Can Server SSDs open up new storage horizons for data centers?

Server based SSDs usage has increased in the past couple of years and that is due to the fact that flash slowly started to take the place of hard disk drive in every median which required a reliable storage option.

Technically speaking, a Server based SSD is nothing but a solid state drive that may be manufactured in a PCI Express form factor and be used as a standard SATA/SAS interface allowing it to be installed directly into a server.

The general functions of the server based solid state drives is to act as a cache in the server or a persistent storage, allowing the SSD server to have frequently accessed data close to its availability.

Many industry technologists feel that by putting this high performance storage directly in the server reduces latency (time required for IO) as the server need not access data from an external storage array. Here, by using solid state drives in servers, data access latency can be reduced by 90%.

Now, after all this reading, one will definitely come to a conclusion that servers which run flash as direct attached storage will run faster—often much faster—than servers with Hard disk drives. This will obviously account to fewer servers for the same workload, for significant cost avoidance.

The other fact to be notified over here is that saving money and boosting performance are not the only two advantages of putting an SSD near to server. Infact, Server SSDs are even bailing out the cloud.

One problem from the start in cloud computing has been the latency and rate of I/O to the underlying storage. The cloud’s early stateless servers have given way to demanding applications leveraging graphical processing units and large amounts of memory, with data stored in local drives inside the virtualized servers.

While the mega-clouds have tried out HDDs to support large workloads, SSD can simply offer much more I/O. Google, Facebook and Amazon have already disclosed the fact that pushing SSDs nearer to the their computing resources is yielding them gold when it comes to performance.

So, what does all this practice mean to an average data center or an enterprise server farm of small and medium business?

Big companies like AWS and Google have already started the practice of buying direct from original design manufactures such as Supermicro, Lenovo, and Quanta.

In year 2016, the same practice will be followed by mainstream data center managers as well. As prices of solid state drives are coming tumbling down and start becoming equivalent to hard drives, their inclusion into server farms will increase by 21% says IDC.

When SSDs arrived, there was a myth in the industry that these drives do not run like hard drives and usually worn out within first 4-5 years of extremely heavy usage.

Even if we go with this myth also, on an average the server refresh rate is 36 months. So, SSDs can/will easily outlive the overall system’s life expectancy with quite a bit room to spare.

Therefore, where does all this theory stand when it comes to SSD implementation in data centers?

Truly speaking, the world of hard disk drives is divided in two: SAS-connected enterprise drives, and SATA-connected capacity and consumer models.

Similarly, in the SSD space, the concept of the enterprise drive is not very well-defined. We are finding little value in SAS SSD with dual interface ports for servers in a world where servers are virtualized and failure recovery is achieved by starting new instances on another server.

Going forward, server SSDs will split in to two camps: NVMe drives with PCIe interfaces for the most challenging tasks and SATA drives for the rest. In fact, the SATA-Express interface allows for both these drive types to talk to the host via the same connector.

In that case, SATA drives need no longer be enterprise drives, since all but a few SSDs now have the features needed in a server, for example super-cap backup power to allow the write cache to be flushed to flash upon power failure, higher write durability and better internal error correction.

In coming days, SSD prices will surely come down, as new technologies like 3D NAND will become conventional. And if SSD manufactures start coming up with discs which have high capacities then their usage in data centers will become mainstream by 2017 and may show HDDs a permanent exit.

If you want to know how this implementation can really benefit your storage and computing environments, approach DNF Corporation.

DNF has deep knowledge in server and storage environments, as it is serving these environments from past two decades. So, approaching this company will be a smart choice not only to head your data center environment of performance scale, but also to witness significant cost avoidance.


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