Data integrity in the Enterprise environment

When purchasing archiving devices it’s often hard to understand the differences between disks and SSD, Sata or Sas, between consumer, Nas or Enterprise tier products: the differences in terms of performances don’t justify the higher price in general. Let’s try to understand what changes in terms of reliability and technology.

All you need is going to the website of whatever hardware manufacturer’s site and browse the “disks” section to find -even still considering a single manufacturer!- an extremely wide device offering that goes well beyond the combination of SSD and traditional disks, and consumer or server/Enterprise tier product.

With that in mind, the simple distinction between Sata and Sas connections is not enough to justify the large variety. Models can differ both internally and from a connection perspective, as well from a usage perspective.

Let’s start to make a few distinctions by concentrating on 3,5” traditional disks with 7.200rpm speed. We can clearly identify at least 4 disk topologies:

  1. SATA Consumer (ad esempio Seagate Desktop HDD, WD Blue, WD Green), 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, use

  2. SATA uso NAS (Seagate NAS HDD, WD Red) 24h use but limited data transfer

  3. SATA uso NAS aziendale (Seagate Enterprise NAS HDD, WD Red Pro) 24h use with intensive data transfer

  4. SAS Enterprise (WD RE SAS) for server use

We’ve already simplified things a little bit in this list because several producers have introduced some variations and lots of different models. Moreover, if we take into account the server world too, then every manufacturer (HP, Dell, Lenovo, Fujitsu, etc..) has its models made perhaps by the aforementioned brands but with some modifications and adapted with some proprietary firmware.

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HP MSA 2040: an enterprise tier storage suitable also for SMBs

In the ever wider offering of Storage products, HP is certainly one of the most interesting players and its 3PAR StoreServ line offer a complete and advanced solution that allows to even realise an all-flash architecture.

In the SMB scene HP is however very consolidated with a range of products cheaper but not even less flexible, nonetheless. We are talking about the solutions called MSA which have reached the 4th generation, and, at the moment we are writing, are composed of 2 models: the cheaper MSA 1040 and the MSA 2040.

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VMware Virtual SAN 6.1 and hyperconvergent storage

Everybody is talking about Hyperconvergence and Software Defined Datacenter (SDDC), but what are the pros and cons of these architectures? We’ve tried for you the solution proposed by VMware for storage hyperconvergence: Virtual SAN 6.1, announced during the recent VMworld. Let’s take a look at its peaks and troughs.

The basic concept is quite simple: after spending so much money to make your infrastructure reliable, maybe with the purchase of 2 or more higher tier hosts, why can’t directly leverage them to manage storage too in a redundant way? Perhaps without spending several thousands of euros in additional dedicated storage? Behind this simple thought lies the core of the advantages brought by hyperconvergence in the storage sphere. Many solutions are available on the market, but VMware’s one has an hidden beauty: a system designed and developed by the very same people who designed the hypervisor.

Virtual SAN has been introduced with vSphere 5.5 and has been enhanced with vsphere 6.0. The recent 6.1 release, which is here reviewed, has been re-designed profoundly to enhance the performances and satisfy the needs displayed by the users of the previous releases.

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How to evaluate storage I/O, disks and SSD performances

You may be using a PC, a workstation or an high end server: knowing CPU, RAM and the other characteristics is not enough to understand the limits and the potentialities of your hardware. In most cases the performances will be determined by the storage, be it an hard disk or an SSD.

When switching from physical to virtual machines, where a low-mid tier server is running several VMs, I/O performances gets even more important. Having the ability to evaluate them is not granted at all, it can even get difficult. Surely, a quick copy of a file from a disk to another or the execution of a dd command on a Linux machine might give you and overlook and a blurry idea of the performances, but it is easy to make a mistake in the considerations, for example by not taking into account the presence of a cache on the controller or the host Operative System caching functions (vSphere, Hyper-V and any other hypervisor) or the guest’s. Often only the sequencial writing/reading speed is evaluated, no clues about the storage bahaviour in terms of number of I/O operations per second are held.

In order to help you to understand how to evaluate those performances we will illustrate out testing methodology as far as hard disks and SSDs are concerned.

The tests that we are about to deal with can be used in other situations and they focus on the intrinsic disks performances as well as their endurance through time and their behaviour with typical work loads like Web Server, File Server or Database, so that you can obtain a concrete preview of the results that will be obtain in practice.

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Neutron XT: Corsair goes pro

A single SSD dedicated to higher tiers PCs and workstation with an eye on the server and datacenter sphere.

In the last years the incredible tecnical evolution has brought the SSD market to a stalemate on a performance side, in the meantime the price of a single Gigabyte sharply lowers.

If the speed peaks obtained in the desktop environment are consolidated, on the other hand there is still space for big improvements in server and datacenter environments where, beside data transfer speed, parameters such as number of IO writings and performance consistency count.
SATA 3 or SAS 6 Gbps disks offer mean sequencial writing and reading speeds close to 550Mb/s but with largely variable results in terms of parallelisms between operations and their temporal duration. Disks that offer large sequencial transferring speeds may be of use on desktop systems or systems that leverage their main utilization on the writing and reading of large dimension files, but in some contexts something different might be necessary.

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