SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Courtney Abud

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Data Tiering or SSDs?

In an ideal world, you’d be able to put all of your company’s data on the fastest, most reliable storage media out there. Today, that would mean solid state drives (SSDs). The problem, of course, is that SSDs are vastly more expensive than other storage management solutions, such as data tiering. Tiering lets you make sure that the data your company needs most is available fastest and most readily.

Not just speed

SSDs offer better performance than hard dis drives. That’s basic. But what you might not realize is that SSDs also beat out hard drives in a number of other areas. For example, solid state drives:

•    Have no moving parts, resulting in fewer physical failures

•    Use less power than traditional hard disk drives

•    Eliminate the variable performance that is inevitable with a spinning drive

Hard disk drives aren’t going to catch up with SSDs in these areas, either. Their basic design prevents that from happening.

Understanding tiering

A tiering model, on the other hand, incorporates a number of different storage media. In this model, you might see solid state drives at the top of the storage tiers. Below it, you’ll find high-performing Fibre Channel storage, SAS storage, and SATA drives.

The idea behind data tiering of your storage infrastructure is that you put the data that’s most frequently used on the drives that perform the best. Less-used data goes onto those lower-cost, but higher-capacity drives at the bottom tiers.

Deduplication addresses concerns

One of the ways that businesses are finding that they can bypass tiering in favor of a more thoroughly solid state environment is with deduplication. Today’s storage environments demand as much efficiency as possible, and one all-SSD model for infrastructure takes that efficiency to a whole new level.

This architecture uses inline deduplication in order to prevent redundant sets of data from being stored. As this kind of deduplication takes hold, it becomes more and more likely that we’ll see all-SSD environments in the near future.

Cost is still a factor

Today’s solid state drives can cost as much as 10 times more than other data storage media in the lower tiers. Even when you factor in things like drive replacement and failure, there’s still a huge cost advantage to using a tiered architecture.

As costs for SSD drop, however, that may well change.


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Unitiv, Inc., is a professional provider of enterprise IT solutions. Unitiv delivers its services from its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, and its regional office in Iselin, New Jersey, USA. Unitiv provides a strategic approach to its service delivery, focusing on three core components: People, Products, and Processes. The People to advise and support customers. The Products to design and build solutions. The Processes to govern and manage post-implementation operations.

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