A better Server-side Flash Solution for increased VM Density

Many of the IT professionals who came to VMworld this week are facing the same situations, they’re looking at flash to increase VM density and improve overall performance. One way is by putting that flash into the host server, particularly PCIe-based flash devices. Server-side flash can be easier to implement and more affordable than buying a dedicated flash array and with the capacities and performance numbers of the PCIe solutions available, it’s an attractive way to go.

OCZ Enterprise Storage, now a division of Toshiba, has flash offerings in both drive form-factor SATA SSDs and PCIe cards. At VMworld we talked with OCZ about their new ZDrive 4500 PCIe flash solution. The first thing we asked was what makes this product different than the other PCIe flash cards that are available? The one-word answer was “performance”.

It’s all about Performance

The ZDrive 4500 has a technology they call “Virtualized Controller Architecture” or VCA that leverages eight SandForce flash controllers to essentially break up the data into parallel streams and process them simultaneously. This gives them read performance of over 250,000 IOPS and 2,900 MB/s and write performance of 76,000 IOPS and 2,200 MB/s.

Flexibility for Mixed Workloads

One of the things that VMware environments are famous for is mixed workloads. Consolidating a group of servers into a single box can force some very different applications with a diverse set of resource requirements to use the same hardware. For this reason flexibility is a key attribute for server-side flash products and OCZ has developed some software that can help to provide this.

OCZ’s Windows Accelerator Software (WXL) actually enables a flash device, either PCIe- or SATA-based, to be configured in two ways at the same time to support Windows applications. Part of the available flash capacity can be allocated as a high performance volume for pinning critical metadata or indexes. The rest of the flash can be used as a cache to accelerate a traditional hard disk storage pool.

This Video is Sponsored by OCZ

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