Case Study: How Hybrid Storage Arrays Drive Efficiencies for OEMs

In my last post, I talked about some reasons why you, our OEM community, might want to consider adding storage to your solutions.  Today, let’s zoom in on a particular storage solution.

First – some context: Storage tiering is a feature found in many enterprise storage platforms.  Tiering can work in a few different ways, but basically it automates the movement of data on a storage array to ensure that the most heavily accessed data is on the best performing storage. Organizations like tiering because it means they buy less Tier 1 storage, and because it means their most heavily-accessed datasets land on their best-performing drives.

It’s pretty obvious why organizations with medium-to-large environments choose to implement tiering.  But for our OEM customers, how can you benefit from tiering if your dataset is small?  After all, you don’t have hundreds of workloads in one system; you have hundreds of customers, each with one or two workloads.

Enter the EqualLogic PS6100XS.  This is a slick solution for focused, tiered workloads, packed into just 2U of rack space.

The PS6100XS is a hybrid storage array.  In EqualLogic-speak, that means it has 24 drives, some of which are solid state (SSD) and some of which are traditional spinning media (SAS).  What’s special is that within this single array of drives, the EqualLogic firmware knows how to look at a volume and move busy parts to SSDs, while leaving the less-accessed parts on SAS drives.  This occurs without administrator intervention, and without any alterations to the applications.

You get 11TB of usable space, and as the space is used, any part of the volume is eligible to take advantage of SSD performance.  Data that becomes accessed less often can be moved off of SSD in favor of other data whose access requests have increased.  The system self-monitors throughout the day and adjusts data placement accordingly.

Think of it as the capacity of spinning drives combined with the speed of solid state.

Here at Dell Labs, we’ve identified two types of workloads that benefit easily from this type of tiering: virtual desktop and spiky OLTP databases.  (Those links go to blog posts on the test results from the last generation of hybrid arrays.)  It’s the latter that makes me think OEM – so many of you are creating platforms that run on SQL or MySQL, either of which can be ideal for this PS6100XS platform.

So, are you shipping a server or a few servers to each of your customers?  Instead of over-sizing the storage for performance, or worrying about the performance of the database, what about including a PS6100XS along with your solution?  You’d be ensuring that the database your technology relies on is optimally placed on the storage, even under changing circumstances.  You may be able to ship less equipment but support the same workload.  Your solution may scale to support more operations or more users than it does today.  All this without having to change anything about your application.

Might this solution work for you?  Let us know what you think in the comments.

Sheryl Koenigsberg

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