1 Mike: Alright welcome to episode three of Server Talk, I m here with Alexey. I m Mike. Alexey, how are things been going, man? Alexey: They re doing pretty good. Yeah, I don t know, we ve launched two of our episodes already. That s been getting some traction and let s see where the third one goes. Mike: Yes, well so far we ve got all of- I believe seventeen listen throughs, er.. half of those at least are me. You know, just checking up. But, I m glad we ve gotten the ball rolling on this project. So how do you feel about it? Alexey: I feel great, you know just working out the kinks, just making sure it sounds fun and sounds good. But, you know, we re getting there. Mike: Yeah and if you re just joining in, if this is the first episode, or rather, if you ve already listened to the first two episodes - podcast two we had some microphone issues, and we apologize for the quality. It was not the best, but you know these are learning pains for us so, bear with us. Alexey: Anyway, so, today s topic is going to be RAID. And were going to get in to that but first we want to kind of structure the podcast a little bit so that there s more of a structured format. And we re actually going to talk about ICC news first. Mike: So Alexey, what s new at ICC? Alexey: So, the big new thing is that we ve launched a new website that has two portions to it, as products and solutions where we mostly give configurations and just different things for different industries, and so on. Where products they re just strictly products for the techie people who don t want any the marketing jargon. Mike: Yeah, I saw I got a chance to play around with the set a little bit and I saw that the configurators are pretty sick. Alexey: Yeah, it s a home-brewed configurator and it s all the products that we have internally and it does the compatibility checks and so on. Mike: So, is this what do you say is this a big upgrade over what the site was like before? Let s say yesterday or the day before, whatever? Alexey: Well, we ve always had the configurator but we keep on adding more and more features to it. One of the features that we re working on next is the power measurements (we talked about it) from one of the earlier episodes, and just to show that it s important we re going to slowly add it to our website. Mike: Cool! Alright, let s get on with industry news. So, what s been going on in the wide world of servers? Alexey: Not much development. There s a little bit of SSD shortage primarily due to not enough NAND.
2 Mike: What s NAND? Alexey: It s the actual chips primary chips that the SSDs are made up of. Alexey: The reason why there s a shortage is because there s a huge demand. Only three manufacturers make them so a lot of people are vulnerable to SSDs (shortage) and now there s a shortage. Mike: I remember there was like some storm in Thailand a couple of years ago and it caused some shortage. Is this related in any way? Alexey: Not at all. Mike: Excellent, that s what we like to hear Alexey. Mike: Anything else that s interesting? Alexey: None that I can tell. Mike: Alright, next week guys Next week. Anyway, on to our main segment. Today, we re talking about RAID. Alexey hit it, what s RAID all about? Alexey: RAID. RAID actually stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. What that basically means is, well, how do you group your hard drives so you get performance and redundancy? How would you do it, Mike? Mike: Well, I would put them in some sort of, I don t know Alexey, why are you asking me? You re the expert, so Alexey: I just wanna see how you d react. Mike: Haha as you see, a very confused reaction. So, how exactly do you configure them? I know that there s like, what? Six different, seven different, infinite numbers of ways? How many ways? Alexey: No, there s probably around ten different ways but let s say, only three or four are the most popular ways. And, there s this really huge key benefits of RAID. As mentioned earlier - performance and redundancy. So, we can get into the different RAID levels. Some of the more popular RAID levels are RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6 and RAID 10. Mike: Alright, are we gonna cover each of those in this podcast? Alexey: We are. Mike: Excellent. Alexey: Alright, so RAID 0 - what that basically means is taking two hard drives and striping them. What striping them means is just taking the data and writing across both of them (the drives). And the
3 performance - it increases a lot. But also, your redundancy, it s completely gone. What that means is that if you lose a disk, you re screwed. Mike: Okay, so is this a common configuration? Alexey: Not at all unless you have backups and just straight up looking for performance. Alexey: The next configuration is a RAID 1, just called a mirror. Basically have two hard drives and they re an identical copy of each other. Performance is not as good as the RAID 0 but redundancy is much better because you have a full copy. Mike: Okay, so let s slow down for a second there. So, who you mentioned that somebody getting a RAID 0 is looking strictly for performance, right? Alexey: Yup. Mike: So, what kind of a company or organization, for what application, would you be looking strictly for performance and not care so much for redundancy? Alexey: Well, it gets a little tricky but the reality of it is that companies need a lot of performance which is, say, like financial companies or someone doing like an HPC system and then they have a backup of their data. Most of these companies either are not worried about their data, meaning if they lose it they can restore it or they have another backup. Maybe this is operational data that they re only working with at a time and they have a backup of it somewhere else. Mike: Okay, and as opposed to a RAID 1, so what kind of organizations I m assuming that these will be organizations where speed is not so important but the backup, the dependability of the systems is more important, right? Alexey: That s correct. Mike: Okay, what kind of companies is this? Alexey: From your general computer at home, if you don t want the headache of you know, we all know when the hard drive goes, all your data gone and everyone s worried about their pictures and so on From your general desktop at home, to even a server where just a company has their operating system and they don t want the headache of something happening. RAID 1 does the job as long as there s not a lot of performance requirement, your data is backed up. Alexey: So, the next RAID that we re gonna talk about is RAID 5. We ve covered RAID 0, RAID 1 and now, RAID 5.
