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SSD's New Role - Power Efficiency

I've seen several research reports lately that indicate storage spending is going to increase for the rest of 2010. While budgets are loosening, I don't think we are going to see a return to the "ready, fire, aim" strategy of storage purchasing. As I discussed in a recent blog on Information Week, the investment is going to be in new systems that use capacity more effectively. Users are repeatedly telling me they are looking for solutions that take up less space, use less power and simply cost less to buy and operate.

There is really nothing new in that list of requests and all are important, but two that I think will become the most important will be power efficiency and operational efficiency. There is growing concern that as the economy improves power costs will soar. Beyond just the hard-cost issue, many companies are dealing with the lack of ability to get additional power run to their data centers. Cost is one problem, lack is another all together. While many IT professionals have no idea what the electric bill is for their data center they do know what the word no means, as in "no more power for your stuff."

There is a lot being done on this front, MAID or spin down drives are becoming more intelligently implemented in storage systems with more granular control over MAID levels. We also need to see greater efforts applied in the use of more efficient components like power supplies as well as intelligent port and card power down.

The big issue however is the reduction of power on primary storage. You can't spin down active drives or the ports that those drives are serving power through. We have to come up with another way. That way is going to have to include a more significant investment in Solid State Disk (SSD). I believe that SSD is going to evolve from being the performance option for the lunatic fringe to the green requirement for the data center. With SSD you get significantly more performance per TB and you can power that TB for a fraction of the cost of mechanical hard drives.

We will get there in two ways: first, suppliers should be able to leverage auto-tiering to move inactive data to mechanical drives and then spin those drives down. Imagine one of the traditional MAID suppliers with an Auto-Tiered SSD front end. The technology exists right now. Second, possibly sooner than you think, is a cost effective 100 percent solid state system with a full compliment of data services like snapshots and replication.  In my next entry we'll cover how SSDs for all of your primary storage can save you operational time as well as save on the electric bill.

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