Two interesting takes on storage controller bottlenecks have appeared in the past few months. The first is a late June posting entitled I Have Seen the Future of Solid-State Storage, and It’s Scale-Out in which Network Computing’s Howard Marks discusses SSD’s impact on storage controller bandwidth. According to Marks, today’s controllers have been more than powerful enough to support current levels of hard disk performance without causing any performance bottlenecks, even with CPU-intensive business continuity features, such as thin provisioning, snapshots, and replication tacked on. Add SSD, however, and the controller struggles to keep up. Why? According to Marks, the power needed from the disk controller is a function of IOPS, not disk capacity. With five or ten MLC SSD’s delivering the same number of IOPs as 1,000 disk drives, the typical single or dual-controller architecture of legacy arrays simply won’t cut it. Add business continuity features such as snapshots and you have even more of a problem.
Posts Tagged ‘SSD array’
RIP Storage Controller
Scale Out, Not UpBy Gareth Taube, Vice President Marketing, Kaminario
SSD Array Architectures and Latency: The Proof is in the Pudding
PROOF THAT SSD ARCHITECTURE MATTERSBy Gareth Taube, Vice President Marketing, Kaminario
There are some interesting discussions revolving around Robin Harris’s StorageMojo blog—too bad he’s taken a vacation just when the discussion’s getting really good. The topic is SSD architectures and whether disk-form-factor SSD arrays can possibly provide the kind of performance speed-hungry applications require.
At Kaminario we’ve long argued that a disk-form-factor SSD architecture is inherently flawed. While the SSD itself might deliver on performance, inevitably the legacy storage controllers and other legacy components become a performance and reliability bottleneck, increasing latency and reducing throughput as several SSD’s vie for the same limited pipe.
Array Rumble at Storage Tech Field Day
SSD ARRAY VENDORS FACE OFF OVER SOLID-STATE STORAGE ARCHITECTURESBy Gareth Taube, Vice President Marketing, Kaminario
Another interesting seminar at Stephen Foskett’s Tech Field Day, hosted by Nigel Poulton, addressed the best architecture for an SSD array. Participants included Thomas Isakovich, CEO and Founder of Nimbus Data Systems, Umesh Maheswhari, CTO and founder of Nimble Storage, Jonathan Goldick, software CTO at Violin Memory, and Dave Wright, founder and CEO of SolidFire. It was a pretty lively debate, with Goldick grinning broadly through much of it and taking jabs at the others. One couldn’t help but wonder what he was grinning about.
The truth is, there was a lot of disagreement over the best array architecture and sometimes the argument got a tad heated and personal, much to the delight of the audience. However, there were three things everyone could agree to. First, the best architecture is one that provides an ideal balance of scalability, share ability, reliability, and performance, not performance alone. Second, for all but the few most performance- and latency-sensitive applications, it’s more important to provide consistent, predictable performance for an array of applications, than to provide the absolute best performance. And third, the best architecture is a mix of commodity hardware and a software architecture designed from the ground up for SSD. Sound familiar? Read the rest of this entry »
Welcome to the Party, EMC
EMC’S LIKELY ACQUISITION OF XTREMEIO VALIDATES SSD AS A TIER 1 STORAGE SOLUTIONBy Gareth Taube, Vice President Marketing, Kaminario
The press has picked up on indications that EMC is about to acquire future SSD array vendor XtremeIO. This is an interesting development coming on the heels of EMC’s Project Lightning and Thunder announcements. As everyone knows, EMC is the mother of all disk storage vendors and has, until now, touted SSD primarily as a cache solution fronting and accelerating scores of legacy EMC disk storage arrays. Project Lightning and Thunder reflect this strategy, with Lightning providing a server based PCI SSD read cache solution and Project Thunder looking to do the same thing with a storage array.
XtremeIO is in prerelease semi-secretive mode right now, but has said clearly that it aims to produce pure SSD arrays to compete with the likes of Kaminario, Violin Memory, and all the other usual SSD array suspects. An EMC acquisition of such a vendor indicates that holes have developed in EMC’s SSD cache armor and the disk storage giant feels forced to validate SSD arrays as a large, viable, growing market competing with disk. It will be interesting to see how EMC integrates XtremeIO’s technology into its strategy without eating into its bread and butter disk array product line.
Array Vendors: Get out of SSD’s Way
ARRAY VENDORS THAT USE DISK-FORM-FACTOR SSD’S JUST DON’T GET ITBy Gareth Taube, Vice President Marketing, Kaminario
In his blog entry entitled Are SSD-based arrays a bad idea? Robin Harris argues that packing arrays full of disk-form-factor SSD’s is counterproductive. Why? He cites several reasons, including latency, bandwidth, reliability, and cost, but mostly it boils down to squeezing a fast storage media into a slow architecture—much like driving a race car through rush hour traffic or putting wings on a bicycle. Cost and reliability come into play as well, because shoving flash into a disk form factor is less space efficient, less reliable, and more expensive than mounting it on a board.
Enterprise SSD is a young, rapidly evolving market and will continue to evolve until the industry agrees on the perfect SSD architecture and creates standards around it. Expect that to take several years. In the meantime we at Kaminario believe we have come pretty close. We agree with Harris that board-mounted flash makes a lot of sense for reasons of cost, performance, and reliability. That’s why we pack the K2 full of board-mounted PCI flash cards and DRAM. We also hold down cost with our N+1 HA architecture, RAID 10HD data protection (See What You Need to Know About SSD HA and Data Protection and Why Kaminario’s DataProtect is a Big Deal), and the use of industry standard components, the PCIe bus, and market leading Fusion-io technology.
Hey IBM Power System Users, You Have a Choice
THE K2 HAS FULL AIX SUPPORT AND A LOT OF ADVANTAGES COMPARED TO THE USUAL SUSPECTS.By Gareth Taube, Vice President Marketing, Kaminario
EMC made a big splash early this month with its Project Lightning announcement, but at just about the same time IBM made a quieter announcement, packing an SSD cache into its XIV storage system to help with demanding workloads such as analytics, cloud computing, and virtualization. In fact IBM made a point of claiming that TCO for the XIV generation 3 was 69 percent lower than with the equivalent EMC system.
It’s easy to get caught up in the clash of the titans, especially if you’re running databases on AIX-based IBM Power Systems, as the AIX storage options out there are limited. However, AIX users have a choice beyond the usual suspects: Kaminario’s K2 is one of the few pure SSD array solutions with full support for AIX. Here are some reasons you may want to consider the K2 for your I/O-intensive Power System workloads.
The K2 is a Pure SSD Solution – As with EMC’s Project Lightning, IBM’s XIV system uses SSD as a kind of cache band-aid for slow disk storage, moving data in and out of cache according to complex algorithms. The disadvantage: As with Project Lightning, the IBM cache is for reads only, so you won’t get the fast writes you get with the K2; you won’t get the performance until the right data is moved into the cache; you’re likely to get some cache misses; and all that cache data is duplicated on disk storage, which is not the most efficient solution.