4 Alexey: RAID 5 is two drives plus a parity which means it s a minimum of three drives. And what a parity is, it s just the way that the RAID calculates the information that it writes. In simple words of explaining it, this is really dumbed down but it s made just for simple purposes: imagine you re writing information in three different areas, and you knew what came before and you knew what came after the drive you re missing. So imagine you re writing the information in three different areas, and imagine you lose one of those writes, say the one in the middle. Well, you knew the information that come before, you knew the information that came after, you can recover that missing information. Mike: Okay, so the system just has some sort of internal logic to figure out missing pieces of the connective tissue between the two other drives? Alexey: That s correct. It s actually a math calculation just about where writes that parity. Alexey: But I m not getting into that. If someone s really interested they can PDF it or... Mike: Well, maybe we should put up an article on ICC on insights and explain this interesting enough. Alexey: That s possible. Mike: Okay, I ll mark that down. Alexey: I think people are more interested in making sure that their data is okay and they can access it quickly. Alexey: So where RAID 5 comes in it gives you the redundancy so you can lose a Disk and it gives you more performance than a mirror. What RAID 5 also allows you to do is grow it aside from just two Disks where a mirror is only two Disks RAID 5 you can grow up to as many Disks that the RAID controller can handle. Usually, you don t wanna go usually there will be like thirty Disks or five to thirty Disks and if you lose one of them you can recover. Well, certain companies are afraid of really losing one of those Disks so you know what they do next? Mike: What do they do? Alexey: It s called RAID 6. Mike: RAID 6. It s an upgrade from RAID 5: Alexey: Yup, it s called a double parity. So, basically same concept but now you have two parities, you can lose two Disks. And it s a minimum of four Disks in that RAID technology. Alexey: It s a little bit slower but a little bit more redundancy.
5 Alexey: The last, most popular RAID technology is called RAID 10. RAID 10 consists of RAID 1 and RAID 0. Basically, you have two RAID 1s and they re striped together with a RAID 0 giving you the redundancy of a RAID 1 and the performance of a RAID 0. Mike: Okay, I m just gonna have to imagine that it works because I understand each one individually but when the idea of putting them together I conceptually don t really understand. Can you go just a little bit more or am I? It s something that I need to study more. Alexey: Sure. Imagine Let s draw a few different blocks. Let s draw four different blocks with two on the left. I want to be blue color blocks. Alexey: The two on the right are gonna be yellow color blocks. Alexey: The different blocks are different mirror sets. So those are the drives. So if you lose one of the blue blocks, you re still up there with another blue block. If you lose one yellow block, you re still there with the other yellow block. Mike: Got you. Alexey: So now, we have these two sets of blocks. And now, we re gonna stripe them together like a RAID 0 to give us that performance. Now, does RAID 0 gives you that performance? Mike: Yeah. Alexey: So you have the redundancy of a mirror for each block set and then you have the performance with the stripe across the different blocks. Mike: Got you. That s actually a really good visualization. I can see it now. Alexey: So, one of the big things to consider when choosing a RAID technology is getting your redundancy levels and your performance. And also, there is something we call efficiency. What efficiency is, is how much Disk space am I gonna lose by choosing a specific technology. For example, since raid 10, you have an identical copy in each block set of you have an identical copy you re basically losing half of your Disks. So, it s 50% cost to get them. RAID 5 you re only losing one Disk. RAID 6, you re losing two Disks. RAID 10 is gonna give you that performance so you gotta choose how much performance do you really need, how much redundancy do you really need and how much are you willing to spend. Mike: Right, I got you. So, what most expensive configuration RAID 10? Alexey: RAID 10. Mike: RAID 10 s the most expensive.
