San Jose, Calif. – Solid-state/flash storage systems are still an expensive stretch for most technology buyers, making solid-state systems difficult to cost-justify in today’s budgets, even for demanding applications and workloads. However, with vendors achieving tighter integration and innovation at all points in the technology stack, there are ways flash systems can reach true price parity with HDD-based systems to make all solid-state a realistic choice for enterprises.
Below are tips for evaluating solid-state storage based on real-world applications and costs, from experts at Skyera Inc., an emerging provider of high-performance, power- and space-efficient solid-state storage systems.
Don’t compare price per IOPs but price per GB Many vendors have been comparing solid-state systems costs to HDD systems configured to deliver the same levels of performance. This has become a standard metric for solid-state system vendors selling their products, but in this hypothetical situation, the vendors are describing over-provisioned HDD systems that waste capacity and consume more power than they should. The way they are doing this is to compare a significantly smaller solid-state system that would provide the same or higher performance with the same usable capacity. The additional savings in space, power and cooling expenses are close, but there are relatively few applications where this scenario would apply.
Be careful of artificial price parity and tiers Artificial price parity can be created with caching or tiering schemes, when solid-state retains only the most frequently accessed data while the rest remains on HDD. Unfortunately when the data requested is on the HDD, not the cache/tier, or there’s a cache/tier miss when unneeded data is on the solid-state storage, a complex swap between solid-state and HDD must take place, resulting in reduced performance. This can happen regularly when there is a larger than usual amount of active data, insufficient solid-state capacity, or if the vendor’s system does a poor job of assigning data to different storage tiers. In these environments the solid-state system is overly constrained and the performance advantages are negated.
Don’t get Deduped
Some vendors are talking about their price parity with HDD systems, but are doing it using deduplication technology. This technology has been a game changer when it comes to extending the life of Solid-State Disk. The problem is that vendors’ pricing schemes are based on deduplication ratios that most companies will never see. Make sure you understand what kind of data you are dealing with and the true deduplication ratios to understand what you will really be paying per GB.
Using Solid-State Disk Drives
Solid-state system vendors, in order to speed products to market, often deploy solid-state disks into standard HDD form-factor storage servers and rely on that manufacturer’s controller technology to address wear management and reliability. Putting square pegs into round holes tends to dilute SSD’s strengths in density and efficiency since these approaches often consume as much power and floor space as the HDD systems they emulate, which undermines the cost comparison. Vendors that don’t use this legacy drive configuration will still occasionally use another vendor’s controller, so additional profit must be baked in to the customer price.
Solid-state system vendors that have innovated their own technology instead buy raw NAND Flash from OEMs like Toshiba, Samsung and Micron. They create proprietary flash layout strategies that are not like standard HDD systems, eliminating the density and efficiency problems, and their own controller technologies. This innovation throughout the product development cycle extends to ECC algorithms, different RAID configurations, and strategies to address flash wear management and reliability. With these improvements, even cost-effective consumer-grade MLC flash can be used in enterprise-class solid-state storage systems.
Skyera Inc. is an emerging provider of enterprise solid-state storage systems designed to enable a large class of applications with extraordinarily high performance, exceptionally lower power consumption and cost effectiveness relative to existing enterprise storage systems. Founded by the executives who previously developed the world's most-advanced flash memory controller, Skyera is backed by key technology and financial partnerships designed to position it at the forefront of the hyper growth in the solid state storage sector. The company was featured in the Gartner report "Cool Vendors in Storage Technologies, 2012" and was chosen by Flash Memory Summit as a Best of Show award winner for 2012 in the category of Most Innovative Flash Memory Enterprise Business Application. For more information about the company, visit skyera.com.