An Optimized solution for directory services ?

I was recently pointed to a white paper published by Oracle called : Oracle Optimized Solution for Oracle Unified Directory — Implementation Guide.

Because Oracle Unified Directory and OpenDJ have a common root (both derive from the Sun initiated OpenDS project), I was curious about that optimized solution, and if there was anything that might be applicable for our customers. And after reading the 45 pages white-paper, honestly, the Oracle Optimized Solution is not something I would recommend to any of our customers (*).

The white paper describes the hardware used for the solution : 3 SPARC T4-1 systems with 128GB of RAM and 6 300GB internal disks each. A Sparc T4-1 machine is an 8 core machine with each core supporting up to 8 threads. Each T4-1 system has 10GbE add-on network card. And each T4-1 machine is attached to a Sun Storage 2500-M2 array (with 2540 controllers) through two fiber channel cards, and each storage has 12 disks.

Let’s see the average price for this solution : The SPARC T4-1 with 128 GB of RAM has an estimated public price of $24,344, but with only 2 internal disks. So add another $1,660 for the additional 4 disks. The lowest price for a 10GbE card for that system is $2,000 and the cheapest storage array with the same amount of disks roughly $27,000. A total cost per system over $55,000, not including the cost of the Operating System, and a total cost for the “Optimized Solution” of approximately $165,000 (estimated public price).

So what do we get in performance for this price ? Well the white paper will not tell you what the solution is optimized for. The only number that appears, is the time it took to import the 15 Million entries on one of the systems :

[07/Jan/2012:12:19:29 +0000] category=JEB severity=NOTICE msgID=8847569 msg=Total import time was 3790 seconds. Phase one processing completed in 2868 seconds, phase two processing completed in 922 seconds
[07/Jan/2012:12:19:29 +0000] category=JEB severity=NOTICE msgID=8847454 msg=Processed 15000001 entries, imported 15000001, skipped 0, rejected 0 and migrated 0 in 3790 seconds (average rate 3957.0/sec)
[07/Jan/2012:12:19:29 +0000] category=JEB severity=NOTICE msgID=8847536 msg=Import LDIF environment close took 0 seconds

Last week, I was in Mexico with a partner of ours, demonstrating the capabilities of OpenDJ with the customer’s data (exported from a week ago, and which also contains several hundreds of very large static groups). We used x.86 based machines, with 96GB of memory, although we only used 16GB for the instance of OpenDJ.

And here’s the output of the import command :

[25/Apr/2012:20:10:44 +0200] category=JEB severity=NOTICE msgID=8847538 msg=DN phase two processing completed. Processed 21654508 DNs
[25/Apr/2012:20:10:45 +0200] category=JEB severity=NOTICE msgID=8847569 msg=Total import time was 2002 seconds. Phase one processing completed in 1137 seconds, phase two processing completed in 865 seconds
[25/Apr/2012:20:10:45 +0200] category=JEB severity=NOTICE msgID=8847454 msg=Processed 21654508 entries, imported 21654508, skipped 0, rejected 0 and migrated 0 in 2002 seconds (average rate 10815.3/sec)
[25/Apr/2012:20:10:45 +0200] category=JEB severity=NOTICE msgID=8847536 msg=Import LDIF environment close took 0 seconds

I don’t have the price for the servers we used (but our partner can get in touch with you if you’re interested in the solution), but I doubt that it tops half of the price of the Oracle optimized solution !

So before you drink the Oracle cool-aid, think twice about what an optimized solution should be, and how much it should cost. Oh, by the way, there is no cost in license for OpenDJ, it’s open source, it’s available now and you can try it free of charge. Of course, we do appreciate if you subscribe to one of our support offering to protect your investment and ensure some Service Level Agreement.

(*) I would not recommend a directory solution on SPARC Tx machine ever. While the machines have a good capacity for load, the performance for any write activity is really bad, especially as soon as access controls are in use. Most of our partners who have been deploying directory services on these machines will agree with me. As a matter of fact, I don’t recall any recent customer mentioning SPARC nor Solaris when renewing their directory service infrastructure.