Applying SSD’s to Improve Performance

Adding SSD’s to Your Storage Mix

According to Enterprise Strategy Group research, the top 3 reasons to consider incorporating SSD’s into your storage environment are 1) improved performance 2) higher reliability and 3) reductions in power consumption. This blog will discuss two key instances where the addition of SSD’s to a disk array can improve performance in a VDI environment and while deploying advanced shared file systems.

Addressing the Virtual Desktop Bootstorm with SSD’s
Using SSD’s with HDD’s in virtual desktop environment deployment addresses an annoying and common problem with VDI: the ‘bootstorm.’  The business community all seems, to get going at about the same time by logging onto our desktop and checking email. This can cause frustrating delays just when you are ready to start a productive day. Using SSD’s as a ‘boot’ tier can alleviate the load time for the VDI boot image, allowing for a greater number of supported virtual desktops from a single disk array.

While many variables ultimately impact the number of desktops that can be supported with the storage system, the number and type of each disk drive is certainly worth careful discussion and consideration.  By installing SSD’s and provisioning them for the critical boot activity, performance can be enhanced. 

When working with virtual desktops, the storage plays an important role in overall system performance. If you want to have great, user friendly, virtual desktops, you’ll need storage that enables that to happen. Key areas that directly influence desktop performance include:

  • Host interface protocol and the speed of connection to the storage
  • Advanced data management such as thin provisioning
  • Selection of the RAID level deployed and stripe size
  • System cache size and using SSD’s for read cache
  • Overall system storage capacity and the number of drive spindles
  • Automated tiering usage within the storage system
  • De-duplication or compression of data usage

Fortunately, there are integrators out there who have a wealth of experience in this area and who can help in defining the best solutions for each organization.

Better Performance with Advanced Shared File Systems:
Applications such as StorNext by Quantum, are based on writing, updating, and deleting metadata activity in shared environments. The StorNext file system provides the maximum responsiveness to many simultaneous metadata commands. By housing metadata on a high performance SSD within the RAID, there is further improvement to response time in high Random IOPS environments. A mixed array combining SSD’s and HDD’s in a shared file system environment also has performance benefits in both sequential work flow environments and during file cleanup operations that are entirely metadata IO’s.

Utilization of the SSD’s in advanced file systems is specifically introduced to remove any storage performance concerns associated with metadata traffic. There is no doubt that storage array technology with mixed storage media (SSD & HDD) can yield higher performance for certain operations.Shared file systems like StorNext are often used for Rich Media, data acquisition systems and scientific research. Other environments where this solution performs well are High Performance Computing (HPC), oil & gas, energy research, weather prediction, and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). 

Recommended Configurations for Sequential and Random Workloads:
The usage of solid-state drives to store and manage metadata vastly improves system performance, fully leveraging the higher processing power of disk array storage solutions. Based on the need for Random or Sequential performance improvements in a dual controller configuration, you should consider either of the following options to configure the disk array to support mixed SSD/HDD. This example in the diagram below includes two SSD’s with the remaining HDD’s utilizing either RAID 5 or RAID 10.

RAID Configurations


Sourcing Your Ideal Configuration
We’ve discussed several effective solutions to manage some common IT challenges. The next step is finding a reliable system that enables the effective integration of these mixed drives. Conveniently, Dot Hill’s AssuredSAN 3000 Series supports mixed drives in a single chassis. Just talk to a Dot Hill sales representative to find out more.

Contributed by:
Alan Bracken, Sr. Product Manager, Dot Hill Systems


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