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SSD, Flash and DRAM, Deja Vu or Something New?
Often in technology what is old can be new, what is new can be seen as old

Recently I was in Europe for a couple of weeks including stops at Storage Networking World (SNW) Europe in Frankfurt, StorageExpo Holland, Ceph Day in Amsterdam (object and cloud storage), and Nijkerk where I delivered two separate 2 day, and a single 1 day seminar.

Image of Frankfurt transtationImage of inside front of ICE train going from Frankfurt to Utrecht

At the recent StorageExpo Holland event in Utrecht, I gave a couple of presentations, one on cloud, virtualization and storage networking trends, the other taking a deeper look at Solid State Devices (SSD's). As in the past, StorageExpo Holland was great in a fantastic venue, with many large exhibits and great attendance which I heard was over 6,000 people over two days (excluding exhibitor vendors, vars, analysts, press and bloggers) which was several times larger than what was seen in Frankfurt at the SNW event.

Image of Ilja Coolen (twitter @@iCoolen) who was session host for SSD presentation in UtrechtImage of StorageExpo Holland exhibit show floor in Utrecht

Both presentations were very well attended and included lively interactive discussion during and after the sessions. The theme of my second talk was SSD, the question is not if, rather what to use where, how and when which brings us up to this post.

For those who have been around or using SSD for more than a decade outside of cell phones, camera, SD cards or USB thumb drives, that probably means DRAM based with some form of data persistency mechanisms. More recently mention SSD and that implies nand flash-based, either MLC or eMLC or SLC or perhaps emerging mram or PCM. Some might even think of NVRAM or other forms of SSD including emerging mram or mem-resistors among others, however lets stick to nand flash and dram for now.

image of ssd technology evolution

Often in technology what is old can be new, what is new can be seen as old, if you have seen, experienced or done something before you will have a sense of DejaVu and it might be evolutionary. On the other hand, if you have not seen, heard, experienced, or found a new audience, then it can be revolutionary or maybe even an industry first ;).

Technology evolves, gets improved on, matures, and can often go in cycles of adoption, deployment, refinement, retirement, and so forth. SSD in general has been an on again, off again type cycle technology for the past several decades except for the past six to seven years. Normally there is an up cycle tied to different events, servers not being fast enough or affordable so use SSD to help address performance woes, or drives and storage systems not being fast enough and so forth.

Btw, for those of you who think that the current SSD focused technology (nand flash) is new, it is in fact 25 years old and still evolving and far from reaching its full potential in terms of customer deployment opportunities.

StorageIO industry trends cloud, virtualization and big data

Nand flash memory has helped keep SSD practical for the past several years riding the similar curve that is keeping hard disk drives (HDD's) that they were supposed to replace alive. That is improved reliability, endurance or duty cycle, better annual failure rate (AFR), larger space capacity, lower cost, and enhanced interfaces, packaging, power and functionality.

Where SSD can be used and options

DRAM historically at least for enterprise has been the main option for SSD based solutions using some form of data persistency. Data persistency options include battery backup combined with internal HDD's to de stage information from the DRAM before power was lost. TMS (recently bought by IBM) was one of the early SSD vendors from the DRAM era that made the transition to flash including being one of the first many years ago to combine DRAM as a cache layer over nand flash as a persistency or de-stage layer. This would be an example of if you were not familiar with TMS back then and their capacities, you might think or believe that some more recent introductions are new and revolutionary, and perhaps they are in their own right or with enough caveats and qualifiers.

An emerging trend, which for some will be Dejavu, is that of using more DRAM in combination with nand flash SSD.

Oracle is one example of a vendor who IMHO rather quietly (intentionally or accidentally) has done this in the 7000 series storage systems as well as ExaData based database storage systems. Rest assured they are not alone and in fact many of the legacy large storage vendors have also piled up large amounts of DRAM based cache in their storage systems. For example EMC with 2TByte of DRAM cache in their VMAX 40K, or similar systems from Fujitsu HP, HDS, IBM and NetApp (including recent acquisition of DRAM based CacheIQ) among others. This has also prompted the question of if SSD has been successful in traditional storage arrays, systems or appliances as some would have you believe not, click here to learn more and cast your vote.

SSD, IO, memory and storage hirearchy

So is the future in the past? Some would say no, some will say yes, however IMHO there are lessons to learn and leverage from the past while looking and moving forward.

