20 Questions on SSD: Things you’ll want to ask.
Question #1: Is your SSD qualified for production?
This is the 1st in a series of blogs where we’ll explore a number a questions we regularly receive and discuss with enterprise customers when selecting an SSD for their data centers. These go beyond that first and most obvious, “how much does it cost” question. Often, these secondary questions and details play a larger role in in selecting the proper SSD than the $/GB or $/IOP (IO Operation) cost that begins many of these discussions. In my Enterprise IT experience, I always depended on the production support, qualification, and service from one or more OEMs. Only in the rarest conditions did anything ever land in production without full support and a 4-hour call-to-repair service agreement. The good news here is the Intel Data Center Family of SSDs are qualified by many of the major OEMs for use in the data center. As an example, the 2.5” form factor Intel SSD DC 3700 Series 400GB drive is available as an Intel branded drive with SKU (stock keeping unit) SSDSC2BA400G3, from Dell the SKU is 6XJ05, from HP the SKU is MK0400GCTZA, and from IBM the SKU is 41Y8336. Many other OEMs have certified the Intel Data Center SSDs and use the Intel generic SKU in place of a custom number.
So what does this say for the Intel Data Center SSDs? It says that those OEMs have acknowledged the quality of the devices, run them through exhaustive qualification and stress testing, and are willing to support them in the various configurations you might deploy in production. These same statements are not true of all SSDs in the marketplace today. If you’re deploying into a production environment, make sure your OEM supports the device because unsupported configurations can make it difficult to root-cause problems when they arise.
SSD to Data Center roadblock number one… GONE! The door to the Enterprise Data Center is opened by qualification, but we still have a lot more questions to ask. Enterprise IT is a complex space, and we’ll need more than just the ability to deploy trusted hardware with production support, we need the ‘why’ and ‘to what benefit’ questions answered too. Next in the upcoming series, we’ll talk about more details starting with workload characterization and how knowing the IO profile of an application will help select the right SSD for the job. See you then…
Christian Black is a Datacenter Solutions Architect covering the HPC and Big Data space within Intel’s Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group. He comes from a 23 year career in Enterprise IT and you can follow his travels on Twitter at @RekhunSSDs