The storage industry has discovered the power of SSD Flash technology. We know that SSD delivers exponentially higher IOPS and consumes less power but is more expensive per GB than traditional HDD. Every few weeks a new product is introduced to the market that is the answer to all enterprises’ performance headaches.
The challenge so far has been inadequate information. The industry as a whole is trying to figure out where SSD should live to provide the best performance per dollar. The options are endless: the host, the network, in the array, managed by the file system, or controlled through dynamic tiering. Recently, EMC announced VFCache, a PCIe SSD card that is deployed in the host with software to cache hot blocks from the server IO system, with future potential for receiving hints on what to cache from a storage array. EMC already has the option to deploy a shelf of disk form factor SSD in its storage system and move data in and out of SSD by the FAST software. The question then is: What should the channel be recommending?
In the field we are being asked to differentiate all the options, forget about different vendors. Why PCIe versus just an SSD drive? What do I gain by deploying SSD in the network as cache? Should I be using SSD as cache or as primary storage media? There is only one answer to these questions: It depends.
Action Item: As a result of the complexity associated with the use of SSD in the storage industry, I would ask vendors in general for the following:
Please make the message to the market as clear as possible. Sometimes less marketing speak is better. Clearly state what workloads are best suitable for your technology based on two or three criteria. Finally, if you have multiple SSD options, please communicate your strategy to your channel partners so that the vendor’s sales teams and their channels are in synch on the message to the end-user. This may be achieved through compensation incentives or special program. Don’t leave to the field to decide because the field will always go with what makes them the most money.