|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.
Big Data engines are powering a lot of service businesses right now. Data is collected from users from wearable technologies, web behaviors, purchase behavior as well as several arbitrary data points we’d never think of. The demand for faster and bigger engines to crunch and serve up the data to services is growing exponentially. You see a LOT of correlation between “Cloud” and “Big Data” but on Big Data and “Hybrid,” where hybrid hosting is the sanest approach to the Big Data Infrastructure pro...
Jul. 24, 2016 07:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,842
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Jul. 24, 2016 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,684
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 24, 2016 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,044
With 15% of enterprises adopting a hybrid IT strategy, you need to set a plan to integrate hybrid cloud throughout your infrastructure. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steven Dreher, Director of Solutions Architecture at Green House Data, discussed how to plan for shifting resource requirements, overcome challenges, and implement hybrid IT alongside your existing data center assets. Highlights included anticipating workload, cost and resource calculations, integrating services on both sides...
Jul. 24, 2016 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,924
"We are a well-established player in the application life cycle management market and we also have a very strong version control product," stated Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet,, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 24, 2016 06:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,751
Unless your company can spend a lot of money on new technology, re-engineering your environment and hiring a comprehensive cybersecurity team, you will most likely move to the cloud or seek external service partnerships. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Darren Guccione, CEO of Keeper Security, revealed what you need to know when it comes to encryption in the cloud.
Jul. 24, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,347
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
Jul. 24, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,019
What are the successful IoT innovations from emerging markets? What are the unique challenges and opportunities from these markets? How did the constraints in connectivity among others lead to groundbreaking insights? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Carmen Feliciano, a Principal at AMDG, will answer all these questions and share how you can apply IoT best practices and frameworks from the emerging markets to your own business.
Jul. 24, 2016 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,542
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
Jul. 24, 2016 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,723
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Jul. 24, 2016 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 894
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Jul. 24, 2016 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,669
Traditional IT, great for stable systems of record, is struggling to cope with newer, agile systems of engagement requirements coming straight from the business. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, William Morrish, General Manager of Product Sales at Interoute, outlined ways of exploiting new architectures to enable both systems and building them to support your existing platforms, with an eye for the future. Technologies such as Docker and the hyper-convergence of computing, networking and sto...
Jul. 24, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,008
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...
Jul. 24, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 761
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, discussed the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filterin...
Jul. 24, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,188
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? You need to discover patterns that are repeatable in vast quantities of data, understand their meaning, and implement scalable monitoring across multiple data streams in order to monetize the discoveries and insights. Motif discovery and deep learning platforms are emerging to visualize sensor data, to search for patterns and to build application that can monitor real time streams efficiently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, ...
Jul. 24, 2016 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 811
Early adopters of IoT viewed it mainly as a different term for machine-to-machine connectivity or M2M. This is understandable since a prerequisite for any IoT solution is the ability to collect and aggregate device data, which is most often presented in a dashboard. The problem is that viewing data in a dashboard requires a human to interpret the results and take manual action, which doesn’t scale to the needs of IoT.
Jul. 24, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,880
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 6thInternet of @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jul. 24, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,890
SYS-CON Events announced today the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp, being held November 1-2, 2016, in conjunction with 19th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but with hands-on demos and detailed walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of real world use cases prototyped using Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark, and Intel Edison. Y...
Jul. 24, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,313
Much of IT terminology is often misused and misapplied. Modernization and transformation are two such terms. They are often used interchangeably even though they mean different things and have very different connotations. Indeed, it is somewhat safe to assume that in IT any transformative effort is likely to also have a modernizing effect, and thus, we can see these as levels of improvement efforts. However, many businesses are being led to believe if they don’t transform now they risk becoming ...
Jul. 24, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,114
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
Jul. 24, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,795