Where is Your FLASH and I don’t mean Player…

Solid State Disk (SSD) technology is now a checkbox item for storage.  In a few short years the advancement of MLC and SLC NAND technology, density, cost and reliability has enabled a lot of innovation by storage product vendors.

Any storage vendor who is not incorporating SSD technology is missing the boat.  About 4-5 years ago iSCSI was a new cost effective technology to implement inexpensive SANs in place of more expensive Fibre Channel (FC) based environments.  SANs or the block based applications are not going to disappear over night.  In fact SAN environments continue to grow.  In the IT world certain technology continues to be a very viable and profitable businesses.  As an example look at the mainframe market which people have predicted going away almost 30 years ago.   The point being that some technology continues to be used long after the new.  It doesn’t mean that we don’t need new innovations, it simply means that we as an industry have yet to find that “God Box” technology that will replace any and everything.  It doesn’t mean though that the industry should stop trying…

I particularly like what’s been done with SSDs.  Once again it’s a morphed idea just like virtual machines and distributed databases.  Twenty years ago some computer companies created RAM disks.  These were disks using RAM chips instead of spinning platters.  Of course the density was much smaller, but the concept was basically the same.  The big difference with SSDs today is to use them as a cache rather than just a fast volatile disk.  And this is a big difference.

Probably one of the best applications of SSDs is as a tertiary cache for the server.  A L2 cache extends the cache of the processor and main memory extends the L2 cache.  SSDs can extend main memory.  Data reads using a SSD cache can be significantly faster than doing those same reads from traditional disks.  A key item is having SSD aware software.  Some items to consider:

  • Should servers have PCI-e SSDs?
  • Should all storage appliances incorporate SSD technology?  The job is to serve data as quick as possible…
  • Should networking products in corporate SSD technology?  See above.

I think there are multiple architectures and solutions that can put SSD technology to great use.  It’s up to the customer at the end of the day to decide who are their IT partners.


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