WHITE PAPER Addressing Enterprise Computing Storage Performance Gaps with Enterprise Flash Drives

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1 WHITE PAPER Addressing Enterprise Computing Storage Performance Gaps with Enterprise Flash Drives Sponsored by: Pliant Technology Benjamin Woo August 2009 Matthew Eastwood EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Global Headquarters: 5 Speen Street Framingham, MA USA P F The growth in data being created, manipulated, and stored continues unabated across businesses of all sizes. Compounding the challenge of keeping up with this data growth is the rapid growth in regulations related to how and where information is stored. Computing capabilities have grown significantly in both performance and numbers to meet the computing demands of business. Storage capabilities have kept up with the demand for volumes of data primarily with devices that handle more data and contain more drives to segment operations to meet performance requirements. The growth in the number of servers, storage devices, and networking devices in the datacenter has created challenges in space, power, cooling, and management of all these devices and the data and processes they are running. In addition, businesses have learned to leverage their computing resources to improve their operations, which has led to constantly increasing expectations of the computing resources to provide more capability and speed. These growing requirements have driven IT shops to seek more performance across the infrastructure. Creating and maintaining a balanced infrastructure across the various components are ongoing challenges. The rate at which storage performance of hard drives has grown is well below the rate of compute and networking. This paper discusses how solid state technology attempts to address the performance requirements and how it will impact this environment and potentially change infrastructure requirements. SITUATION OVERVIEW The current state of the direct-attached storage (DAS), storage area network (SAN), and network-attached storage (NAS) markets is driven in part by the increasing legislative and regulatory compliance expected of organizations as well as the exponential growth in online data generated predominantly by individuals. IDC estimates that about 8.1 million servers were shipped in 2008 and that over 10 million will ship in 2012 (see Figure 1). This increase in shipments has led to growth in the installed base, which is expected to expand from over 30 million servers in 2007 to over 40 million servers in To manage the increased number of servers and the space that they require, systems have continued to decrease in size. The increase in the number of servers and associated storage in a much denser environment has led to power and thermal issues, including power delivery, power consumption, and cooling capabilities, plus the cost of both power and cooling and power delivery equipment.

2 FIGURE 1 Worldwide IT Spending on Servers, Power and Cooling, and Management/Administration, $B Units (M) Power and cooling costs ($B) Server management and administration costs ($B) New server spending ($B) Server installed base (M) Source: IDC, 2009 At the same time, IDC estimates that slightly more than 6 exabytes (EB) of storage shipped in 2007 and that nearly 43EB will ship by 2012 (see Figure 2). This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 48%. 2 # IDC

3 FIGURE 2 Worldwide Disk Storage Systems Capacity Shipped, (Exabytes) Source: IDC, 2009 For the most part, RAID technology, replication, and improvements in design and manufacturing and other data protection technologies have resulted in higher confidence in the reliability of storage systems. However, as the amount of data increases exponentially, the new leading problem becomes the ability to search and retrieve relevant data. The use of advanced relational databases helps, yet increasing amounts of data have a negative impact on the performance of these systems, creating a new challenge in the datacenter. As the enterprise moves toward a more interactive real-time environment, the challenge of having more data used more frequently is adding pressure to have data online and more accessible thus, increasing the challenge to have data available and secure while maintaining needed data integrity. A means to addressing these challenges involves creating a balanced environment where servers, networks, and storage all work together in a harmonious and efficient environment. The following sections discuss some technology that may aid in building a more balanced system environment. Increasing Performance Gap Between Storage and Enterprise Computing Systems Just as power has become an issue in the datacenter, there are other challenges to creating a well-optimized and efficient systems environment. Over the past 20 years, processing performance and networking performance have grown significantly faster than hard disk drive (HDD) performance, creating an ever-increasing gap between processing and networking capabilities and the I/O capabilities of available HDDs. This capability gap has been overcome by using multiple drives to meet the total I/O requirements. While this approach has filled the gap somewhat, it is not very efficient in terms of the number of drives needed or the power required to run those drives IDC #