6 Alexey: Yeah, right. We can also get a RAID 50 and RAID 60. Mike: Do you want to get into it? Alexey: They re not very popular but they do exist. Mike: I m assuming it s just going by the naming convention. I m assuming it s a RAID 5, with a RAID 0? Alexey: Yep. Mike: And a RAID 6 with a RAID 0? Alexey: Yep. Two RAID 5s that s striped together, two RAID 6s that are striped together. Mike: Okay, gotcha. Alexey: So, those get a little bit more expensive but actually, RAID 10 still RAID 10 is probably gonna be the most expensive and it gives you a boost. Mike: Alright, you mentioned a RAID controller somewhere along the line. Alexey: That s correct. Mike: Is this something that you d like to discuss? Alexey: RAID controllers are actually very important. The RAID controller is that device that groups the drives together. RAID controller is also the device that calculates parity. RAID device also can give you boost in performance because it has cache or memory on the actual controller, and so the items that or the files that you will be accessing a lot will be cached on the controller so it wouldn t have to go out to the spinning disks every single time. Mike: Typically right now, RAID controllers run between 512MB of cached to 1GB which is not a lot. But, there s a new technology where you add an SSD to increase that cache, and we re seeing that development more and more. Mike: And, are you selling this technology yet or is it really in development? Alexey: No, it is available it s a license key for different RAID controllers and then you just throw in the SSD. There s a logarithm that calculates (and helps) store the files and accesses the SSD. Alexey: So, big benefits are primarily in databases. So, people who have a lot of little files, they can see huge benefits from adding cache. If you re using big files, like video streaming or something like that, you re not gonna see a lot of them.
7 Alexey: There s only a few companies who make RAID controllers or internal RAID controllers. The biggest one is probably LSI. They make the RAID controller and there s another one called Adaptec which recently has been purchased by the PMC Sierra. Those are really the two surviving company who make these RAID controllers. Mike: Cool! Anything else about RAID that we need to cover in this specific episode? I mean, we can always come back. Alexey: Yeah, it s a pretty brief /detailed overview of it s a short, detailed overview of what a RAID is. Mike: So, let s say I m ordering a server first of all, does every server need a RAID configuration? Alexey: No. Mike: Do most servers need a RAID configuration? Alexey: I don t know, depending on the use. Mike: It s obviously, well everything s obviously dependent on the function but I m saying like, just as far as the servers that ICC sells, do most need it? Alexey: Let s say we re about Alexey: Certain customers do get RAID controllers, certain ones do not. The reason for it again is the functionality what you re doing. Certain customers, they don t need their data stored in a separate system. They don t need any local storage. So, they don t need a RAID controller. Some customers want a whole bunch of local storage and they do need that RAID controller. So, it really depends on who the customer is, what they re doing and so on. We ve actually found that the most visited page on our website the most popular page is our RAID calculator. It calculates, well, you choose what size drive, what RAID level you want, and it tells how much of space you can get. Mike: Alright, perfect. Now, let me ask you this kind of weird question do you get customers that say they don t need a RAID controller when you clearly know that they need a RAID controller and you re like: what are you guys doing? No, you need a RAID controller. You guys are taking unnecessary risks. Do you get into these situations? Alexey: Definitely, and yeah, it happens. The customers are either trying at a very difficult price point or is not educated enough in terms of what they actually need. They probably accuse you of unnecessary salesmanship like when you try to convince them guys, you need backup here Alexey: Well, I actually try it out or spell it out for them: you lose a drive Mike: That s it, you re done?
8 Alexey: Yeah, so most people can afford several hundred dollars to make sure that their business is stable and they re not down. Mike: Yeah, I would hope so. Alright, I think this is probably enough about RAID for me. Alexey: Did you get it? What are the different RAID levels? Mike: 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, 60 and then exactly how they differ Alexey: That s fair enough. Mike: So, we re closing off this episode. Thank you so much for listening and we hope to make this show big within the server community as small as the server community is, so thank you. Alexey: Thanks for joining. Let us know some ideas. Mike: Where are your manners? You almost didn t say goodbye. Alexey: I always say goodbye, as long as I'm there. Mike: Alright, so take it easy and you ll hear from us next week and remember always go to Check out the new website.
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