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FCW : May 15, 2013
ExecTe c h as a specialized appliance. Server-side examples include PCI Express ash cards from vendors such as EMC, Fusion-io and Virident Systems. Storage array vendors --- including Dell, EMC and NetApp --- incorporate ash technology into their products. In addi- tion, Astute Networks, Nimbus Data Systems and Violin Memory offer ash appliances. Organizations deciding between server-side optimiza- tion and an external ash storage device should consider the level of performance required, the number of applica- tions that call for storage acceleration and the manage- ment features. Damoulakis cited scale among the top factors. "If an organization has only one or a handful of applications that require ash, it may be more ef cient to simply put cards inside the servers," he said. "However, if this is going to be on a large scale, it might be better to have an array that can provide that service across the board so you don t have to buy a...card for every server." In addition, if administrators opt to use ash-based cards in servers, they should consider data-management and data- protection responsibilities. Damoulakis said features such as replication are often provided at the storage-service level, so shifting storage to the server side means someone else has to provide those functions. "Whoever manages the server has to be able to provide that versus leveraging an existing service provided by the storage group," Damoulakis said. The management question becomes a non-issue if the organization already replicates at the server level, he added. The hurdles Cost has been one of the main obstacles to ash storage. The price differential, although shrinking, still leaves ash technology at roughly twice the cost of the serial-attached SCSI or Fibre Channel drives often found in arrays. Sam Lee, solution architect at Force 3, said ash storage can cost $30 to $40 per gigabyte, while the drives run about $15 per gigabyte. On the other hand, the way an organization uses ash can change the equation. A ash drive-equipped array that pro- vides a 10-speed performance boost is more cost-effective than conventional technology on a cost per input/output operations per second, Lee said. Caporale said aggregating ash as a shared resource on a storage-area network also makes the technology more affordable. The New York Army National Guard uses both ash-only and hybrid storage devices. In addition, storage optimizers like ash might not solve every performance problem on their own. Damoulakis said the bene ts of using ash to deal with bottlenecks might fail to fully materialize for reasons that have nothing to do with storage technology. "The issue may be in the application and how the applica- tion is written," he said. Therefore, executives who want to wring every microsecond of performance out of an appli- cation might need to do more than introduce ash drives, he added. "There are probably going to be application and operat- ing system-level tweaks that will be necessary to realize the full performance gains," he said. Leininger said one of LLNL s ash efforts has yet to bring huge performance gains, but he thinks it might be a soft- ware problem related to the parallel le system, which was written for disk drives. He said the lab needs to rewrite software and middleware to take full advantage of ash memory storage. ■ 28 May 15, 2013 FCW.COM Enterprise use of ash technology to achieve per- formance gains continues to evolve. Here are three predictions from the experts. Flash will migrate beyond specialized storage into everyday use. Jim Damoulakis, chief technology of - cer at GlassHouse Technologies, said enterprises have begun to use automated storage tiering in general- purpose arrays for a better mix of higher-capacity, slow disk drives and a small number of fast solid- state drives. Vendors will expand hybrid technology offerings. A storage array can offer a combination of spinning-disk and ash drives, but hybridization is also possible at the drive level. Dell, for example, offers a solid-state drive that incorporates ash technology. The line between memory and storage will start to disappear. Of cials at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have been exploring the use of ash for persistent memory "so we can have what appears to be an in-memory database that spans many hundreds of gigabytes to 1T, " said Maya Gokhale, a computer scientist in LLNL's Center for Applied Scienti c Com- puting. In-memory databases store data in memory rather than writing it to a le system, thereby provid- ing faster access to data. --- John Moore The future of ash storage
April 30, 2013
May 30, 2013