Utilizing Flash to Its Fullest Potential in a SAN Environment

Identifying Key SSD Opportunities for HDD Replacement

Joost Van Leeuwen
Scott Harlin

Published May 2013

Introduction

With ever-increasing data storage volumes and the need for faster data processing, many companies require better storage resources to fulfill these requirements. In this chase for the best, most advanced storage solutions for their data centers, IT managers are getting more and more acquainted with the advantages of flash-based solid-state drive (SSD) technology that offers significant and immediate return on investment (ROI) in numerous ways.

The purpose of this white paper is to provide a better understanding on how to best utilize flash-based SSD technology in a SAN environment and identify key opportunities for HDD replacement. The result enables the full potential of performance and cost-effectiveness for modern data centers, and accompanied by intelligent software, provides a total solutions approach not available from hard drives.

To answer the question, ‘when and where do SSDs make sense in a SAN environment‘ we must first review some general background regarding SSDs. The main elements of an SSD include a printed circuit board (PCB), controller, flash memory and firmware. Since the beginning of its conception, SSDs have been designed to write and read data much faster than conventional spinning disks associated with Hard Disk Drive (HDD) technology. The obvious difference between the two is that the HDD‘s rotating disk and magnetic head searches for a specific location to process the requested data versus the physically much faster medium of flash technology which does not have the burden of moving parts.

As such an SSD is perfectly suited to read and write data randomly where the HDD has a physical limitation of accessing random locations which inflict serious system bottlenecks especially as the number of input and output (I/O) commands increase.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Sequential and Random Data
  3. The I/O Blender Effect
  4. The SAN-Less Environment
  5. Adding Intelligent Software
  6. Conclusion