SVR4, but we will
migrate to it on the server when it is more stable and more to the
point - when we need to.

Many thanks to all who answered my post.
You all know who you are - need I say more.


John Moran JL/OD UNIX Systems Manager
Ericsson Radio Systems AB
PO Box 1248 Tel: +46 13 28 48 18
581 12 Linkoping Fax: +46 13 28 73 70

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