If you’ve met the FlashSoft team at VMworld or other major events, you may have had the pleasure of meeting the most popular member of our team, a little rack in a hardened case with a glowing logo. He’s really just a short rack with a couple of servers and a storage array, but to make him portable to events, he travels inside a tough shockproof case. At any event we typically meet a few people who want to learn more about the case than what’s inside, but we don’t mind his popularity.
Pretty early on, when we first assembled and configured the cube-shaped package for transport, we were trying to come up with a name for it, and somebody on the team, noticing how much the cube resembled the cube-shaped robot from the Pixar movie, began to call him “Wall-E.” And the name stuck.
We’re often asked why the software team brings all this hardware to a conference. Quite simply, it’s the most direct way to show one of the key advantages of server-side solid-state caching: to alleviate I/O overhead on storage systems, thereby delivering greater value and longer useful life to existing storage infrastructure investments. Wall-E is a data center in miniature.
Inside the box, Wall-E is made up of two servers running identical workloads, typically two to four VMs with some benchmark workloads and IOmeter. The two servers are identical except that one has a PCIe solid-state device attached and uses FlashSoft software to enable the SSD as a storage cache within the server. On the servers’ two monitors, it’s easy to compare the improvement in application performance, storage IOPS, and CPU utilization.
What’s just as important, and is a key reason to bring the servers and their storage array together in a single box, is the change in the behavior of the HDD storage supporting the two servers. The disks supporting the standard server are spinning constantly, and you can actually see the activity in the storage array. The disks that have been complemented by the SSD cache in the server are far less active. They do spin intermittently, but the activity is far lower than the storage lacking a server-side cache.
In a very small package, Wall-E demonstrates the huge impact that server-side caching with solid-state storage can have in the data center. With solid-state caching in the server, your storage infrastructure is used more efficiently, lasts longer, and delivers better performance to applications running in virtual machines. And the change to the server is minimal: just install the FlashSoft software and the solid-state device of your choice.
Wall-E is on his way home from Barcelona right now, where he was helping us out at VMworld Europe. His next stop is Las Vegas, Nevada, where he’ll be joining us for the Gartner Data Center conference in December. If you’re going to that event, please stop by and meet our most popular team member.