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2011

This is the fourth in a series of posts (others are here, here and here) that I have been doing for over a year now taking a moment now and then to share some of my experiences with using hybrid hard disk drives (HHDD) along side my hard disk drives (HDD) and solid state drives (SSD).

 

It has been  a several months now since applying the latest firmware (SD25) which resulted in even better stability that was further enhanced when upgrading a few months ago to Windows 7 on all systems with the Seagate Momentus XT HHDD installed in them. One additional older system was recently upgraded from a slower, lower capacity 3.5 inch form factor SATA HDD to a physically smaller 2.5 inch HHDD. The net result is that system now boots in a fraction of the time, shuts down faster, work on it is much more productive and capacity was increased by three and half times.

 

Why use an HHDD when you could get an SSD?

With flash SSD devices continuing to become more affordable for a given price capacity point, why did I not simply install some of those devices instead of using the HHDDs?

 

With the money saved from buying the 500GB Momentus XT on Amazon.com (under $100 USD) vs. buying a smaller capacity SSD, I was also able to double the amount of DRAM in that system furthering its useful life plus buying some time to decide what to replace it with while having extra funds for other projects.

 

Sure I would like to have more and larger capacity SSDs to go along with those I already have, however there is balancing budget with needs and improving productivity (needs vs. wants).

 

To expand more on why the HHDD at this time vs. SSD,  want some more SSD devices to coexist with those I already have and use for different functions. Looking to stretch my budget further, the HHDDs are a great balance of being almost and in some cases as fast as SSDs while at the cost of a high capacity HDD. In other words Im getting the best of both worlds which is a 7,200 RPM 2.5 inch 500GB HDD (e.g. for space capacity) that has 4GB of single layer cell (SLC) flash (e.g. SSD) and 32MB of DRAM as buffers (for read and write performance) to help speed up read and write operations.

 

Given for what Im using them for, I do not need the consistent higher performance of an SSD across all of my data which brings up the other benefit, Im able to retain more data on the device as a buffer or cache instead of having to go to a NAS or other storage repository to get it. Even though the amount of data being stored on the HHDD is increasing, not all of it gets backed up locally or to my cloud provider as there is already a copy(s) elsewhere. Instead, a small subset of data that is changing or very important gets routinely protected locally and remotely to the cloud enabling easier and faster restores when needed. Now if you have a large budget or someone is willing to buy or give you one, sure, go ahead and get one of the high capacity SSDs (preferably SLC based if concerned about endurance) however there are some good MLC ones out there as well.

 

Step back a bit, what is an HHDD?

Hybrid hard disk drives (HHDDs) such as the Seagate Momentus XT are, as their name implies,  a combination of large- to medium-capacity HDDs with FLASH SSDs. The result is  a mix of performance and capacity in a cost effective footprint. HHDDs have not  seen much penetration in the enterprise space and may not see much more, given  how many vendors are investing in the firmware and associated software  technology to achieve hybrid results using a mix of SSDs and high capacity disk  drives along with the lack of awarness that they exist.

 

A Hybrid Hard Disk Drive and other components

 

Where HHDDs could have some additional traction is in secondary or near-line  solutions that need some performance enhancements while having a large amount  of capacity in a cost-effective footprint. For now, HHDDs are appearing mainly  in desktops, laptops, and workstations that need lots of capacity with some  performance but without the high price of SSDs. Before I installed the HHDDs in my laptops, I initially  used one as a backup and data movement device, and I found that large, gigabyte-sized  files could be transferred as fast as with SSDs and much faster than via my  WiFi based network and NAS. The easiest way to characterize where HHDDs fit is  where you want an SSD for performance, but your applications do not always need  speed and you need a large amount of storage capacity at an affordable price.

 

SSDs are part of the future, however HDDs have a lot of life in them including increased capacities, both are best used where their strengths can be maximized, thus HHDDs are a great compliment or stepping stone for some applications. Note, Seagate recently announced that they have shipped over one million HHDDs in just over a years time.

 

I do find it interesting though when I hear from those who claim that the HDD is dead and that SSD is the future yet they do not have SSDs in their systems let alone do they have or talk about HHDDs, hmmmm.

 

Ok, nuff said for now.

 

Cheers gs

Following up from a previous preview post about my new book Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press) for those for those attending VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas Monday August 29 through Thursday September 1st 2011, you can pick up your copy at the VMworld book store.

