Two blog posts have appeared in the past month with similar interesting themes. In the Storage Soup blog, TCO vs. ROI: Remember transition costs, Randy Kerns discusses the importance of total cost of ownership (TCO) in any storage decision and the role of transition costs, product lifespan, and operational and administrative costs in TCO calculations. Similarly, in the Wikibon blog, Simplicity and transparency are becoming standard features in storage, Scott Lowe talks about the growing importance of product simplicity in taming the storage beast. I particularly like this quote: “IT organizations need to spend less time touching the infrastructure and more time on the business.”
These are important factors to consider when deciding whether to take the SSD plunge, because many people still have the perception that SSD arrays like the Kaminario K2 are expensive. When you consider TCO and simplicity, however, they start to look more like bargains.
In previous blogs we discussed the lower cost per IOP and power, cooling, and data center real estate savings that come with an SSD array. Here are a few more TCO considerations that relate to the two blogs I just mentioned.
Data Migration: Data migration in a hard disk environment can be a time consuming, complex affair. Typically before any data is actually moved, there’s a long planning process that includes evaluating performance requirements, determining the number of disk spindles needed to meet those requirements, examining potential controller bottlenecks, and deciding on a RAID configuration. This can take months and often requires outside help.
With the K2, however, fast performance is a given, there’s no need to worry about numbers of spindles because there are none, and RAID is included. It’s really just a matter of choosing the amount of SSD storage you need.
Installation is simply a matter of racking, cabling, and running some quick performance tests. Then, one or two simple commands create the LUNS and start the data migration process, which typically lasts an hour or two, depending on the amount of data. Similarly, there’s no need to upgrade an entire database application as there is with a database appliance like Exadata.
Simplicity: With the K2, there’s no need to configure and manage your own data protection solution. Much of the management of RAID groups, snapshots, and parallelization happens in the background, thanks to the K2’s SPEAR operating system, and the K2 comes with the backup storage installed. As we like to say, the K2 is Fast, Safe, and Easy. The K2’s management interface is very simple to use and allows you to manage more than one K2 enclosure from a single pane of glass, unlike most of the SSD array competition.
Lifespan: Flash lifespan is an issue that’s often raised when discussing SSD, but with the advanced wear leveling, error correction, and garbage collection techniques used today, Flash can now last for years. Kaminario also uses several of its own techniques to lengthen Flash life (See Built for Speed and Endurance), including distributing writes across Flash nodes and offering the DRAM option, which has no lifespan issues, for fast writes. In fact, the Flash used in the K2 is likely to last longer than the typical three-to-five-year lifespan of an enterprise hard disk drive. The K2 lets you start almost as small as you want and scales to 100TB, and its unique architecture scales performance as it scales capacity, so you don’t have to worry about either issues catching up with you over time either.
No doubt, the upfront costs of an SSD array are high, though they’re getting lower. But make sure you consider all the TCO and simplicity advantages of SSD when making your storage choice.
Tags: cooling, data center, data migration, disk, DRAM, Flash, K2, Kaminario, LUNs, management interface, parallelization, power, RAID, Randy Kerns, ROI, scale, Scott Lowe, simplicity, snapshots, SPEAR, spindles, SSD, Storage Soup, TCO, total cost of ownership, Wikibon