Thursday, July 9, 2009

Who's Who on the SSD-Tuned Array Bandwagon

by Heather

This year has seen practically all of the major storage manufacturers hopping aboard the solid state bandwagon—and for good reason, given the improvements in performance, capacity, cost of ownership, lower energy consumption, and the ability to realize those benefits while utilizing existing storage area disk arrays. They’re all approaching SSD a little differently, and here are the salient details on the big three:

EMC:

* First to market (by weeks)

* Integrated into the Symmetrix DMX-4, their flagship storage appliance

* Coined the term "Tier 0" for the SSD component of the storage architecture

* Marketed to high end customers--shops whose demand for high performance warrants the hefty price tag

* Zeus Technology manufactures their SSD technology

* CEO Joseph Tucci: "SSD tuned arrays will totally change the game"

* 60% more IOPS, 28% fewer drives, 21% less power and cooling, and 17% lower acquisition cost, compared with previous iterations of the Symmetrix product

Hitachi:

* Current sales leader for SSD tuned arrays

* Integrated into the Universal Storage Platform Volume Manager, their flagship storage controller appliance

* Marketed to high end customers

* Intel and STEC manufacture their SSD technology

* Their SSD tuned arrays are also sold under Sun, HP, MPC, and IBM brands

* USPVM masks storage area complexity, allowing users to ignore the "tier" paradigm

NetApp:

* The Performance Acceleration Module adds SSD support to the NetApp V-Series, their flagship storage controller appliance

* Comes integrated in the new V-Series line, or can be placed into an existing controller to improve performance without adding disk drives

* Marketed to high end customers

* Uses Texas Memory's RamSan-500 solid state disk array

* Same level of throughput with half as many HDDs to lower cost by 27%, reduce rack space by 44%, and lower electricity usage by 47-54%, compared with non-SSD tuned V-Series

* Feb 2009: "Welcome to NetApp Unified Storage 2.0--doing Solid State Storage--our way"

* Claims to have an "18-year head start" in optimizing SSD performance, thanks to their WAFL architecture designed for disk arrays, but apparently optimized for SSD as well

All three claim to have overcome the inherent challenges of SSD in enterprise class applications, including credibility, write performance, and reliability concerns. And all three have chosen to ignore the inherent bottleneck caused by placing SSD’s blazing fast speed inside the storage area network instead of on the server side, but Hitachi has released some switches and other components designed to widen the bottleneck by a bit. It remains to be seen whether this particular bandwagon will go where the major manufacturers are betting it will, but it seems clear that SSD is going to play a big part in the future of the storage industry.

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