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Nexsan Storage System Experts Unwrap Guide for Selecting SSD

Separate Drive Selection Hype from Reality

Nexsan, an independent provider of disk-based storage systems, today announced a new downloadable paper titled "6 Tips for Selecting HDD and SSD Drives." The free educational resource provides guidance on selecting the most appropriate hard disk drive (HDD) or solid state disk drive (SSD) technology when configuring a storage system for business applications. Access the new paper at http://www.nexsan.com/library/featured.aspx.

There are a number of factors to be considered when selecting drives for a storage environment. These include the level of sequential or random access performance needed, storage density, reliability and cost. With today's wide variety of storage devices, many IT professionals are challenged with the multitudes of drive technologies. This is especially true when selecting the appropriate drives for various data types. Adding to the confusion is that SATA and SAS refer to disk drive interfaces, whereas SSD refers to a particular kind of internal technology. Selecting a drive technology and interface type can seem complex with considerations of random access performance, sequential performance, cost, density and reliability, but is manageable with the right guidance.

With more than 28,000 storage systems in the field accounting for hundreds of thousands of drives shipped, the storage system experts at Nexsan have significant experience in determining the best and most reliable hard disk and solid state drives for specific applications. According to the company, by observing the following tips on drive selection, confusion over drive choice can be significantly reduced:

1.     Do not confuse disk interface type with performance or reliability. Historically, Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) and Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) were used as convenient shorthand for fast or dense disk drives, respectively. Now, however, there are SSD drives with SATA interfaces as well as inexpensive and dense but relatively low-IOPS 7200 RPM drives with SAS or even Fibre Channel interfaces.

2.     Achieve the best price/GB with 3.5" 7200 RPM SATA drives. Storage vendors have a seemingly endless variety of pricing models, but one constant seems to be that 2.5" systems cost twice as much per gigabyte as 3.5" systems, assuming both are using "enterprise-grade" drives. But as noted previously, a 3.5" drive will be far more reliable.

3.     Understand that HDD performance is mostly dictated by density and mechanical speed. The random or transactional (IOPS) performance of spinning drives is dominated by the access time, which in turn, is determined by rotational latency and seek time. Interface performance has almost no impact on IOPS. Additionally, interface speed has no measurable impact on sustained performance.

4.     Consider SSD drives instead of 10K or 15K drives for transactional workloads. Today it is very likely that an all-SSD storage solution will have lower overall capital and operational cost than one made from 15,000 RPM drives due to the reduction in total slots required to achieve a given transaction performance. Additionally, SSDs have a greatly reduced power footprint compared to spinning drives for a given number of transactions.

5.     When building systems with high sequential performance for applications such as video, 3TB 7200 RPM SATA drives are better than SSD or 10K/15K drives. Somewhat surprisingly, neither SSDs nor 10,000/15,000 RPM disk drives are better for video and other streaming media applications than 7200 RPM SATA drives, unless there are numerous independent streams being written or read from the same RAID set.

6.     Pay close attention to how much your storage system supplier treats the subject of disk drives. In the spirit of chasing profits, many storage system vendors are moving to a logistics model where drives are not tested in the storage array until it arrives at the customer site. Some no longer perform specific qualification checks between drive hardware and firmware revisions, and the hardware and firmware revisions of all the components of the storage array. This can result in less than stellar outcomes from the start.

"Hardware matters, and organizations intent on maintaining a robust storage environment should not underestimate the importance of optimizing storage infrastructure with quality hardware components and technology that is aligned with the operating environment," said Arun Taneja, Founder and Consulting Analyst, Taneja Group. "While technologies have matured to the point where hard drive downtime does not impact business continuity, missteps in drive selection can wreak havoc on operational performance and result in ongoing maintenance issues. We applaud Nexsan's focus on educating the market in this often overlooked area."

"Correct drive choice plays a major role in the overall reliability and performance of a storage system," said Gary Watson, CTO, Nexsan. "At Nexsan, our processes ensure that only drive models performing well in exhaustive engineering trials and testing are delivered to the customer. Equally important, Nexsan's partner ecosystem works with end users to match drives to their intended application, ensuring our systems perform optimally in any business environment."

About Nexsan
Nexsan® is a leading independent provider of disk-based storage systems purpose-built and priced for the mid-market, offering industry-leading reliability, space and power efficiency. Nexsan storage systems provide scalability, integrity and security for growing volumes of unstructured data and are ideal for virtual storage, data protection, secure online archiving, bulk and cloud storage applications. Overcoming the challenges of traditional storage, Nexsan delivers a different kind of storage experience with easy-to-use, efficient and enterprise-class solutions that reduce the complexity and cost of storage. Nexsan delivers its storage systems through a select global partner ecosystem of solution providers, OEMs and system integrators. Nexsan is based in Thousand Oaks, Calif. For more information, visit the company's website at www.nexsan.com.

More Stories By Joe Austin

Joe Austin is Vice President, Client Relations, at Ventana Public Relations. He joined Ventana PR in 2006 with more than 14 years experience in high-tech strategic communications. His media relations experience spans both broadcast and print, and he maintains longstanding relationships with editors and reporters at business, IT, channel, and vertical publications. Austin's relationship with the media includes marquee outlets including CNN, BusinessWeek, USA Today, Bloomberg, and the Associated Press for clients ranging from startups to billion-dollar enterprises. Experience includes working with Maxell, McDATA (Acquired by Brocade), Center for Internet Security, Securent (Acquired by Cisco), Intrepidus Group/PhishMe, FireEye, Mimosa Systems, Xiotech, MOLI.com, EMC/Rainfinity, Spinnaker Networks (Acquired by NetApp), ONStor, Nexsan, Asigra, Avamar (Acquired by EMC), BakBone Software, Dot Hill, SANRAD, Open-E and others. With more than a decade of strategic planning, media tours, press conferences, and media/analyst relations for companies in the data storage, security, server virtualization, IT outsourcing and networking arenas, Austin's domain expertise assists in positioning clients for leadership. Austin was recently recognized as a “Top Tech Communicator” for the second year in a row by PRSourceCode. The editorial community – represented by more than 300 participating IT journalists – rated each winner based on best overall performance and recognized those who added the most value to their editorial processes in terms of responsiveness, reliability, and overall understanding of editorial needs.

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