An IDC Bulletin, "Solid State Disks: The Right Products for Boosting Performance in Tough Times -- Product and Market Analysis, 2001", released last month reports solid state disks (SSDs) are increasingly being accepted as a cost-effective solution for boosting application performance and removing I/O bottlenecks.
The Bulletin positions SSDs as a "smart choice" in tough times, and projects end users' commitment to solid state disks to increase.
"Too often, end users faced with performance issues or poor I/O response take the unnecessarily expensive `brute force' approach of simply adding more servers or more disk drives to spread the workload," asserts co-author Robert Gray. "While many users take one or both of these paths to scalability, IDC believes that many would be better served and benefit from a thorough performance analysis that includes a review of SSD capabilities."
Solid state disks are storage-centric architectural components where critical "hot files" are locked into a dedicated cache to ensure they are instantly available 100% of the time. In transaction-intensive database and OLTP applications, SSDs quickly eliminate I/O bottlenecks and improve system throughput, thereby reducing response times for end-users.
The IDC Bulletin notes several factors driving the market, including lower prices, applications increasingly unfriendly to rotating disk drives, and the growing gap between disk I/O performance and CPU MIPS performance. But the most important growth factor, the report concludes, is the emergence of the storage virtualization layer and virtualization products.
Storage Virtualization separates the logical representation of storage from the physical devices themselves. This division of physical storage from the logical storage space turns storage into a generally available utility pool, which is easily divided among multiple applications. By adding a solid state disk into this virtual storage pool, the acceleration capabilities of the SSD can be leveraged across all servers in the SAN, regardless of platform, operating system, or application type. The IDC Bulletin views virtualization as a large contributor to the growth potential and concludes by saying, "The SAN virtualization layer evolution and penetration is a powerful opportunity to have SSDs finally achieve their long-delayed potential."