Early SSD's were essentially RAM disks, that is a portion of main random access memory (RAM) or what we now call DRAM set aside as a non persistent (unless battery backed up) cache or device. Using a device driver, applications could use the RAM disk as though it were a normal storage system. Different vendors springing up with drivers for various platforms and disappeared as their need were reduced with faster storage systems, interfaces and ram disks drives supplied by vendors, not to mention SSD devices.

Oh, for you tech trivia types, there was also database machines from the late 80s such as Briton Lee that would offload your database processing functions to a specialized appliance. Sound like Oracle ExaData I, II or III to anybody?

Image of Oracle ExaData storage system

Ok, so we have seen this movie before, no worries, old movies or shows get remade, and unless you are nostalgic or cling to the past, sure some of the remakes are duds, however many can be quite good.

Same goes with the remake of some of what we are seeing now. Sure there is a generation that does not know nor care about the past, its full speed ahead and leverage what will get them there.

Thus we are seeing in memory databases again, some of you may remember the original series (pick your generation, platform, tool and technology) with each variation getting better. With 64 bit processor, 128 bit and beyond file system and addressing, not to mention ability for more DRAM to be accessed directly, or via memory address extension, combined with memory data footprint reduction or compression, there is more space to put things (e.g. no such thing as a data or information recession).

Lets also keep in mind that the best IO is the IO that you do not have to do, and that SSD which is an extension of the memory map plays by the same rules of real estate. That is location matters.

Thus, here we go again for some of you (DejaVu), while for others get ready for a new and exciting ride (new and revolutionary). We are back to the future with in memory database which while for a time will take some pressure from underlying IO systems until they once again out grow server memory addressing limits (or IT budgets).

However for those who do not fall into a false sense of security, no fear, as there is no such thing as a data or information recession. Sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, sooner or later those IO's that were or are being kept in memory will need to be de-staged to persistent storage, either nand flash SSD, HDD or somewhere down the road PCM, mram and more.

StorageIO industry trends cloud, virtualization and big data

There is another trend that with more IOs being cached, reads are moving to where they should resolve which is closer to the application or via higher up in the memory and IO pyramid or hierarchy (shown above).

Thus, we could see a shift over time to more writes and ugly IOs being sent down to the storage systems. Keep in mind that any cache historically provides temporal relieve, question is how long of a temporal relief or until the next new and revolutionary or DejaVu technology shows up.

Ok, nuff said (for now).

Cheers Gs

Greg Schulz - Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press, 2011), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press, 2009), and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier, 2004)

twitter @storageio

All Comments, (C) and (TM) belong to their owners/posters, Other content (C) Copyright 2006-2012 StorageIO All Rights Reserved

Read the original blog entry...

About Greg Schulz
Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.

