|By Chris Evans||
|November 14, 2012 08:30 AM EST||
In the first wave of solid-state storage arrays, we saw commodity style SSDs (solid state drives) being added to traditional storage arrays. This solution provided an incremental benefit in performance over spinning hard drives, however the back-end technology in these arrays was developed up to 20 years ago and was purely focused around driving performance out of the slowest part of the infrastructure – the hard drive. Of course SSDs are an order of magnitude faster than HDDs so you can pretty much guarantee SSDs in traditional arrays results in underused resources, but is premium priced.
Wave 2 of SSD arrays saw the development of custom hardware, mostly still continuing to use commodity SSDs. At this point we saw full exploitation of the solid state capabilities, with architecture designed to provide the full performance capabilities of solid state drives. These arrays removed unnecessary or bottlenecking features (like cache) and provided much more back-end scalability. Within the wave 2 group, Nimbus Data have chosen a hybrid approach and developed their own solid state drives. This gives them more control over the management functionality of the SSDs and subsequently more control over performance and availability.
Notably, some startup vendors have taken a slightly different approach. Violin Memory have chosen from day 1 to use custom NAND memory cards called VIMMs (Violin Intelligent Memory Module). This technology removes the need for NAND to emulate a hard drive and for the interface between the processor/memory & persistent memory (e.g. the NAND) to go across a hard drive interface like SAS using the SCSI protocol. Whilst it could be debated that the savings from removing the disk drive protocol could be marginal, the use of NAND that doesn’t emulate hard drives is about much more than that. SSD controllers have many features to extend the life of the drive itself. This includes wear levelling and garbage collection, features that could have a direct impact on device performance. Custom NAND components can, for instance allow wear levelling to be achieved across the entire array or for individual cell failures to be managed more efficiently.
Building bespoke NAND components isn’t cheap. Violin have chosen to invest in technology that they believe gives them an advantage in their hardware – no dependency on SSD manufacturers. The ability to build advanced functionality into their persistent memory means availability can be increased (components don’t need to be swapped out as frequently – failing components can be partially used).
At this point we should do a call out to Texas Memory Systems, recently acquired by IBM. They have also used custom NAND components; their RamSan-820 uses 500GB flash modules using eMLC memory.
I believe that the third wave will see many more vendors looking to move away from the SSD form factor and building bespoke NAND components as Violin have done. Currently Violin and TMS have the headstart. They’ve done the hard work and built the foundation of their platform. Their future innovations will probably revolve around bigger and faster devices and replacing NAND with whatever is the next generation of persistent memory.
Last week, HDS announced their approach to full flash devices; a new custom-build Flash Module Drive (FMD) that can be added to the VSP platform. This provides 1.6TB or 3.2TB (higher capacity due March 2013) of storage per module, which can then be stacked into an 8U shelf of 48 FMDs in total – a total of 600TB of flash in a single VSP. Each FMD is like a traditional SSD drive in terms of height and width, but is much deeper in size. It appears to the VSP as a traditional SSD.
The FMD chassis is separate to the existing disk chassis that are deployed in the VSP and so FMDs can’t be deployed in conjunction with hard drives. Although this seems like a negative, the flash modules have higher specification back-end directors (to fully utilise the flash performance), which, in addition to their size, explains why they wouldn’t be mixed together.
Creating a discrete flash module provides Hitachi with a number of benefits compared to individual MLC SSDs including:
- Higher performance on mixed workloads
- Inbuilt compression using the onboard custom chips
- Improved ECC error correction using onboard code and hardware
- Lower power per TB consumption from higher memory density
- > 1,000,000 IOPS in a single array
The new FMDs can also be used with HDT (dynamic tiering) to cater for mixed sub-LUN workloads and of course Hitachi’s upgraded microcode is already optimised to work with flash devices.
The Architect’s View
Solid state storage continues to evolve. NAND flash is fast and has its foibles but this can be overcome with dedicated NAND modules. Today, only four vendors have moved to dedicated solid-state components while the others continue to use commodity SSDs. At scale, performance and availability, when viewed in terms of consistency become much more important. Many vendors today are producing high performance devices, but how well will they scale going forward and how resilient will they be? As the market matures, these differences will be the dividing line between survival and failure.
Disclaimer: I recently attended the Hitachi Bloggers’ and Influencers’ Days 2012. My flights and accommodation were covered by Hitachi during the trip, however there is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time when attending the event. Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.
- Optimising Storage Architectures for SSD
- Hitachi Accelerated Flash Storage Ignites Flash From Enlightenment to Productivity
Comments are always welcome; please indicate if you work for a vendor as it’s only fair. If you have any related links of interest, please feel free to add them as a comment for consideration.
Skeuomorphism usually means retaining existing design cues in something new that doesn’t actually need them. However, the concept of skeuomorphism can be thought of as relating more broadly to applying existing patterns to new technologies that, in fact, cry out for new approaches. In his session at DevOps Summit, Gordon Haff, Senior Cloud Strategy Marketing and Evangelism Manager at Red Hat, discussed why containers should be paired with new architectural practices such as microservices rathe...
Sep. 1, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 410
SYS-CON Events announced today that G2G3 will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based on a collective appreciation for user experience, design, and technology, G2G3 is uniquely qualified and motivated to redefine how organizations and people engage in an increasingly digital world.
Aug. 31, 2015 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 502
Any Ops team trying to support a company in today’s cloud-connected world knows that a new way of thinking is required – one just as dramatic than the shift from Ops to DevOps. The diversity of modern operations requires teams to focus their impact on breadth vs. depth. In his session at DevOps Summit, Adam Serediuk, Director of Operations at xMatters, Inc., will discuss the strategic requirements of evolving from Ops to DevOps, and why modern Operations has begun leveraging the “NoOps” approa...
