SUMMARY: sun t3 storage vs emc symmetrix storage

From: Ed Crotty (
Date: Thu Nov 02 2000 - 14:44:31 CST


Lots of comments (big surprise ;)

I'm going to summarize a few of the early comments by saying this :

People like their EMC boxes
People like their T3 boxes

One of the main reasons that seems to resonate for EMC is the tools and

One of the main reasons that seems to resonate for T3 is the speed...

One of the downsides of EMC seems to be performance...

One of the downsides of T3 seems to be upgrading & flexibility..

Of course, this is what I took away from all of the emails.. I included
full comments so everyone can make their own judgements.

My only comment is that I think a combination of Veritas tools
(foundation suite + db edition) is = emc tools (roughly?)...

Now, choose for yourself... Comments from people below.
Thanks to everyone that has replied so far...

I'll welcome more comments... I just won't continue summarizing because
I think there will be a continious gray line of fact and opinion (but im
interested in hearing both so keep sending em!)

Thanks to :

Sam Chang
Brian Kerr
Derrick Daugherty
Kevin Butterbaugh
Nelson Caparrosso
Steve Hastings
Luc Michaud


We have over 100's of EMC symetrix here. The performance is not much different with other vendors (afterall, disk is disk, nothing fancy about it ) Few tools from EMC: EMC powerpath -- let you have redundancy connectivity to the symetrix SRDF -- symetrix realtime mirror time finder -- snapshot celerra -- NFS server for both UNIX and NT platform


We are using a two t3 arrays with an ultra 80 quad proc with 4gigs memory. I can't say enough good things about the t3, from configuration to speed. We are using it for oracle with raw filesystems. Much improvement over another configuration we have with an e4500 w/ 8 processors and an a3500. I don't know much about EMC, but I can tell you I like the t3 :)


Heh, I'd love to see your summary since most all of it will be opinion and conjecture right now. I don't even know if you can get a Symm to do raid5 but I'd love to see the benchmarks. The thing is, the T3's really can't scale until this time next year. I came up to the same problem about three or four months ago and if you need HA multi-terabyte storage now, EMC's pretty much your only choice. If you want SAN attached storage now, again, EMC or Clariion. I can't wait until I can just plop down another T3 on the fabric but I can't do that for another year. The firmware revisions etc are a nightmare right now on the T3's but things are getting more stable. It may be worht looking into the 'original' T3 which is made from StorageTek, which I believe is supported on the fabric. I should say, you can put a T3 on fabric but it's not documented, supported, or recommended. My complaints with EMC are the salesdroids, the archaic technology, and clunky-ness. Normally on a raid array you masq many disks into one larger volume, EMC recommends slicing your 50g disk up into 8gig chunks and then creating volumes with something like volume manager. Problem is if you're fibre attached it's 128 luns max, and scsi is you run out of space on a controller really quick. I _do_ sleep better at night knowing it's on the Symm and not on sun storage, I get calls from them so they can come in and replace a drive, it's pretty rock solid. I'm not happy that you have fiber going intot he box, but then it's converted into scsi to go to the disks. T3's I believe are fiber to the disk, which is nice because that means redudant paths to the disk... but they just can't do what I need right now :\

EMC's pricetag is also waaaaaayyy overpriced, but some of the tools make it decent. powerpath (like vxdmp), time finder (snapshots of the sectors to raw disk), dbtuner (lets you see what db queries are eating up what resources) etc... it also takes some of the fun out of admin work, but enhances your laziness ;)

imho, in 1.5 yrs I'd go with a T3, but for now EMC is my only choice, HP took forever and couldn't scale as large....


We do not have any Sun T3's, but we do have 2 EMC Symmetrix's (an older 3330 and a newer 3830; I'll restrict my comments on EMC to the 3830 since it's more relevant).

Basically, EMC is the Rolls Royce of storage. They're very expensive, they're extremely reliable, they're *not* the fastest thing out there.

When I get a page at 10 PM from the operations staff saying that the 3830 phoned home to EMC headquarters and an engineer is on his way out to hot swap a disk and we never knew we even had a problem, I love EMC.