 

Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking Book

 

 

Book signing at VMworld 2011

On Tuesday August 30 at 1PM local time, I will be at the VMworld store signing books. Stop by the book store and say hello, pickup your copy of Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press). Also check out the other new releases by fellow vExpert authors during the event. I have also heard rumors that some exhibitors among others will be doing drawings, so keep an eye out in the expo hall and go visit those showing copies of my new book.

 

The VMworld book store hours are:

Monday 8:30am to 7:30pm
Tuesday 8:30am to 6:00pm
Wednesday 8:30am to 8:00pm
Thursday 8:00am to 2:00pm

 

For those not attending VMworld 2011, you can order your copy from different venues including Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, DigitalGuru and CRC Press among others.

 

Learn more about Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press) at http://storageio.com/book3.html

 

Look forward to seeing you at the various VMworld events in Las Vegas as well as at other upcoming venues.

 

Ok, nuff said for now.

 

Cheers gs

Here is a link to a recent guest post that I was invited to do over at  The Virtualization Practice (TVP) pertaining to measuring the impact of Windows Boot performance and what that means for planning for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) initiatives.

 

With Virtual Desktop Infrastructures  (VDI) initiatives adoption being a popular theme associated with cloud  and dynamic infrastructure environments a related discussion point is the  impact on networks, servers and storage during boot or startup activity to avoid  bottlenecks. VDI solution vendors include Citrix, Microsoft and  VMware along with various server, storage, networking and management  tools vendors.

 

A common storage and network related topic involving VDI are  boot storms when many workstations or desktops all startup at the same time.  However any discussion around VDI and its impact on networks, servers and  storage should also be expanded from read centric boots to write intensive  shutdown or maintenance activity as well.

 

Having an understanding of what your performance requirements are is important to adequately design a configuration that will meet your Quality of Service (QoS) and service level objectives (SLOs) for VDI deployment in addition to knowing what to look for in candidate server, storage and networking technologies. For example, knowing how your different desktop applications and workloads perform on a normal basis provides a baseline to compare with during busy periods or times of trouble. Another benefit is that when shopping for example storage systems and reviewing various benchmarks, knowing what your actual performance and application characteristics are helps to align the applicable technology to your QoS and SLO needs while avoiding apples to oranges benchmark comparisons.

 

Check out the entire piece including some test results using the hIOmon tool from hyperIO to gather actual workstation performance numbers.

 

Keep in mind that the best benchmark is your actual applications running as close to possible to their typical workload and usage scenarios.

Also keep in mind that fast workstations need fast networks, fast servers and fast storage.

 

Ok, nuff said for now.

 

Cheers gs

Lets face it, people and information are living longer and thus there are more of each along with a strong interdependency by both.

 

People living and data being retained longer should not be a surprise, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. There is no such thing as an information recession with more data being generated, processed, moved and stored for longer periods of time not to mention that a data object is also getting larger.

 

Industry trend and performance

 

By data objects getting larger, think about a digital photo taken on a typical camera ten years ago which whose resolution was lower and thus its file size would have been measured in kilo bytes (thousands). Today megapixel resolutions are common from cell phones, smart phones, PDAs and even larger with more robust digital and high definition (HD) still and video cameras. This means that a photo of the same object that resulted in a file of hundreds of Kbytes ten years ago would be measured in Megabytes today. With three dimensional (3D) cameras appearing along with higher resolution, you do not need to be a rocket scientist or industry pundit to figure out what that growth trend trajectory looks like.

 

More people exist today than in the past

 

However it is not just the size of the data that is getting larger, there are also more instances along with copies of those files, photos, videos and other objects being created, stored and retained. Similar to data, there are more people now than ten years ago and some of those have also grown larger, or at least around the waistline. This means that more people are creating and relying on larger amounts of information being available or accessible when and where needed. As people grow older, the amount of data that they generate will naturally increase as will the information that they consume and rely upon.

 

Where things get interesting is that looking back in history, that is more than ten or even a hundred years, the trend is that there are more people, they are living longer, and they are generating larger amounts of data that is taking on new value or meaning. Heck you can even go back from hundreds to thousands of years and see early forms of data archiving and storage with drawings on walls of caves or other venues. I Wonder if had the cost (and ease of use) to store and keep data had been lower back than would there have been more information saved? Or was it a case of being too difficult to use the then state of art data and information storage medium combined with limited capacities so they simply ran out of storage and retention mediums (e.g. walls and ceilings)?

