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Why 2010 Will Make 2011 The Year Of SSD

In technology we are always looking for next year to be the year of something. Reality is that most technologies don't establish themselves in a single year, but 2011 could be the year that solid state storage makes significant inroads into the enterprise data center and that work will be because of what was done in 2010.
In technology we are always looking for next year to be the year of something. Reality is that most technologies don't establish themselves in a single year, but 2011 could be the year that solid state storage makes significant inroads into the enterprise data center and that work will be because of what was done in 2010.As we discussed in our recent webcast "The State of Solid State Disk", the first big step in 2010 was to provide storage managers with multiple ways to integrate the technology. In 2009 vendors basically threw the technology out there and let users try to figure out how to integrate it. In 2010 there was a better understanding of how to leverage operating system features like preferred mirrors or live volume migration to be able to move data to solid state disk. Also in 2010 we saw many vendors come out with a sub-volume data migration capability that could move data into the faster tier of storage as needed. We also saw caching products begin to mature that provided a broad use case for solid state storage with minimal disruption for the storage environment. Integrating solid state storage is no longer a "how to" question, it is more of a "which method is best" question. In 2011 we will start to discuss in which situation each these methods is best.

The other important solid state storage happening in 2010 was beginning to understand where each of the forms of solid state disk are most applicable in the environment. The classic solid state disk, soild state storage in the form of a drive, is establishing itself as a solid choice for single servers and as a bridging technology for current arrays. PCIe based solid state storage makes an excellent RAM memory alternative for systems that have maxed out their DRAM, they could also make an interesting internal option for storage systems. Putting an PCIe based SSD directly into the storage engine of today's systems could yield some interesting results. Many storage systems are now sophisticated storage software running on industry standard servers, so plugging in a PCIe SSD card into them could be easily integrated.

The final category is the densely packed solid state storage systems that we describe in our recent article, "What is a Memory Array". These systems gain the advantage of putting solid state storage in a memory module to pack more capacity in the least amount of space. Since a memory based storage system can be less concerned about heat and vibration the per rack densities can be significantly higher. Not only does this reduce cost it increases reliability since there is more available memory to be able to perform garbage collection and other functions.

One of the biggest gains in 2010 is the improvement in reliability. For the enterprise one of the biggest concerns with solid state storage has been how reliable is it? In our next entry we will look at the work done in 2010 to ease the reliability concerns of the technology.

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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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