Aug. 31, 2015 10:30 PM EDT Reads: 402
Puppet Labs has announced the next major update to its flagship product: Puppet Enterprise 2015.2. This release includes new features providing DevOps teams with clarity, simplicity and additional management capabilities, including an all-new user interface, an interactive graph for visualizing infrastructure code, a new unified agent and broader infrastructure support.
Aug. 31, 2015 06:30 PM EDT Reads: 526
Early in my DevOps Journey, I was introduced to a book of great significance circulating within the Web Operations industry titled The Phoenix Project. (You can read our review of Gene’s book, if interested.) Written as a novel and loosely based on many of the same principles explored in The Goal, this book has been read and referenced by many who have adopted DevOps into their continuous improvement and software delivery processes around the world. As I began planning my travel schedule last...
Aug. 31, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 544
Several years ago, I was a developer in a travel reservation aggregator. Our mission was to pull flight and hotel data from a bunch of cryptic reservation platforms, and provide it to other companies via an API library - for a fee. That was before companies like Expedia standardized such things. We started with simple methods like getFlightLeg() or addPassengerName(), each performing a small, well-understood function. But our customers wanted bigger, more encompassing services that would "do ...
Aug. 31, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 270
SYS-CON Events announced today that DataClear Inc. will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The DataClear ‘BlackBox’ is the only solution that moves your PC, browsing and data out of the United States and away from prying (and spying) eyes. Its solution automatically builds you a clean, on-demand, virus free, new virtual cloud based PC outside of the United States, and wipes it clean...
Aug. 31, 2015 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 426
Docker containerization is increasingly being used in production environments. How can these environments best be monitored? Monitoring Docker containers as if they are lightweight virtual machines (i.e., monitoring the host from within the container), with all the common metrics that can be captured from an operating system, is an insufficient approach. Docker containers can’t be treated as lightweight virtual machines; they must be treated as what they are: isolated processes running on hosts....
Aug. 31, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 159
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
Aug. 31, 2015 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 362
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Aug. 31, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 897
Introducing Containers & Microservices Bootcamp at @CloudExpo Silicon Valley | #Containers #Microservices
SYS-CON Events announced today the Containers & Microservices Bootcamp, being held November 3-4, 2015, in conjunction with 17th Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, and @DevOpsSummit at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This is your chance to get started with the latest technology in the industry. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Containers and Microservices Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, a Microsoft Regional Director, will include presentations as well as hands-on...
Aug. 31, 2015 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 350
The pricing of tools or licenses for log aggregation can have a significant effect on organizational culture and the collaboration between Dev and Ops teams. Modern tools for log aggregation (of which Logentries is one example) can be hugely enabling for DevOps approaches to building and operating business-critical software systems. However, the pricing of an aggregated logging solution can affect the adoption of modern logging techniques, as well as organizational capabilities and cross-team ...
Aug. 31, 2015 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 401
DevOps has traditionally played important roles in development and IT operations, but the practice is quickly becoming core to other business functions such as customer success, business intelligence, and marketing analytics. Modern marketers today are driven by data and rely on many different analytics tools. They need DevOps engineers in general and server log data specifically to do their jobs well. Here’s why: Server log files contain the only data that is completely full and accurate in th...
Aug. 31, 2015 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 401
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies leverage disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advance...
Aug. 31, 2015 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 309
In today's digital world, change is the one constant. Disruptive innovations like cloud, mobility, social media, and the Internet of Things have reshaped the market and set new standards in customer expectations. To remain competitive, businesses must tap the potential of emerging technologies and markets through the rapid release of new products and services. However, the rigid and siloed structures of traditional IT platforms and processes are slowing them down – resulting in lengthy delivery ...
Aug. 31, 2015 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 602
In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ernest Mueller, Product Manager at Idera, will explain the best practices and lessons learned for tracking and optimizing costs while delivering a cloud-hosted service. He will describe a DevOps approach where the applications and systems work together to track usage, model costs in a granular fashion, and make smart decisions at runtime to minimize costs. The trickier parts covered include triggering off the right metrics; balancing resilience and redundancy ...
Aug. 31, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 237
Whether you like it or not, DevOps is on track for a remarkable alliance with security. The SEC didn’t approve the merger. And your boss hasn’t heard anything about it. Yet, this unruly triumvirate will soon dominate and deliver DevSecOps faster, cheaper, better, and on an unprecedented scale. In his session at DevOps Summit, Frank Bunger, VP of Customer Success at ScriptRock, will discuss how this cathartic moment will propel the DevOps movement from such stuff as dreams are made on to a prac...
Aug. 31, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 235
It’s been proven time and time again that in tech, diversity drives greater innovation, better team productivity and greater profits and market share. So what can we do in our DevOps teams to embrace diversity and help transform the culture of development and operations into a true “DevOps” team? In her session at DevOps Summit, Stefana Muller, Director, Product Management – Continuous Delivery at CA Technologies, answered that question citing examples, showing how to create opportunities for ...
Aug. 31, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 489
What does “big enough” mean? It’s sometimes useful to argue by reductio ad absurdum. Hello, world doesn’t need to be broken down into smaller services. At the other extreme, building a monolithic enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is just asking for trouble: it’s too big, and it needs to be decomposed.
Aug. 29, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 357
The Microservices architectural pattern promises increased DevOps agility and can help enable continuous delivery of software. This session is for developers who are transforming existing applications to cloud-native applications, or creating new microservices style applications. In his session at DevOps Summit, Jim Bugwadia, CEO of Nirmata, will introduce best practices, patterns, challenges, and solutions for the development and operations of microservices style applications. He will discuss ...
Aug. 27, 2015 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 524