Many innovations are improving the performance and efficiencies of network storage, such as data tiering and deduplication, but none are as far-reaching as the emergence of solid-state drives (SSDs).SSDs deliver a leap forward as pronounced as the superiority of DVD/CD technology over video and audio cassettes. Until relatively recently, storage has been built exclusively around spinning disks. Spinning disks, however, are 20th century electro-mechanical technology that is very inefficient. Energy is required to spin the disks to thousands of rotations per minute and additional energy is required to remove the heat these devices then produce. Adding to their inefficiencies, administrators sometimes limit the area on each disk where data is stored—a process called short stroking—to extract maximum read/write performance for transaction-intensive applications. SSDs, however, avoid all the shortcomings of spinning disks.
They provide vastly superior read/write speeds, making them ideal for those transaction-intensive applications. Their integrated circuitry has no moving parts, which not only substantially reduces their energy consumption, but also makes them more durable and smaller than spinning disks. Indeed, SSDs are an enabling technology for the explosive popularity of today’s handheld devices like smart phones. For these reasons, SSDs are beginning to appear in storage appliances, disk arrays, and RAID solutions. Next generation RAID arrays, for example,can be provisioned with either spinning disks or SSDs for blazing I/O speeds. They alsohave the versatility to serve as NAS storage, IP or Fibre Channel SAN systems, or unified storage. SSD systems can accelerate such applications as data archives, backup storage, storage virtualization, video storage, and cloud storage. SSDs currently cost more per gigabyte than spinning disks, but as with the latter, their prices continue to drop as more businesses leverage their many advantages.