I confess that I have never been one to embrace new technology right away. I want to make sure something has usefulness to me. (Does it solve a problem or provide new capabilities?). Can I afford it? (Does it come at a reasonable price?). And, does it deliver quality? (Does it do what it is supposed to do? Does it operate reliably? Does it have a long product life?)
From a consumer electronics standpoint, my measuring stick has been my older brother. If he finally decided to invest in a new product; be it iPod, blue ray, or Kindle, then I knew it had passed muster in all of the dimensions that were important to me and I could invest without hesitation.
Which brings me to the subject of solid state disk drives. Certainly the solution has been around for some time, many years in fact. However, it was specialized and limited only to the applications that were willing to pay a substantial premium for the increased performance delivered by the memory (and don’t forget all of the supporting aspects designed to protect the volatile memory from failure and associated data loss).
Just in the last few years, solid state disk technology has undergone a dramatic transformation. With the advent of non-volatile memory (the same type that’s in my brother-recommended iPod) the price for the new drives has dropped sharply, helped by economies of scale while delivering equal or better performance than their predecessors.
But that still doesn’t answer the question of quality. Do these operate reliably? Do they have a long product life? How mature is the design? What is the difference between multi-level cell (MLC) and single level cell (SLC)? And most important, what is their track record in mission-critical environments?
If only I had an older brother for new information technology products.
As it turns out, I do. Enterprise solid state disks are now available on fault-tolerant Intel-based servers that run the most demanding applications in the world. Be it high-volume stock transaction or payment-processing applications, rugged military deployments, or emergency 911 dispatch systems that lives depend on, these systems deliver near 100% uptime anytime, anywhere. The solid state disks deliver the same blazing fast performance and lower TCO, but also the backing of a company whose only mission is to provide the best uptime assurance in the industry.
If solid state disks are good enough to boost performance of fault-tolerant servers, then I’m convinced they are ready for prime time.