 

Cave drawings by maggie

 

Lets come back to the current for a moment which is another trend of data that in the past would have been kept offline or best case near line due to cost and limits or constraints are finding their way online either in public or private venues (or clouds if you prefer).

 

Thus the trend of expanding data life cycles with some types of data being kept online or readily accessible as its value is discovered.

 

Evolving data life cycle and access patterns

 

Here is an easy test, think of something that you may have googled or searched for a year or two ago that either could not be found or was very difficult to find. Now take that same search or topic query and see if anything appears and if it does, how many instances of it appear. Now make a note to do the same test again in a year or even six months and compare the results.

 

Now back to the future however with an eye to the past and things get even more interesting in that some researchers are saying that in centuries to come, we should expect to see more people not only living into their hundreds, however even longer. This follows the trend of the average life expectancy of people continues to increase over decades and centuries.

 

What if people start to live hundreds of years or even longer, what about the information they will generate and rely upon and its later life cycle or span?

 

More information and data

 

Here is a link to a post where a researcher sees that very far down the road, people could live to be a thousand years old which brings up the question, what about all the data they generate and rely upon during their lifetime.

 

Ok, now back to the 21st century and it is safe to say that there will be more data and information to process, move, store and keep for longer periods of time in a cost effective way. This means applying data footprint reduction (DFR) such as archiving, backup and data protection modernization, compression, consolidation where possible, dedupe and data management including deletion where applicable along with other techniques and technologies combined with best practices.

 

Will you out live your data, or will your data survive you?

 

These are among other things to ponder while you enjoy your summer (northern hemisphere) vacation sitting on a beach or pool side enjoying a cool beverage perhaps gazing at the passing clouds reflecting on all things great and small.

 

Clouds: Dont be scared, however look before you leap and be prepared

 

Ok, nuff said for now.

 

Cheers gs

Have you heard of 2DRS as a data storage technology?

 

If not, dont worry, you would probably be in a minority if you said yes.

 

Anyway, Phil White of ECCTek has sent lots of material about 2DRS (2 dimensional error correction code: ECC) over the past few months.

 

In a nutshell, if you have an interest in data integrity, low level data storage topics, RAID, SSD or HDDs, you may want to have a look. I have no affiliation with Phil, ECCtek or 2DRS, nor can I vouch for what ECCtek is doing. However as he has been persistent (in a polite way), time to share some info and you can decide what to do with it.

 

The following is from Phil:

 

 

Hello,

You may be able to start a project to develop a 2D-RS product in your company.

You may be able to write and publish an article promoting the 2D-RS ideas.

You may be able to send me e-mail addresses of others who may be interested in the 2D-RS ideas.

You could forward this e-mail to others who may be interested in the 2D-RS ideas.

I am asking you to please take the time you need to read the web pages at the end of this e-mail, and please think seriously about the ideas and ask questions if something is unclear.

After you have read the web pages and thought about the ideas, I am asking that you please do one or more of the following things…

Start a project to develop a 2D-RS product in your company.
Write and publish an article to promote the 2D-RS ideas.
Send me e-mail addresses of others who may be interested in the 2D-RS ideas.
Forward this e-mail to others.

Regards,

Phil White
President
ECC Technologies, Inc. (ECC Tek)
4750 Coventry Road East
Minnetonka, MN 55345-3909
Phone: 952-935-2885
Fax:   952-935-2491
www.ecctek.com

Web Pages
ECC Teks Web Site
ECC Tek Company Profile
PRS Patent

2D ECC Concepts
2D RS HDDs
2D RS HDD Products
2D RS SSDs
2D RS Storage Systems
2D RS Comments
2D RS A
2D RS Believers

Basic ECC Concepts
Finite Fields, RS Codes and RS RAID
Finite Fields with 4bit Elements

 

 

I will leave it up to you if you want to check out what Phil has to say and if or where 2D may or may not be relevant.

 

Ok, nuff said for now.

 

Cheers gs

StorageIO News Letter Image Summer 2011 Newsletter

Welcome to the Summer 2011 edition of the Server and StorageIO Group (StorageIO) newsletter. This follows the Spring 2011 edition.

You can get access to this news letter via various social media venues (some are shown below) in addition to StorageIO web sites and subscriptions.

 

Click on the following links to view the Summer 2011 edition as an HTML or PDF or, to go to the newsletter page to view previous editions.

 

Enjoy this edition of the StorageIO newsletter, let me know your comments and feedback.

 

Nuff said for now

 

Cheers
Gs