Solid State Devices – answer to the storage needs of the most demanding businesses
Like Storage Virtualization and Thin/Virtual Provisioning, Solid State Devices (SSDs), too, are ready to change the SAN landscape and transform the storage economics dramatically. Absence of moving mechanical parts (no magnetic platters and drive heads) makes SSDs more reliable and better performer with less access time and latency. Unlike HDDs, which use elector-mechanical movements and magnetic data storage, an SSD is essentially a collection of semiconductor memory. With its tremendous speed (as high as 500 MB/s – SanDisk x100), SSDs outpace our traditional HDDs.
SSDs for tier 0 storage?
Some of the prominent characteristics of SSDs are faster boot-up time and file search, quicker virus scan, less heat generation, and minimal downtime. Minimum downtime of application is the key requirement for High Availability (HA) of applications, and a significant attribute/prerequisite to match stringent SLAs.
For memory intensive applications (transactional data, mission critical applications, CAD, Business Intelligence and Databases), SSDs are the ideal candidate since superior performance and unrivaled reliability are their key differentiators. They can be used for tier 0 storage in Storage Area Network (SAN) as well as Network Attached Storage (NAS).
Vendor like Violin Memory also offers flash memory arrays (example – 6000-Flash-Memory-Array) for enterprise-grade application. It offers fully redundant components, hot-swap option, and no single point of failure.
SSD market SSD industry is growing at a phenomenal pace, and it is on its way to becoming a prominent IT/storage trend. Many leading vendors (Fusion-io, Violin Memory, STEC, to name a few) are providing a range of software for SSDs – for BigData, and Cloud Computing, to support for various virtualization technologies.
The SSDs support various product interfaces. For instance, Fibre Channel (FC), PCI, Serial Attached SCSI, Universal Serial Bus (USB) and so on.
A typical datacenter is a heterogeneous environment that includes server and storage from multiple vendors. Virtualization of network, server, storage, and application further adds a layer of complexities. Eventually, it becomes a daunting task to manage, configure, and monitor these entities. Interoperability and the Centralized Management is probably the answer to this problem.
In HDD array segment, several initiatives are being taken to address this issue. For example, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and the Storage Network Industry Association (SNIA) launched Storage Management Initiative (SMI) advocating the importance of open storage network management technology.
Example, IBM XIV arrays can be managed by HITACHI HiCommand server.
Similarly, for HDDs as well, interoperability issue is being discussed. The Solid-State Storage Initiative Technical Group (a part of SNIA) is working to address the SSD interoperability problem.