When it comes to simple, random I/O, flash-based drives are approximately a thousand times faster than hard-disk drives. With that in mind, the earliest versions of flash-based SSDs came to light over a decade ago. So, why now? Why does it show its poise to supplant hard drives in data centers?
A partial cause is that the data center industry focused on cost per terabyte. The real focus should have actually been the total cost of a solution, that is with or without flash.
Today, the price points for SSDs are dropping. It is starting to become lower than enterprise hard drive prices. What’s more, solid-state drives are currently the preferred choice for primary tier storage. Next, Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) is an extremely quick, low-overhead protocol that’s capable of handling millions of input/output operations per second. Let’s read on to find out more about the factors that are driving the change:
Newer Form Factors
As you might have already known, SSDs have opened form-factor options that normal hard disk drives aren’t capable of achieving. The industry is already using 32TB SSDs in 2.5-inch sizes, compared to large HDDs that are 3.5 in form-factor. Simply put, SSDs are free of disk size constraints. Let’s say that you own a 2U server. As SSDs can achieve more capacity in the same size, you can mount about 24 SSDs. That’s roughly 768TB of memory! That’s not all. The M2.0 SSD form factor is slated to be even more compact. This allows you to save more in environmental footprint and appliance cost.
The Rise of NVMe
As mentioned earlier, NVMe is rising. It will be replacing the SCSI protocol, which has been around for approximately three decades. With that, SSDs that utilize this protocol can achieve millions of IOPS. You will be able to facilitate big data analytics with exceptional ease. Today, you can customize NVMe to operate over Ethernet. This allows you to add a new dimension of connectivity and speed to hyperconverged infrastructure; enabling direct connection of solid-state drives to cluster fabrics.
Enhanced Storage Software
SSDs have helped startups come up with creative ways to mine secondary data tiers. This is a fine example of software-defined storage strategies on chaining data services together to achieve a desired set of results. Thanks to the low access latency of SSDs! In addition, object storage is steadily evolving to the SDS model. Experts are predicting that the file and block I/O will become access protocols to underlying object stores. Not slowly, but pretty quickly! This means that organizations can achieve a simpler and more unified storage model.
Storage tiering between slow secondary storage and fast primary storage has certainly taken off. While HDDs have met the requirements for slow bulk storage pretty well, SSDs and the arrival of more affordable flash solutions, e.g. QLC cells and 3D NAND, have signaled a crystal clear shift to flash-based secondary storage. Adding in deduplication and compression (provided their facilitated by high SSD bandwidth), the effective size of your secondary storage can be expanded up to ten times in most use cases.