LAS VEGAS -- SanDisk has expanded its CloudSpeed Serial ATA (SATA) product family with four new solid state drives (SSDs) to meet demands of enterprise workloads. The new SSDs leverage software to address endurance challenges, particularly those created by write-intensive application workloads.
Unveiled at this week’s Interop and Cloud Connect IT Conference and Expo, the CloudSpeed Eco, Ascend, Ultra, and Extreme SSDs are all aimed for use in enterprise data centers and cloud computing environments.
Brian Cox, senior director of outbound marketing for SanDisk Enterprise Storage Solutions, said one of the primary concerns for enterprises when adopting SSDs into their computing environments is maintaining uptime and a level of service. When an SSD fails on a client device, only one user is affected, and the SSDs are not optimized for particular workflows. He said the new CloudSpeed SSDs are specifically geared at addressing specific enterprise and cloud computing uses cases while leveraging flash management software to improve the endurance and longevity of the SSD.
At the entry level is the CloudSpeed Eco, designed for read-intensive application workloads such as web servers, web 2.0 content repositories, photo sharing, media streaming, video on demand, and cloud computing. One step up is the CloudSpeed Ascend, which is aimed at read-intensive application workloads such as file servers, web-based apps, and virtual tape libraries.
Further up is CloudSpeed Extreme, a high-endurance SSD for write-intensive application workloads such as database logging and high performance computing. Finally, at high end, is SanDisk’s CloudSpeed Ultra, which is aimed at mixed-use application workloads such as online transaction processing, financial transactions, email/messaging, e-commerce, and virtual desktop Infrastructure (VDI).
All four make use of SanDisk’s flash management Guardian Technology Platform to improve the lifespan of the drives by extending the native endurance of MLC flash while providing full data path protection, including data protection from power loss. The entry-level CloudSpeed Eco has a warranty of three years, while the other three come with five-year warranties.
Cox said the costs of SSDs are continuing to plunge to the point where CAPEX is surpassing that of spinning disks. SSDs can run faster on less power and at cooler temperatures with more capacity and greater density. Hard drives can no longer keep up in terms up reliability, longevity or performance, he added, especially for write-intensive applications such as VDI.
Cox said SanDisk is now seeing some startups skip spinning disk infrastructures completely and opting to go all flash for their computing environments.
Eric Burgener, research director for IDC’s storage practice, said there is a need for all flash-arrays in select application environments, but the research firm expects most enterprises to go the hybrid route, with hybrid storage arrays becoming the workhorse over the next four to five years. “There’s no doubt you have to put enterprise flash in the data center to cost-effectively handle the storage performance requirements,” he said. “The question is can you do it at a low enough price point to make it cost effective.”
One factor that lowers the price point on SSDs, Burgener said, is the ability to use the MLC flash instead of SLC flash and still get the endurance that enterprise applications require. In the past, SLC flash has had much better write endurance, he said, while MLC was cheaper but offered much less write endurance. “Through software technology, what SanDisk has done is manage how the writes get laid out on the SSD so you can get three to five-year levels of write endurance from these much less expensive SSDs.”
Howard Marks, chief scientist at Deep Storage LLC, said the inability of spinning disks to keep up with enterprise workloads (such as those the result from virtualization) has been a challenge for some time now. What has changed is that instead of a vendor offering a variety of SSDs with different capacities, companies such as SanDisk are offering a line of enterprises drives at different price points and optimized for specific workloads, “because the more intensive the workload, the more overprovisioned we have to be.”
SLC was the standard, said Marks, so endurance was not a problem, but cost was. As the market has matured, flash controllers have improved so that MLC is the now the flash of choice. He said one of SanDisk’s advantages is its joint venture with Toshiba, so they have a high quality and consistent supply of flash and better knowledge of what’s going on the at the wafer level, as well as the ability to write better firmware.