However, we pay thru the nose for that reliability. Also, I've been very disappointed in them from a performance perspective. They're great as long as you don't flood the cache. However, most people do flood the cache in real world usage. Couple that with the fact that EMC likes to split up large (ex: 36 GB) disks into 4 or more smaller logical disks, and disk contention can become a MAJOR problem. Flood the cache in an EMC box and then read from multiple logical disks that are actually on the same physical, and watch the box crawl. We copy 80+ GB of data from our 3830 with 4 GB of cache to Sun storage arrays twice a day; our performance issues have primarily been with the EMC.

Having said that, I'm not a big fan of network attached storage, either; therefore I'm not in any rush to run out and buy a T3. If you're wanting reliability and performance, I'd go with multiple mid-range Sun storage arrays and use mirroring to eliminate any single points of failure.

Keep in mind the old saying concerning storage: "fast, cheap, safe; pick any two." If you want fast and cheap, use RAID 0. However, there's no data protection. If you want safe and cheap, use RAID 5. However, there's a performance penalty in heavy writes. If you want fast and safe, use RAID 0+1.

Hope this helps...


EMC is pricey much like a BMW - excellent performance, reliablity, features... SUN T3 is fairly priced much like a Honda - does its job fairly well.

If storage consolidation, multi-connectivity, SAN is in your plans then HDS 9900 is lighyears away!


Real life with the sym, I would ask the question who will manage the thing, the smaller your staff, the more I would look at the t3. The sym works great, it's just one more thing to learn though. As a Unix admin, there was a curve to the vocab, and processes, But performance is excellent, expansion is simple, but inital investment is very expensive. I think the servicing from the Vendors is out of the same mold. Both do full time monitoring, and have drive available before you know theres a problem.

Best of luck.

If you already have many terabytes of data, the sym makes sense, if you are growing your data at a rapid rate the sym makes sense, if expansion is a longer term think, I buy the t3, I tend to like modular, when its time to troubleshoot, divide and conquer is great. Also wheres your data center, this boxes could only be located on our 1st floor, very heavy.


got 2 T3 in prod, and 26 more on the way

overall I've been very impressed with the product. We'd considered EMC but it was impossible to justify the price difference.

T3 drawers with HW RAID are much much cheaper than simple IBM SSA JBODs DMP works great with T3 partner groups T3 HW failures are all covered in a very rugged manner within partner groups The HW disk cache in each T3 raid controller gets flushed to disk in the event of a power failure, as there is a small ups in each of the 2 power supplies of every T3 drawer HW RAID writes attains sustained rates that are very close to read.

All the goodies from the "SAN in a BIG BOX" such as hardware snapshots and other things are NOT available in T3-style systems. This is good, as this shields you away from a lot of possible problems due to bugs in a VERY COMPLEX "disk firmware".

The network's the computer, well it's also more and more the storage, and features such as snapshots are done on the host-level with packages such as Veritas. LAN-free and host-free backups are becoming more and more possible. I'd strongly recommend going with a Veritas-on-SAN approach, as there is a requirement for the backup system to be able to decipher things such as "disk groups", "volumes", "filesystems", and the like.

Right now, it'd also be much preferable to stick with a single host platform within a SAN, as there still are quite a few incompatibilities in FCAL implementations from one vendor to the other.

--- original question

does anyone have any real life experience with either the t3 or the symmetrix storage boxes?

i wanted to get some opinions on things like performance, snapshot capabilities etc....

i know the t3 is great at pumping out speed with raid5 .. i was curious as to how real it is in a reallife situation.. and how an emc box compares...

any thoughts on either / both would be greatly appriciated!



S U BEFORE POSTING please READ the FAQ located at N . and the list POLICY statement located at M A To submit questions/summaries to this list send your email message to: N A To unsubscribe from this list please send an email message to: G E and in the BODY type: R unsubscribe sun-managers S Or . unsubscribe sun-managers original@subscription.address L To view an archive of this list please visit: I S T

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Fri Sep 28 2001 - 23:14:21 CDT