4 I/O Performance There is little question that many applications require very high performance, typically measured by I/Os per second (IOPS). I/O-intensive enterprise IT applications require both IOPS and bandwidth levels to be predictable and sustainable across a variety of workload requirements. Read and write operations performance not only must be sufficient to meet peak demands but also must maintain necessary sustained throughput to meet ongoing real-time demand between peaks. Traditionally, the I/O performance required by these applications has been addressed by the overprovisioning of traditional high-performance HDDs that rotate at 10,000rpm or faster with enterprise-class interconnects such as Fibre Channel (FC) or Serial Attached SCSI (SAS). A technique known as short-stroking is employed to increase performance further. Short-stroking refers to a process in which only a small percentage of a drive's capacity is used (typically because only 10 25% of the drive's outer tracks are used). Because only the outer tracks are used, movement of the drive's actuator is minimized (optimizing seek times), and data rates are held high by leveraging the bits spinning the fastest. As the typical capacities of these disk drives increase over time, the IOPS per drive have not increased. These high-rpm drives typically can produce IOPS per drive. Using simple mathematics, we determine that sustaining 25,000 IOPS (a number that is not unusual for a busy financial trading platform) would require disk drives to deliver the requisite performance. Reliability The combination of greater usage of computing resources and a more real-time environment has increased the amount of equipment and the complexity of ongoing computing operations. Minimizing or eliminating interruptions and delays in IT operations so that they have no impact on managing the business requires increasing levels of reliability across the enterprise. The problem associated with short-stroking and other hard disk dependent solutions is that they are dependent on mechanical devices with moving parts that can fail; the more you have of them, the more likely a failure will occur. Simplifying the infrastructure and reducing the number of devices improve the reliability of the overall IT operations. Eliminating complexity in both hardware and software is an area of focus to make storage systems more reliable. Energy Efficiency As mentioned previously, the combination of more equipment in a denser environment is driving up the use of energy and creating many challenges in the datacenter. These challenges include power and cooling requirements and costs, power delivery equipment costs, space requirements and limitations, and power availability to the site. The number, type, and size of devices control the amount of energy required. In simple terms, if an organization can reduce the number of devices and/or use more energy-efficient devices, then it will lower the amount of energy required. 4 # IDC

5 Cost Efficiency One of the key measures of any business operation is cost; therefore, IT constantly is looking for ways to become more efficient. IT is all about doing some sort of transaction. Thus, measuring the cost per transaction is an important metric to see how efficiently IT is performing. The following sections discuss how technology can aid in reducing the cost per transaction to improve IT efficiency significantly. THE PLIANT TECHNOLOGY APPROACH: ENTERPRISE FLASH DRIVES Overview of EFD Technology Enterprise flash drive (EFD) technology leverages solid state storage technologies to provide a high-performance, high-reliability, and predictable storage solution for traditional storage infrastructures. EFDs fill the storage performance gap by replacing many high-rpm HDDs with a small number of EFDs to provide storage cost savings, improved performance flexibility, and substantially reduced energy and space requirements. In addition, EFDs fit into the existing infrastructure without requiring modifications or changes to storage management solutions. EFD Architecture I/O performance. Because EFDs are based on flash memory and can provide performance upwards of 1,000 times that of a hard disk drive, a single EFD could theoretically replace hundreds (or, in more extreme cases, thousands) of rotating magnetic HDDs and still deliver the same I/O performance. EFDs can simultaneously perform multiple read/write transactions and independently transfer data via both (dual) ports. This enables dramatic performance improvements and predictable performance across a wide range of read/write mixed (90%/10% to 60%/40%) workloads for consistent performance. Reliability. EFDs are more reliable than HDDs because they do not have the mechanical wear and tear that comes with moving parts. Silicon-based devices have proven to be far more reliable than mechanical devices such as HDDs in terms of mean time between failure (MTBF) and resiliency to shock and vibration. Pliant's EFDs are integrated with advanced data integrity and correction techniques that provide improved data reliability (uncorrectable bit error rates) over enterprise HDDs. Combined, these features are designed to offer improved data reliability and fewer failures for more reliable storage solutions. Energy efficiency. As we highlighted earlier, sustaining 25,000 IOPS would take over 100 drives (assuming the absence of any caching technology). Apart from the capital and operating costs associated with this many disk drives, there is also the environmental and facilities aspect. The total energy required for 100 high-rpm drives (each averaging 15 watts) is 1,500 watts, and assuming that it takes one additional watt (per watt of power consumed) to cool the rack, the total power requirement to support these drives rises to 3,000 watts (not including the controllers, inefficiency of the power supplies, and other rack components such as fans). Then there is the floor space required. A 3U storage rack disk shelf can 2009 IDC #

