SSD – Risky Business?

Now before we kick off on this topic, first let us decide what risk factor are we talking about - Performance, Stability, Durability, and Price?

After coming across Mario Apicella's (Storage Advisor) article, I am not sure I do agree to all of it since my experience over SSDs is a bit different but you see this varies from situation to situation. I do agree that SSD costs a lot more than the typical mechanical drives at the moment but then when you go for an SSD, price is not your primary concern due to one very simple reason - you are aiming for a better and far more stable solution. You see, Apicella has benchmarked with SATA SSD drives but did not provide any feedback over SAS based SSDs. Now as you may know that SAS drives perform better as compared to IDE, SATA or SATA II since SATA is half duplex while SAS drives are based on Serial Attached SCSI where we all know that SCSI drives perform RW in a duplex mode, outclassing SATA/II in performance. I hope you are getting my point. See! You just cannot say that SSD drives are a risky trade because of a fact that the price difference between SSD and the conventional mechanical drives is significant but my point is that, not everyone would order an SSD. People who ask for an SSD in their solution are actually aiming at a far more stable and LOW-RISK solution and price to them does matter, to the extent where they would compromise stability over price.

Now I wouldn’t say that by plugging in a SSD, you would get phenomenal increase in IO but it does perform quite decently as compared to the other members of storage medium family. Yet again, an SSD is not just of one type and depending on the type of SSD, performance varies.

One interesting point that I see a lot of people reviewing SSD miss out on is, Virtualization. You see, plugging in a 2.5” SATA or SAS based SSD drive in an Intel Blade Server will give you a much better performance as compared to mechanical SATA or SAS but when we talk of virtualized storage especially coming to Intel’s Modular Servers, how well will these drives perform? See, it’s not a discussion we can wrap up in a couple of paragraphs and jump onto conclusions. In continuation of this blog, I will post one of my researches over SSD technology and the performance benchmarks considering the price factor in mind but for now, I would say that SSD is expensive but then the performance gain and stability is better than the mechanical drives which a lot of customers actually aim for. Adding more to it, price of SSD drives is dropping faster than those of mechanical drives; and as such the days of the mechanical hard drive are numbered. We are constantly hearing about the fruition of solid state memory technologies (such as MRAM which has been theorized since the 1970's) that provide more density and reliability, lower power, and faster write times. Mechanical hard drives are now once again bottle-necked by technology since perpendicular heads have become main-stream as have the corresponding aerial density increase that accompanied perpendicular heads.

These are a few simple facts and I think it would not be fair to say that solid state upgrade is a risky business at all. Perhaps the subject should have been, “Solid State Upgrades - Cost or Peace of Mind?"


Javed Lodhi