SSD’s Role In The Storage Ecosystem

In a few weeks I will be hosting a panel discussion at the ExecEvent in Palo Alto, CA on SSD’s Role in the storage ecosystem. The role of SSD depends on the use case. In performance demanding environments and large virtual environments, SSD’s role is to make Intel CPUs break a sweat and work harder by supporting more users or more VMs in a virtualized environment. In the mid-range SSD’s role can be to drive down the cost of primary storage by complimenting high capacity, inexpensive but slow hard drives with an SSD caching layer. Each of the vendors joining me on the panel play a part in the delivery of these solutions.

On the SSD panel as of now are Astute, Coraid, Nimble Storage, Syera and Virident. These companies represent a cross section of the SSD community. They include SSD-only storage system vendors, storage vendors that leverage SSD to augment disk performance and vendors that provide SSD specific devices for installation in servers or storage systems. It makes for an interesting mix and I expect a spirited debate on the best approaches and the role of SSD in the storage ecosystem.

From our perspective we believe that most data centers will eventually leverage at least two types of SSD storage in their environment. The initial use case for SSD in the storage ecosystem will depend largely on where the data center is in its storage refresh cycle.

For example if you have several years before a storage refresh but have a specific performance problem on a few servers, inserting a server based SSD solution in them may be the shortest and least expensive approach. The server side software caching solutions that are on the market are now hitting their second generation and can automate the use of server side SSD. (Supplier note: The software caching guys are missing in action from our panel and they are missing a great opportunity to interact with companies that they compliment perfectly.)

If you are on the path to a storage refresh then a system with SSD ought to be part of your consideration. This is true even if you are not performance starved today. Storage systems intended for the mid-range can integrate SSD technology with slower high capacity hard drives to deliver a system that performs well but at a low cost.

For those that can justify the performance boost, All-SSD or storage systems with SSD tiers should be considered. Here it is important to look at all the performance angles. As we discussed in our recent analyst report on optimizing the storage infrastructure for maximum performance, it is not just the speed of the device that is important but also how well optimized the storage controller and the storage network are to take advantage of the SSD performance promise.

SSD options abound and knowing which is best for your data center is key. Storage Switzerland will provide a summary report of our session as well as briefing notes from our meetings at the ExecEvent. See the links below for our briefing notes from previous ExecEvents.

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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