6 hold 15 disk drives, and 100 drives require seven disk shelves for a total rack space of 21U or half a full-size rack. A single EFD can sustain 25,000 IOPS to replace the 100+ drives for a dramatic reduction in footprint and energy requirements of more than 90%. Cost efficiency. While a solid state technology based EFD costs more than an HDD, the performance difference is much greater than the cost difference. This enables a reduction in both cost per transaction and overall storage costs by replacing many HDDs with a single EFD. Designing a storage solution with EFDs for performance and SATA HDDs for bulk storage capacity has the potential to provide for a more cost-efficient solution. High-capacity HDDs are best utilized for less frequently accessed data and lower the $/GB. EFDs, on the other hand, improve performance while optimizing for $/IOPS. This reduces the number of drives required, lowers the overall storage system cost, and increases reliability. Most storage system OEMs are integrating the SAS interface because it simplifies the mixing of high-performance SAS drives with lower-cost SATA drives. Ease of use and adoption. EFDs do not require changes to the existing software or hardware infrastructure, and they are designed into existing 3.5in. and 2.5in. form factors. They are compatible with existing interfaces (such as SAS), power connectors, storage enclosures, and storage management software. This compatibility enables EFD technology to be integrated into existing storage solutions and also enables new optimized solutions. Since EFDs are presented to a storage system like a regular disk drive, no system or management software changes are required. This makes integration into an existing storage investment and the subsequent optimization of these solutions easy for IT managers. Highlights of the Pliant EFD Solution Solid state drives (SSDs) for high-performance (IOPS and bandwidth) enterprise storage environments Drive capacities up to 300GB with dual-port SAS interface for performance, redundancy, and reliability Industry-standard 3.5in. and 2.5in. form factors and SAS interface compatibility Fewer drives required to handle high-transaction workloads for lower cost and higher reliability New data reliability features for increased data reliability and protection 6 # IDC

7 VALUE PROPOSITION OF THE EFD SOLUTION The combination of increased IOPS demand from end users, multicore and multi- CPU servers, and virtualization technologies results in ever-increasing demands on storage system performance. In particular, virtualization technologies can often concentrate demand that had previously been distributed over several I/O channels into a single channel. EFDs can provide a more cost-effective solution by replacing the need to deploy hundreds (and, in some cases, thousands) of HDDs to achieve the I/O demands of these environments. In doing so, EFDs can also provide significant cost savings, reduce power and cooling requirements, improve reliability, free up datacenter space, and simplify storage system management. CHALLENGES/OPPORTUNITIES The number one challenge for most new technologies is market education. This generally means creating proof points and having customer testimonials as well as general marketing programs to introduce the information. Most IT shops have a "show me" attitude and will be looking for someone else to show/prove the new technology will perform as advertised in their environment. For general adoption of EFDs to occur, benchmarks will need to be created to show when EFDs are both better performing and more cost effective to use than HDDs. Both faster time to market and product differentiation will be needed to compete in a potentially very competitive market. While this market is still emerging, it is reasonable to believe other competitors will move to this space in time. Because EFDs are based on flash memory, it must also be noted that flash memory has its own challenges as a technology. In addition to the performance proof points mentioned earlier, Pliant will need to show that its technology has the reliability to stand up to the usage models prevalent in the enterprise datacenter. Moreover, datacenter managers many times are resistant to change, and for good reason. If systems are working properly with no disruptions, then a company's employees and customers are happy and revenue is being generated. Understanding how EFDs can help a company save money, generate more revenue, and increase competitiveness will be necessary if datacenter managers are going to risk a disruption to their existing infrastructure. CONCLUSION IT is constantly trying to find ways to increase productivity and improve efficiency. The amount of work that needs to be done is increasing, and the amount of data created, manipulated, and stored continues to grow. Along with more work and data comes an ever-increasing need for higher performance IDC #

8 This paper examines how storage infrastructure impacts the whole computing process. While standard HDD technology has lagged other hardware components in performance advances, the new silicon-based SSDs or EFDs offer technology that can better complement the performance of the rest of the system. That is not to say that a wholesale change from HDD to EFD is ready to happen today. Where requirements for IOPS are high and densities and volumes are high, then EFDs may be considered a key component of the system/storage infrastructure. Some examples of where EFDs may be beneficial include large data structures running time-critical database operations and high-performance computing running real-time data analysis such as business intelligence. The demand for additional storage capacity and capabilities is very strong. Technologies, such as EFDs, that promise to reduce costs, improve performance, and lower energy usage should be well-received. Execution on these requirements will be critical, but the potential rewards are great. Copyright Notice External Publication of IDC Information and Data Any IDC information that is to be used in advertising, press releases, or promotional materials requires prior written approval from the appropriate IDC Vice President or Country Manager. A draft of the proposed document should accompany any such request. IDC reserves the right to deny approval of external usage for any reason. Copyright 2009 IDC. Reproduction without written permission is completely forbidden. 8 # IDC

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