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@CloudExpo Blogs
An anatomy of startup ventures for the Internet of Things market. Like GE describes in their white paper Pushing the Boundaries of Mind and Machine, this is basically a process of innovating through more intelligent machines to reinvent workflow models. For a useful overview as to what constitutes an ‘IoT startup’, check out one example for some key characteristics: Hutgrip. Hutgrip is a SaaS solution that replaces VPNs with the Cloud and real time analytics, with the headline points being: Clear description of the business benefit the new technology will bring – Smarter automation of bi...
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch of Docker's initial release in March of 2013, interest was revved up several notches. Then late last...
DevOps is all about removing barriers to rapid, safe delivery of new experiences to your customers. Much of this revolves around automating error-prone, human-driven processes so that processes can be standardized, scaled, and varied programmatically. Some of the types of tools used in a DevOps-minded organization might include version control systems, automation servers, and configuration management systems. Many tools can be used across categories, with varying amounts of success. Some vendors offer products that claim to address all of these needs with one solution – most rarely deliver on ...
Application metrics, logs, and business KPIs are a goldmine. It’s easy to get started with the ELK stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash and Kibana) – you can see lots of people coming up with impressive dashboards, in less than a day, with no previous experience. Going from proof-of-concept to production tends to be a bit more difficult, unfortunately, and it tends to gobble up our attention, time, and money. In his session at DevOps Summit, Otis Gospodnetić, co-author of Lucene in Action and founder of Sematext, will share the architecture and decisions behind Sematext’s services for handling larg...
Over the last couple of years I have talked to numerous enterprise customers, analysts, industry pundits, and others interested in cloud technologies, and one thing is abundantly clear – Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) seems to mean different things to different people. But the term PaaS is irrelevant – it's just noise. What is relevant, and what is important, is what PaaS does: enable applications. That's what enterprises care about. They want to accelerate application development to get products to market faster and into users' hands sooner.
The Internet of Things has emerged as the universally accepted term for the ‘next big thing’ wave, not replacing but building upon the Cloud Computing cycle, which itself built upon SaaS and ASPs. There are many technology aspects to this trend, which will be covered extensively throughout this guide and ongoing series, but overall our goal is to describe the associated startup venture opportunities. Indeed it’s not limited to startups, the IoT represents a new product innovation platform for any and all businesses, and this is the overall theme of this paper.
We continue to see an increasing trend in cyber-attacks in line with the growth of new technologies, and enterprises have to protect themselves. It is critical for enterprises to devise their own measures to protect against cyber-attacks because any tolerance on this front is more than an IT issue but may affect the very existence and the business model of the enterprise. We have seen in a recent incident where a cyber-attack prevented a large enterprise from performing their basic business process.
I recently had the opportunity to attend UI19 in Boston, a long-running conference focused on user experience design and ways to be more effective in a UX role as part of a larger team. One of the presentations in particular stuck with me as I returned to Boulder thinking about VictorOps and our evolution as an early stage startup. Presented by Kim Goodwin, her talk on Principles, Values, and Effective Design Teams touched on a number of challenges we’ve experienced first-hand here at VictorOps as we strive to balance the delivery of a great product with the necessity to move quickly, while...
RealTime Medicare Data analyzes huge volumes of Medicare data and provides analysis to their many customers on the caregiver side of the healthcare sector using HP Vertica. Here to explain how they manage such large data requirements for quality, speed, and volume, we're joined by Scott Hannon, CIO of RealTime Medicare Data and he's based in Birmingham, Alabama. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
These are some the Key Release Management Metrics our clients use to continually tune their release management process. 1. Number of Changes pending future system releases (Backlog) 2. Number of Successful Changes within a Release 3. Number of Failed Changes in a Release (Percentage of Failed Changes) 4. Number of Outages Caused by a Release 5. Number of Incidents Caused by a Release
It’s become easy to monitor applications that are deployed on hundreds of servers – thanks to the advances in application performance management tools. But the more data you collect the harder it is to visualize the health state in a way that a single dashboard tells you both the overall status as well as the problematic component. Eugene Turetsky (Dynatrace) and Stephan Levesque (SSQ Financial Group) shared their solution for monitoring large IT infrastructures that contain several hundred components that support SSQ’s most-critical applications running on a variety of technology stacks incl...
DevOps was created to reduce many of these same conflicts and while DevOps has had several high-profile successes it still presents a challenge for larger organizations. Large enterprises managing mission-critical systems still have separate silos for development and operations. In this post I discuss how DevOps fits into the enterprise and what release managers can do to adapt and extend DevOps to meet the challenges present in larger businesses. First, I’m going to define DevOps. Then I’m going to discuss the impedance mismatch between DevOps and a larger enterprise. In conclusion I’m going...

Application experience aficionados take note: you have choices now. No longer are you constrained to just HTTP/1 with a side option of WebSockets or SPDY. HTTP/2 is also an option, one that like its SPDY predecessor brings with it several enticing benefits but is not without obstacles.

In fact, it is those obstacles that may hold back adoption according to IDG research, "Making the Journey to HTTP/2".  In the re...

Microservices, for the uninitiated, are essentially the decomposition of applications into multiple services. This decomposition is often based on functional lines, with related functions being grouped together into a service. While this may sound a like SOA, it really isn't, especially given that SOA was an object-centered methodology that focused on creating services around "nouns" like customer and product. Microservices, while certainly capable of being noun-based, are just as likely to be verb-based, that is to say, based on a functional grouping like "login" or "checkout." SOA was essent...
Creating global change that is actually good for the entire world is a mammoth task. With a population of almost 7 Billion people as of 2015, the planet is taking a toll with surviving the brunt of keeping the works going. What role can Cloud Computing play in making it easier for all of us?
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Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

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OpSource

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PwC

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Oracle

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AWS

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AWS

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Oracle

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RightScale

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Oracle

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