High Performance Storage For The SMB

As the Small to Medium Size (SMB) data center continues to increase its level of virtualization, it is being faced with performance demands – not unlike the enterprise – that result from multiple virtual machines per physical host. In fact, many SMBs have a higher percentage of virtual machines, a higher density of virtual machines per host, and fewer options to address the storage performance problem. To help the SMB storage administrator, Drobo has teamed with OCZ to deliver a tiered storage solution designed specifically for the needs of smaller organizations and departments within larger ones.

Built around the new, automated data-aware tiering capabilities of the Drobo B1200i the solution can provide seamless optimization of storage resources. The B1200i is the first Drobo solution to support SSD drives but Drobo didn’t stop there. The automation of data movement is critical because the SMB IT administrator typically does not have the time or tools available to take advantage of the high performance SSD drive technology.

OCZ will provide the SSD juice to the B1200i engine. Using 200GB OCZ enterprise class Talos 3.5” 6Gb/s SAS drives, the B1200i will automatically move the most active data to the SSD tier for accelerated access and then provide highnew-capacity hard disk storage for less accessed data. Drobo also accelerates transactional writes by having those intelligently placed directly in the transactional tier for acceleration. This strikes an excellent balance of cost vs. performance for the SMB data center.

OCZ is an ideal partner for Drobo. We have had their drives in our labs for over a year. It is the baseline for many of our SQL performance tests and commonly sees 100’s of GB’s of writes per week. Thus far the performance has been steady and we have experienced 100% reliability.

Storage Swiss Take

Drobo is breaking with conventional wisdom by bringing automated data tiering to the SMB market. That wisdom assumes that the SMB data center does not need the performance that SSD can deliver. They are also testing the assumption that a 1GbE iSCSI SAN can’t deliver the performance that SSDs need to be effective.

In both cases we agree with Drobo that the conventional wisdom is wrong. SSD performance is needed in the SMB data center, especially as the number of VMs per virtual machine increases. We have shown in our lab that an SSD, even when accessed over 1GbE, will out perform a high performance hard drive in the same configuration. In other words the application will see a significant performance improvement. With the 3x 1GbE data ports on the B1200i, we would expect even better results.

This is an expectation that we will have the opportunity to prove over the next few months. Starting in April we kick off our B1200i test drive and that testing will include leveraging the OCZ SSDs and Drobo’s new automated tiering feature. You can get a preview of this testing by watching our setup video above.

Drobo is a client of Storage Swtizerland

Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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