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SSDs Are in the Cards

Now it's a category. PCI-Express-based solid-state disk technology first pioneered by FusionIO has now been joined by Texas Memory Systems with its announcement today of the RamSan-20, a 450-GB Flash-based PCIe card. I'll let you read today's press release for all the speed and feeds. To save you time, these solutions are fast and cheap, but where do they fit in? That's what Im going to examine.

These cards fly in the face of a "typical storage guy's" view of Utopia, the one where everything is shared on a Fibre Channel SAN. But in today's market, they may be one of the most logical inroads for SSD technology. In most cases, these cards are going to be the SSD equivalent of a direct-attached hard disk. So why do they make sense?

First and foremost, it is because they are going to be very cost effective. The RamSan-20 is going to retail for about $18,000 and the FusionIO products are in that same price category. This price makes it possible for an SSD purchase to fly under the radar.

For example, an IT manager in charge of the Oracle environment has been complaining about performance to the storage team for the last year or so and may very well decide that the best way to solve the problem is to take care of it himself. DBAs -- and especially Oracle guys -- really know their databases; they understand what hot files are, and they know how to relocate them. They also in many cases own the server hardware that the database happens to be running on. Them accessing that server, installing a sub-$20k SSD could go totally unnoticed especially when you compare the cost of various Oracle modules.

Even if you are not sure what the problem I/O files are or if they can't be eliminated, for many environments the mission critical data is less than 450 GBs per server and the entire data set could be placed in the card.

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