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9/15/2010
11:59 AM
George Crump
George Crump
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Which Solid State Disk Is Best? Part IV

The next step in deciding which solid state storage is best for your environment is to understand how you are going to use solid state disk. I moved this ahead of how to integrate solid state disk into your environment because knowing how you are going to use solid state disk may impact how you choose to implement it.

The next step in deciding which solid state storage is best for your environment is to understand how you are going to use solid state disk. I moved this ahead of how to integrate solid state disk into your environment because knowing how you are going to use solid state disk may impact how you choose to implement it.Solid state storage has been traditionally used to solve a performance problem of one particular application or workload. That application typically had a tie to revenue for the company. Leveraging solid state to make the application faster allowed it to make the organization more money or improve customer retention. While this deployment of solid state remains the most common other deployment strategies are emerging. Solid state should now be viewed as a cost savings tool. As we have discussed in the past, solid state can lower the number of servers required, number of hard disk drives required and increase the scale of a given project. Our rule of thumb is that any time you are adding servers or spindles to improve performance you should compare the cost of doing that to the cost and impact of adding solid state storage.

Essentially though you can break down solid state deployment strategies into two types; isolated use cases like the above to fix a particular performance issue or a broad deployment to improve the performance of the entire environment. Which of these you choose often depends on your environment. There are some data centers that there really is only one or two servers that have a performance need that can't be met by basic hard drive technologies. This can be cost effectively addressed by stand alone solid state storage either installed internally in the server via SSD or PCIe or externally via a dedicated memory appliance. Typically the differentiator between the choice depends on just how much capacity you need and just how much performance the application can take advantage of.

For the broader use case where a variety of applications will be taking advantage of solid state storage may require a different approach. As we will discuss in our upcoming webcast "Making Sure Desktop Virtualization Won't Break Your Storage" a great example is desktop virtualization. In this environment we want the virtual desktop images loaded on solid state prior to the morning boot storm and then demoted off of solid state so it can be used by other applications during the business day. These situations can be best handled by a deployment of solid state that is managed by either a caching engine or automated storage tiering. It could also be handled by a storage system that is pure solid state that can provide the complete software compliment we have come to expect in enterprise storage systems. In either case we want the high performance capabilities of solid state storage available to a broad spectrum of servers.

Of course the broad use case is not limited to just desktop virtualization, there are many cases where the need for I/O performance is spread out sporadically across a variety of servers. The debate between using caching, automated tiering or even pure solid state will be something we will discuss in a future entry.

Below are our previous entries on "Which Solid State Storage Form Factor is Best".

Part I: PCIe Based Solid State Storage Part II: Solid State Disk Part III: Solid State Appliances

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George Crump is lead analyst of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.

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