Unified Hybrid Storage - The best use of SSD
There is a lot of talk at the moment about IOPS and the performance of all solid state storage. Clearly solid state can offer tremendous performance but how do you balance that performance with the cost of storage for your organization and provide the right levels of data protection?
This is where SSD hybrid storage comes in.
There are really three ways you can use SSDs with storage.
1) All-in – Here everything is SSD. Yes it can deliver screaming performance but it is only appropriate for a small subset of your storage because of the cost. You still have to have more traditional arrays and NAS solutions for the rest of your applications. It therefore perpetuates silos of technology. Also the solid state drives themselves are prone to the same utilization issues as with traditional arrays and solid state is expensive.
2) Added-in – This is where traditional storage leverages SSDs and uses it simply as a faster disk. Maybe tiering is implemented so for predictable workloads you can move data from one tier to another after a few months but essentially it is just another disk. That means that the solid state is plagued with the inefficiency of the rest of the storage infrastructure. How much do you buy? How fast can your data be promoted to SSD? How efficiently is SSD utilized? Does the architecture get full value out of the investment? These are all questions you have to ask.
3) Designed-in – In this model solid state is integral but it is not exclusive. This means that the solid state layer resources can be handled more efficiently. Also since these systems contain both cost effective HDD for great $/GB and SSD for Great $/IOP they are an excellent consolidation play for storage as they can reduce both capital and operating expenses. This is SSD Hybrid Storage!
It all really comes down to the 5% rule. On average 5% of your data is active at any one time. That means that if you can have that 5% sitting on solid state you will get better performance for your critical applications and ensure that you have the rest of your data on a more cost effective storage class.
The problem is which 5% is active at any given time?
Let’s look at how the Starboard AC72 Storage System manages to ensure that the right 5% is immediately accelerated for you taking the guesswork out of the equation.
Performance as a Utility –Solid state resources are virtualized and made available to all of your applications to be used as a utility for performance acceleration on demand.. . You can essentially get the same results you would get from @ 50x 15K SAS disk drives by using 12x 7200 RPM NL-SAS drives and a small amount of SSD. You may not know when any given workload is going to see a spike in activity but with the AC72 you don’t have to. We predict what data is going to be accessed and as soon as we detect increased activity in any data set your workload is promoted to the SSD cache tier. You get performance when and where you need it without having to be a clairvoyant who predicts the future by creating policy. When that data is no longer hot it is simply removed from the tier making sure there is capacity for the next workload that needs performance acceleration.
SSD Virtualization and Efficiency – Since the SSD is not dedicated to life as a standard disk it is virtualized for use by all of the workloads running on the system. Many studies have shown 5% of data is active at any one time. This means that you can sparingly use SSD resources because not all of your applications are utilizing the SSD cache at all times. This is the secret sauce of a SSD hybrid storage platform. Share SSDs smartly across the system. At Starboard we do it across workloads and protocols (NAS and SAN), so you get the best possible sharing of that precious resource. .
Capacity on Demand – In a Starboard Storage System because it is hybrid storage you get to leverage both high capacity lower cost storage resources and SSD based on the needs of your application. Since everything is thin provisioned, you can use the full capacity of all of the disks and you can use multiple disk classes and sizes you every application gets to access storage capacity when it needs it and not before. Need more overall capacity? No problem. Simply add more disk and every volume can take advantage of the new space when you need a scalable storage system.
Simplicity and Control – Controlling the SSD resources in a Starboard Storage System is easy. You really don’t have to. We will automatically use the Solid State Accelerator Tier as a performance utility for your applications when they need it. Because our SSD Accelerator Tier is always there in every Starboard System we eliminate complex configuration planning. You know you will get great performance out of the box but retain the ability to add more SSD resource if you should need it in the future. Starboard Storage also provides an all-inclusive software license that includes powerful features like thin provisioning, application consistent snapshots (VSS), consistency groups, the VMware vStorage API for Array Integration (VAAI), replication and Starboard Storage Apps for provisioning and it is all managed from a single management console.
So if want “On Demand” performance for your storage workloads and think solid state might be too expensive for you or too complex to manage look at a Hybrid Storage system like the Starboard AC45 & AC72 that make efficient use of SSD technology.
You might also want to check out this piece on hybrid storage and SSD as a cache by George Crump of Storage Switzerland. http://www.storage-switzerland.com/Articles/Entries/2012/7/26_Hybrid_SSD_Storage_vs._Unified_Storage.html
Efficient, Performance on Demand - Always!