Briefing Note: Software can now Define the SSD

Briefing Note – OCZ Announces Host Managed SSDs

Software Defined Storage (SDS) is becoming the prevailing way to deliver storage solutions. Whether it is customers trying to implement a software-only solution to manage disparate hardware or a storage system vendor looking to leverage commodity hardware, the focus on software is changing hardware expectations. As we discussed in our article “The Hardware Requirements for Software Defined Storage” the data center needs storage hardware delivered without storage services. A hardware only storage system eliminates the duplication of effort as the move to SDS occurs. Another step is empowering the software to control and manipulate the storage devices. OCZ, a Toshiba Group Company, is one of the first to deliver this capability with its Host Managed SSD (HMS) technology.

Giving Control To The Storage

At its heart, an HMS drive is a flash-based solid state disk (SSD) but unlike a traditional SSD the management of that SSD is software controlled via OCZ API set. The storage software could be the classic SDS software-only solution or vendors who provide a turnkey storage system that leverages commodity hardware.

The challenge with traditional drives is that once the storage system sends data to the drive, it is out of the loop on how SSD writes that data. The storage solution also cannot control when to run background tasks like garbage collection on the drives. HMS provides storage solutions with that control. They can trigger when and on what drives garbage collection occurs.

For example, the storage software could group SSDs into pools and perform garbage collection on one pool at a time on a round-robin basis. It would know which pool was currently performing garbage collection and send I/O requests to one of the other pools so that applications experience a consistent level of performance and are never slowed down by garbage collection functions.

Who Needs HMS?

OCZ’s primary customers for HMS technology is storage and server OEMs, All-Flash and Hybrid Array vendors, Hyperconverged, and SDS vendors as well as hyperscale data centers. Companies within each of these categories can leverage HMS to make their solutions perform better under load and that capability could be a primary differentiator for them in a very competitive market. To assist adoption and market acceptance, OCZ is also releasing source code for their APIs, as well as the vendor specific ATA commands should companies decide to bypass the APIs altogether for their solution.

StorageSwiss Take

HMS is not just for storage vendors. IT professionals ought to pay attention to technologies like HMS that provide the storage system with control over the flash media. They need to understand what capabilities SSD vendors are providing to the storage integrators and how those capabilities are being exploited. This understanding is critical because full exploitation of HMS like capabilities will provide the data center with more predictable performance and potentially more efficient capacity utilization.

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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Posted in Briefing Note

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