Odyssey Logistics Moves To SSD

Danbury, Connecticut-based Odyssey Logistics provides trend planning, audits, freight bill payments, tracking and management to its vertical chemical industry customer base from the Odyssey North Carolina data center. Odyssey's challenge was meeting the expectations of its customers as a software as a service (SaaS) provider, especially during peak load times for its Oracle database.

September 25, 2009

3 Min Read
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Danbury, Connecticut-based Odyssey Logistics provides trend planning, audits, freight bill payments, tracking and management to its vertical chemical industry customer base from the Odyssey North Carolina data center. Odyssey's challenge was meeting the expectations of its customers as a software as a service (SaaS) provider, especially during peak load times for its Oracle database.

"We were running Oracle as our production database with about 100 Red Hat Linux and Wintel servers," said Eric Brown, Odyssey's database administrator. "We had a large VMware infrastructure, and we were using hard drive (HDD) storage." Odyssey began to see problems occurring at times of peak loads, such as transaction performance slowdowns because of the heavy workloads, and also a slowing of response time for customer end users on the Odyssey Web portal.   

"To solve this, we knew we wanted to go to solid state disk (SSD) technology for the performance we were looking  for, but there were many options in the market," said Odyssey's CIO, Brad Massey. "We wanted a solution that would continue to run our operations consistently well on a daily basis, but we also needed a solution that would be "burstable" when it came to handling large batches of orders that our customers could submit to our system simultaneously."

Odyssey eventually selected Texas Memory Systems' RamSan 400 and 500 products to run the Odyssey production database on SSD. The company penciled out a TCO that justified the SSD technology investment.

"We looked at the cost of the additional hard drive spindles we would have to purchase if we stayed with hard drive technology," said Brown, "And we found that the cost to move to solid state drives was not that much different, since fewer SSD drives are required to give us the performance we wanted. From a database perspective, the decision simplified my job, because with a hard drive solution I had to spread the data over many enclosures of disk. Easily, we would have had to purchase 100 additional spindles of hard disk to achieve the performance levels that we wanted, so it was easy to look at the cost and make the decision to go to SSD."Odyssey uses two types of SSD technology in its shop: a Texas Memory RamSan 400, which is a 128 gigabyte solid state  RAM (random access  memory)-based device that was deployed eighteen months ago, and a RamSan 500 that is 2 terabyte, flash-based technology. "The RAM-based SSD immediately allowed us to solve our throughput issues," said CIO Brad Massey, "When we added the RamSan 500 six months later, we acquired the scalability we desired, since the database was continuing to grow."

Massey said that Odyssey took several weeks to test the new  SSD solution before cutting  it over to production. "It was a very straightforward, one- hour setup to install the equipment," he said. "The most difficult task we faced was getting it in the rack." In the almost two years the SSD has been in production, Odyssey says that it has achieved not only the performance it needed for its data operations, but also 100 percent uptime.

"Our main goal was to get the performance we needed out of our Oracle database," said Massey. "We have done that. As a SaaS provider, this was very key to us because we have SLAs that we must deliver on for our customers. With the SSD, our IO wait time is drastically reduced from what we saw with HDD. Most importantly, our customers don't experience any slowed response times when they are interacting with our Web  Portal."

A second benefit Odyssey IT noticed was the ease of adding a new customer to its client base. "Since going to solid state disk technology, we have been able to bring on more customers at a faster rate," said Massey.  "When we were using hard drives, we spent a great deal of time assessing our ability to take on a new customer, and what it would take for us resource-wise to do this. Now, it's not so critical to spend all that time in analysis, because we know that we have the capacity to make it happen."

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