I will not be selling you anything in this blog. I will be sharing a small part of the thought process Ferrellgas (NYSE: FGP) exercised as they evaluated their flash storage options and why they decided to go with Violin Systems and the 7300 Flash Storage Platform at their last refresh.
As an Oracle database guy working at Violin Systems in Europe, I get exposed to some truly big, scary database platforms. Sometimes they are important (like the global PeopleSoft database for a well-known world-wide intergovernmental organization), sometimes they are critical (like the billing platform for 26 million cell phone users in Europe) and sometimes... you just can't talk about them.
NAND flash brings with it a new set of terminology; a new set of pros and most certainly a new set of cons. New flash-based storage vendors are popping up by the dozens. So, what is an IT person to do with all this new technology? Simple. Ask questions and when in doubt, test the solution first.
Storage purchases are expected to live in production for at least 3 to 5 years. Knowing which companies are likely to still be around, what makes their technology different and what makes flash storage the killer new toy or the aggravating purchase you soon regret is based on your understanding of this new technology and how each vendor utilizes it. Read on for the Top 5 questions to ask a flash vendor.
NAND flash (solid state) storage is the new rage in IT. As only a new technology can, it is quickly becoming the focal point in new solutions architecting. Where once we had to manage hundreds or thousands of disk drives, dozens of LUN groups, many shelves, RAID types, unit allocation, hot spots, complex software and tiering we can now place all of our data into one, or a small few, all-flash arrays and receive amazing speed with little to no tuning or advanced planning. Even for systems with a moderate I/O workload this new technology can be cheaper once the software elimination, power reduction and administration time is factored in. But, not all flash storage solutions are the same.
NAND flash is a somewhat new technology and it brings with it a new set of terminology, a new set of pros and most certainly a new set of cons. It is the new gold rush and new flash-based storage vendors are popping up by the dozens.
Ask any product architect from your decade-old disk storage vendor about his BIGGEST source of pride – and you will invariably hear “our products don’t lose data.” Of course!
Storage – as the name screams – is a place where you put your data in fetters and chains; secure in the knowledge that it will not get lost. And it’s not exactly easy to access it after it is interned.
Keep in mind, however, that the sole purpose of the “Data Center” is to put your data to work. Data centers are not called “Storage Centers” after all! Getting access to your data any time you want, any way you want was just impossible.
Topics: flash memory
Suspend disbelief for a moment and ponder the following questions: What would your business look like if we made it economical to run your storage infrastructure at speeds closer to that of memory than that of disk storage? How fast would your applications run? What business models would it open up? How much competitive advantage can you gain?
Storage for DBAs: As a rule of thumb, pretty much any storage system can be characterised by three fundamental properties:
Latency is a measurement of delay in a system; so in the case of storage it is the time taken to respond to an I/O request. It's a term which is frequently misused - more on this later - but when found in the context of a storage system's data sheet it often means the average latency of a single I/O. Latency figures for disk are usually measured in milliseconds; for flash a more common unit of measurement would be microseconds.
Storage for DBAs: Everyone wants their stuff to go faster. Whether it’s your laptop, tablet, phone, database or application… performance is one of the most desirable characteristics of any system. If your system isn't fast enough, you start dreaming of more. Maybe you try and tune what you already have, or maybe you upgrade to something better: you buy a phone with a faster processor, put a flash-based SSD in your laptop or upgrade to a newer model.
When it comes to databases, I often meet people considering the same set of options for boosting performance (usually in this order): half-heartedly tuning the database, adding more DRAM, properly tuning the database, adding or upgrading CPUs, then finally tuning the application. It amazes me how much time, money and effort is often spent trying to avoid getting the application developers to write their code properly, but that’s a subject for another article.
The point of this article is the following statement: to achieve the best performance on any system it is important that all of its resources are balanced.
Let’s think about the basic resources that comprise a computer system such as a database server:
Just came back from an exciting Microsoft TechEd conference. Violin was one of the partners to showcase a cluster-in-a-box solution. We demonstrated Windows server 2012 running inside our V6000 platform at the Partner Pavilion. While this was a technology demonstration, the potential opportunities are very exciting. Just imagine a SQL server appliance that can drive 300-400K (8k) IOPS, or an all-flash windows file server that can deliver 500K IOPS? Now, that's disruptive!
Chris Evans, AKA The Storage Architect, was in town for Tech Field Day and dropped by the Violin office. Naturally we asked him to sit down for a quick chat to get his take on a few storage topics for your enjoyment. Tune in to listen to his comments on: