At its core, the RamSan-630 combines the high speed of flash memory with high bandwidth connectivity. Each justifies the other. The RamSan-630 allows for all 10 8Gb FC ports to be active simultaneously, leading to the 8GB/s of bandwidth production. In a typical Oracle RAC configuration up to five nodes can be connected with active-active redundancy. This provides the application cluster with path redundancy and full access to performance. The RamSan-630’s 10TB of capacity means - in most cases - the entire database can be moved to dedicated solid state storage, removing much of the storage management burden and eliminating concerns about cache misses. It may also mean that application server RAM can be reduced to further save costs.

While it is possible to create this kind of performance in a mechanical hard drive based storage system, the cost to assemble, let alone manage that type of an array would be daunting. A mechanical storage system would require shelves and shelves of high speed, half formatted drives. The comparison in space and power consumption of a data center row full of mechanical drives is almost embarrassing compared to the RamSan-630’s 3U 500 Watt requirement. In short, flash based solutions like the RamSan-630 are likely the most cost effective way to deliver 800k IOPS and 8GB/s of bandwidth to the enterprise.

Availability is of course critical in these environments and the RamSan-630, being based on flash memory, will not lose data if there is a power outage. However, for higher levels of availability the units can be mirrored. Alternatively, costs can be curtailed by leveraging Operating System/Application availability capabilities to mirror to less expensive media. For example, Oracle’s Automatic Storage Management (ASM) now has a preferred read mirroring capability. As we discussed in our article “Integrating SSD and Maintaining Disaster Recovery”, preferred read mirrors allow for the use of high speed SSD alongside disk to maintain disaster recovery process integrity without taking the performance penalty from behind the storage. All data protection functions like snapshots, replications, and backups are performed on the mechanical storage system outside of the critical performance datapath. This allows the SSD to focus on delivering unmatched performance.

Leveraging fibre channel is critical in the enterprise. It allows for a high speed storage architecture to be created without switching to a new connectivity technology like InfiniBand. While InfinbiBand, also available on the RamSan-630, is gaining traction in the High Performance Computing (HPC) market it is more difficult to bring the technology into fibre-rich environments like the more traditional mainstream enterprise. InfiniBand also supports fewer host attaching platform types or operating systems. 8Gb fibre channel has a wide range of host attached support and 8Gb switches are now commonly available at near price parity to 4Gb FC switches.

Using FC brings connectivity flexibility to the application cluster. Typical storage area networks (SAN) have struggled to deliver adequate and consistent performance when a small group of servers are responsible for 90% or greater of the performance requirement. As stated earlier, 3 to 5 application nodes could attach directly to the RamSan-630 or connected to the RamSan-630 through the traditional switch infrastructure. The most common deployment is a standalone 8Gb FC switch pair that can handle and isolate the performance and bandwidth load of the application cluster and still connect back into the main storage core so that data can be accessed by backup or replication processes.

Storage Switzerland’s Take

Database applications that run on Oracle RAC are often being placed on that platform in order to scale out performance. In most cases, slow response time of the application limits a revenue generating capability of the business and the response time challenge is typically storage related. The solid state storage device itself is half the answer, the other half is getting that data from the solid state storage device to the application environment as fast as possible. However, most enterprises won’t or can’t go to the extreme of implementing an entirely new connectivity option like InfiniBand. A 10 port active-active 8Gb FC system like the RamSan-630 may be the ideal alternative. It can deliver a shared 800,000 IOPS capability with only minor changes to the existing infrastructure, presenting the perfect storm for both application owners and storage managers.

George Crump, Senior Analyst

News Analysis

Texas Memory is a client of Storage Switzerland

Texas Memory Announces 8Gb FC

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