Advantages of True Enterprise Solid State Drives (SSDs) in Enterprise Systems

What is the difference between an enterprise and consumer class SSD

It is now well recognized that SSD’s are capable of delivering blistering IOPS (Input/output Operations Per Second) performance versus traditional rotating disk drives in server and storage applications. This enormous gap in capability requires that different metrics need to be used to determine the affordability of SSD. HDD (Hard Disk Drive) systems historically used the price per gigabyte. However, the value proposition for SSD’s is now measured in the price per IOPS. This price per IOPS approach can translate to significant cost savings over traditional rotating media when measuring the speed of results or access to data while typically reducing the number of drives needed to be deployed in order to hit a performance target and therefore saving significant amount of power.

Similar to the HDD world, there are different SSDs that are appropriate for different usages. A consumer would generally never consider using an enterprise designed Fibre Channel (FC) or Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) 15K RPM HDD for a laptop or desktop computer. Form, fit, power and cost considerations make it a poor match.

Enterprise server and storage users would likewise never consider a 5400 RPM mobile SATA HDD for use in a performance oriented, business critical application in the data center. Even though a mobile SATA HDD reads, writes and stores data the same way as any other 15K RPM drive, it doesn’t meet the enterprise’s needs.

This same reasoning can be applied to using a low cost, consumer SATA SSD in these same mission critical applications. Even low cost SATA SSDs are faster than HDDs. But they are not as capable as a true enterprise class SSD. They store data the same way as the other SAS or FC SSDs, so why not use it and save some money…?

The answers are the same as HDD considerations. Data centers don’t use the 5400 RPM mobile drives for several critical reasons; trust, reliability, life expectancy, data retention, redundancy and performance.

Under the same considerations, consumer-grade SATA SSDs designed for consumer applications lack the critical ‘designed for enterprise’ capabilities that are necessary for today’s data centers. Key to these designed for enterprise features include dual porting, end-to-end data integrity inside the drive to protect data on the fly, rigorous specification and testing of all components, interface compatibility and technologies that work in the enterprise systems (rather than having to adapt the enterprise infrastructure to support the drive).

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