Data Center Tech Blog

New decisions made easy, even if you've made poor ones in the past. Get to know the least disruptive way to leverage flash acceleration, with the Flash Virtualization System.

One of the simplest pieces of advice I’ve received is to “make good decisions” in life. It seems easy enough – just do what’s “right” or “smart.” Yet In practice, it’s not always that simple. There may not be any “good” choices available to us, our judgement may be compromised by emotion, and often the full ramifications won’t be known to us for weeks, months, or even years.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to delve into why we make the decisions we make – there’s plenty of self-help books and TED Talks for that (like this one) – but the impact of past decisions on future decisions introduces an interesting dynamic for many of the customers we work with.

The Data Center is Built from Decisions

Most customers I’ve spoken with are facing decisions that affect one of two (sometimes both) areas:

  • Solve a technical or business challenge.
  • Achieve a goal, an objective, or execute a strategy.

While there are other considerations (like budget, staffing, technology expertise, existing infrastructure and operating procedures, risk tolerance of management, etc.), it usually starts and ends at one of those two points: there is a problem to solve or a goal to achieve.

New Flash Math: When Time is Money, Speed is More Money

For those trying to solve a problem or achieve a goal, performance usually plays a critical role, since they want to do more, do it faster, do it with less, and do it reliably. Flash is capable of delivering in all these areas, but many may not know flash can also “do it much cheaper.” If you’re not familiar with the “new math”:

  1. Fewer servers: When applications perform faster and more consistently, it’s possible to get more productivity from the servers and storage supporting those applications, meaning fewer servers are needed.
  2. Less licenses: Reducing server count saves money on hardware, but significantly more on the application software licenses that would run on those servers.
  3. Smaller footprint: Reducing server and storage requirements reduces the data center footprint, leading to savings in power, cooling, and even personnel to maintain and manage infrastructure.
  4. Simplified management: IT and application personnel will no longer need to spend time triaging performance issues or tweaking applications to compensate for the shortcomings of inferior storage infrastructure.
Business success is measured beyond the cost per gigabyte

Business success is measured beyond the cost per gigabyte

Whether looking to solve an IT problem or achieve a business goal, the decision on how to design or improve storage infrastructure will have many factors to consider. Flash performance can deliver cost saving possibilities, but there are challenges that come along with it if you need to replace existing infrastructure, introduce new management tools, or end up using flash inefficiently for data-at-rest.

If a solution were available that didn’t require these concessions, it would make for an easier decision…

The Flash Virtualization® System: Strive for Greatness, Without Breaking the Bank (or Your Infrastructure)

For those operating a SAN with VMware vSphere® as the hypervisor and want to continue benefiting from their existing storage investment, but still need to solve a performance problem or achieve a strategic IT goal, SanDisk® now offers the Flash Virtualization System to make that decision easier.

The Flash Virtualization System extends the benefits of FlashSoft® Software for VMware vSphere (info on FlashSoft here and here) to an infrastructure system model. This is the least disruptive way to introduce flash acceleration into existing SAN environments. Installed as a separate flash server in the network, the flash capacity of the Flash Virtualization System can be assigned across the cluster to different host servers, delivering flash performance to multiple virtualized applications – even business critical applications like Microsoft® SQL Server®, Sharepoint®, or Exchange® – without requiring changes to the applications or the existing server or storage infrastructure.


Making Good Decisions Now, Even if you’ve Made Poor Ones in the Past

Consider a cluster of blade servers that do not have available real estate to add even a single SSD to be used as an intelligent cache by FlashSoft software. IT can now install the Flash Virtualization System and assign flash cache capacity to the individual host blade servers. Problem solved; good decision!

Another consideration is companies, or even governments, that eliminate data center expansion in an effort to reduce costs and improve efficiency. With the Flash Virtualization System, it’s possible to install a single piece of flash server hardware that could accelerate dozens of existing host servers and applications without expanding data center footprint.

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Why It Matters

In 2010 Taneja Group published a report stating, “A VM density advantage of 1.5:1 can yield a cost of acquisition savings of up to 29% for a typical virtual infrastructure.”1 That analysis held true even this year when SanDisk partnered with DB Best to run a comparison for virtualized SQL Server consolidation. That study showed a similar savings relationship, with a 3:1 VM density advantage yielding a 65% savings.

FlashSoft software has shown to support VM density improvements of 3x-5x for workloads like SQL Server, so deploying FlashSoft at the infrastructure level as part of the Flash Virtualization System can lead to tremendous infrastructure and software licensing savings considering software costs are one of the largest data center cost components.

Results like this makes for an easy decision, and we haven’t even mentioned that it’s VMware Ready™certified for VMware vSphere 6 (did I mention SanDisk is VMware’s design partner for the VAIO caching API?), is managed within VMware vCenter™ so there are no management tools to learn, and has an intelligent caching algorithm that requires no manual tuning to achieve continued performance acceleration.

New Decisions Made Easy

Facing new decisions on how to solve a problem or achieve a goal doesn’t need to be that complicated, and many times it just takes understanding what options – especially good options – are available to you to choose from. The Flash Virtualization System solution brief and performance whitepaper are available for more details, and if you’d like to learn more, please attend our webinar, “Building a Better Virtualized Environment with Flash,” on August 18th at 11:00 am PT, or on demand after the broadcast. It’s free to attend and stream so register here!

About the author: Jason Pederson is responsible for Virtualization Solutions and watches a TED Talk on procrastination every morning to postpone the start of the work day.

1Taneja Group; Hypervisor Shootout: Maximizing Workload Density in the Virtualization Platform; August 2010

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