Are SSDs Worth It In The Data Center?
For decades, hard drives have ruled data centers as the only viable, cost-efficient way to store data. However, innovations like 3D NAND technology raise the amount of memory that can be stored in a single chip, lowering the overall cost per GB for solid state drives (SSDs). With renewed competition, SSDs are becoming cheaper than ever before, as prices are expected to cut in half by the end of 2015. Now that cheap, large SSDs are becoming so prevalent, is it time for companies to consider SSDs for their data center?
SSDs and HDDs – The Pros and Cons
In many ways, SSDs provide a far better data storage experience compared to typical hard drives. SSDs are not just far faster in I/O speeds, but also consume less power and run cooler, which can make a big impact when hundreds of drives are being used on a rack, and you’re being charged by the kilowatt for both energy usage and cooling. In addition, for teams that have to move between data centers or consider the many costs associated with DC services, SSDs are not only lighter (aka lower shipping costs), but they also contain no moving parts, reducing the risk of damage during transit.
However, SSDs still remain limited compared to hard drives in two major aspects: cost and capacity. While SSDs are getting cheaper, hard drives have also gotten cheaper in recent years, with a cost per GB as little as a tenth of what it will cost in SSDs. In addition, SSDs are only just beginning to offer multi-TB capacities, whereas hard drives have been storing tons of long-term content. But it’s worth noting that Intel is already developing even more massive 10TB SSDs for enterprise applications too, though the costs will remain extremely high.
The business need for SSDs
When it comes to SSDs in the data center, there has to be a considerable advantage in order to justify moving an entire firm’s technology and equipment from hard drives to SSDs — like a network being bottlenecked by the limited speeds of hard drives. The IOPS SSDs provide in an array are much greater than what any typical hard drive solution can offer, lending the viability of an SSD-powered data center if speeds are limited for cached and recent web content.
Moreover, it’s important to realize the business needs for hard drives too. Long-term storage typically requires few reads and writes, but lots of space to store content on demand. SSDs are just not as efficient for that, and work better in tandem with SSDs that store more popular or recent content.
In the end, SSDs are getting a lot cheaper with each passing year, spelling good news for firms that seek the speed, energy, and durability SSDs provide. However, caution demands an ideal, advantageous, business need to ultimately transition to this costly technology, and hard drives remain best for long-term, rarely utilized data storage needs.
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