OCZ’s Affordable, Enterprise-grade SSDs for Hyper-scale Cloud Data Centers

Flash memory is delivering higher storage performance for numerous data center applications and server-side flash puts it directly where those applications live – on the host itself. Flash based storage products, which include enterprise-grade SATA SSDs, are ideal for use cases where performance is ‘Job 1’ and the storage must be able to handle any workload that gets thrown at it. However, these aren’t the only environments that can leverage flash in the server.

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High-volume, hyper-scale cloud deployments, which often include hundreds of server nodes, also need excellent server-side storage performance. But comprised primarily of read-intensive applications like media streaming, photo sharing, video on demand and web servers, these cloud deployments have different performance requirements than mixed-use enterprise data center workloads typically generate. And, the aggressive economic models of high volume cloud environments can preclude the widespread use of traditional enterprise SSDs. This was the use case that OCZ’s new Saber 1000 SATA SSDs were specifically designed to address.


Saber 1000

To meet the demand for reliable, but affordable, high-performance storage, OCZ has developed a new line of lower-cost 2.5” x 7mm drive form-factor SSDs that use the 6Gb/s SATA III interface on server systems. The Saber 1000 Series leverages OCZ’s Barefoot 3 controller technology to deliver the sustained, predictable performance that’s, heretofore, only come from enterprise-grade flash drives – at higher price points.

Purpose-built for read-intensive applications, the Saber 1000 Series of SSD drives provide read bandwidth of up to 550 MB/s and 4KB random read speeds of up to 98,000 IOPS. Available in 240/480/960 GB capacities these drives also deliver write performance of up to 470MB/s and 20,000 IOPS.

The Saber 1000 Series has been configured specifically for maximum performance in these read-heavy use cases but has also been designed to provide an additional level of reliability. It can protect against drive failure caused by accidental power loss, a feature not typically available in comparably priced SSDs from other vendors.

Power Failure Management Plus

One of the more important features of the Saber 1000 Series is Power Failure Management Plus (PFM+), a technology that ensures the drive will recover from a ‘non-graceful’ shut down or unintended power loss. Most non-enterprise SSDs are vulnerable to metadata corruption when they lose power, often rendering the drive unresponsive when power is restored (commonly called “bricking”). Typically, the only corrective action is to remove the failed SSD and replace it with a new device. Obviously, a manual process like this can be very disruptive and expensive for hyper-scale data centers with dozens or even hundreds of drives potentially affected.

PFM+ can reduce this potential for drive replacement by creating a small, 16-byte log that contains the essential metadata the drive needs to restart successfully. PFM+ captures these logs frequently, enabling the hold-up circuitry in the Saber 1000 Series to continuously protect itself against metadata corruption, assuring the drive will restart successfully after a power loss event.

Power Loss Protection

For those critical write-intensive applications that need more than power loss management, OCZ’s Intrepid line of SSDs provide full Power Loss Protection. Like other true enterprise-grade drives they’re equipped with circuitry (typically a ‘super-capacitor’) to enable any final, uncommitted transactions to be written out to non-volatile storage before the drive completely loses power. They also flush all remaining housekeeping tasks and shut down circuits gracefully. This process is designed to provide complete assurance against data loss for the most mission critical applications in the data center.

Web-scale SSD Management

One of the challenges with deploying multiple, independent flash drives across a web-scale environment is system management. OCZ’s StoragePeak 1000 SSD management console enables administrators to centrally maintain their entire inventory of flash drives, across both the Saber 1000 Series and the Intrepid 3000 families (as well as any other OCZ enterprise devices), from a ‘single pane of glass’. This unified, web-based platform provides various reports, like storage utilization and consumption rates, to support resource provisioning, and provides alerts enabling IT to proactively address any issues that come up.

Admin Cost Containment

Cost is a primary concern for cloud-based enterprises, one of the biggest being IT personnel, so increasing the amount of storage each admin can manage is a key objective. OCZ’s enterprise-level storage solutions allow administrators in large cloud data centers to stay on top of hundreds of servers running low-cost SSDs. If they do take a power hit, PFM+ is designed to bring the Saber 1000 drives back up quickly and the StoragePeak 1000 management console enables IT to monitor their entire flash inventory throughout the process, from a single computer or mobile device.

StorageSwiss Take

Hyper-scale, cloud data centers are facing what seem like mutually exclusive requirements: enterprise-level SSD performance at consumer-level prices. To help address the cost issue, many cloud data centers are replacing SSDs in their scale-out infrastructures with lower-cost, non-enterprise drives. Unfortunately, this strategy can cause another problem, poor reliability and the downtime created if these consumer-class drives fail prematurely. OCZ has an interesting alternative for these hyper-scale environments, their Saber 1000 Series of low-cost, high performance SSDs.

Instead of general-purpose applications, OCZ has configured these flash drives specifically for the read-intensive workloads that predominate hyper-scale environments. While this strategy does focus the market for this product line, it gives them enterprise-like performance in these use cases. They’ve improved reliability and reduced drive replacement issues as well, another issue common in these high-density environments.

Most hyper-scale, cloud data centers still need some enterprise-class SSDs, so OCZ offers a comprehensive management platform for admins to maintain both the Saber 1000 drives and the company’s Intrepid 3000 line of flash drives. When you consider OCZ, now a division of Toshiba, also provides the kind of tier-1 support these enterprise environments are accustomed to, this product would certainly be worth consideration.

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Sponsored by OCZ Storage Solutions

Co-authored by Eric Slack and Colm Keegan

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Eric is an Analyst with Storage Switzerland and has over 25 years experience in high-technology industries. He’s held technical, management and marketing positions in the computer storage, instrumentation, digital imaging and test equipment fields. He has spent the past 15 years in the data storage field, with storage hardware manufacturers and as a national storage integrator, designing and implementing open systems storage solutions for companies in the Western United States.  Eric earned degrees in electrical/computer engineering from the University of Colorado and marketing from California State University, Humboldt.  He and his wife live in Colorado and have twins in college.

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One comment on “OCZ’s Affordable, Enterprise-grade SSDs for Hyper-scale Cloud Data Centers
  1. […] To help lower costs, many cloud datacenters are replacing SSDs in their scale-out infrastructures with lower-cost, non-enterprise drives, but facing issues with reliability and performance. Read more in our latest Product Analysis storageswiss.com/… […]

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