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SSDs Speed Up Online DBMS Performance

Founded in 1996, IC Source is one of many Internet-based businesses delivering product availability information to electronic components brokers. Daily, more than 3,000 brokers in 40 countries access the company's database in search of needed items.  A few years ago, performance problems with the company's storage system arose, a problem that prompted the corporation to become an early user of Solid State Disk (SSD) technology.

For a $35 monthly fee, customers receive access to detailed inventory data for more than 40 million components. They can determine what items different vendors have available,  as well as post and update  their own inventories.  By ensuring that product is accurate and up to date, customers can pinpoint their best potential deals. To maintain the data, the company developed a proprietary Microsoft's SQL Server applications that update the inventory data in real time as well as support sophisticated search capabilities.

The component information is housed in a datacenter in Albany, NY. To cut down on its server requirements, IC Source embraced virtualization a year ago. They support about 600GB of information and that number has been rising at 10-20 percent per year. Near the end of 2006, the company noticed performance was degrading, largely in part to limitations with its Hewlett-Packard hard disk drives. "We were adding more storage but the controllers were becoming the bottleneck," explained Pete Moran, company president. SSD technology was just beginning to make its way into the data center, so the company contacted several vendors. "We were looking for an appliance system rather than one that had a number of different components," Moran stated.

The desire for an appliance pushed the online clearinghouse in the direction of Texas Memory Systems, which developed the RAMSAN SSD line. The vendor's longevity (Texas Memory has been in business since 1978) and its reputation (Moran could not find any negative publicity) were other plusses. However, the SSD system was quite expensive. Moran estimated that a hard disk RAID option would cost $13,000 compared to $150,000 for the SSD solution.

IC Source decided to sign off on the purchase for a couple of reasons. First, its business is based on the DBMS, so anything to improve it should attract more customers and prop up the bottom line. Also the SSD was a more compact system, so IC Source would save on items, such as space, cooling, and equipment replacements. So in early 2007, the company order the RAMSAN SSD.

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