The demarcation between consumer and enterprise SSDs is becoming a blurry line in some cases. The cloud computing market is growing quickly, and SSDs afford performance advantages in both performance and power consumption metrics. It is predicted that the Internet, and the servers powering it, consume 1.5% of the global power output.
This may not seem like a large number, until we take into consideration that this is roughly the output of 30 nuclear power plants, or 30 billion Watts, and leads to a whopping power bill of $8.5 billion annually. SSDs bring tremendous advancements in the IOPS produced per Watt of energy consumed, and in many cases, this is one of the driving factors in the decision to deploy them into an enterprise environment.
As with any device that delivers a substantial performance advantage over a commodity product, SSDs command a much higher price than their HDD counterparts do. The performance advantages of SSDs, in addition to their enhanced density, lower power requirements, and other factors combine to make them a cheaper long-term solution than HDD storage. While the lowered TCO is a big magnet drawing prospective buyers into considering SSDs, the up-front expenditure is also the largest inhibitor to deploying SSDs into the datacenter.
This pricing double-edged sword leads many to look for value-oriented solutions. This eventually turns the eye to consumer SSDs and their lower price structure. For those unaware of the differences the learning curve can be steep and come at a high cost. Users are typically aware that client (consumer) SSDs feature a lower endurance threshold than enterprise products. When comparing the price and performance of consumer SSDs, many mistakenly think that they can overcome the high price premium of enterprise SSDs simply by replacing cheaper consumer SSD more often (rip-and-replace).
Unfortunately, many users simply look at the specifications of client hardware and immediately think that these radically high specifications will equate to a high level of performance in heavy usage enterprise scenarios, when in fact this could not be further from the truth.
Intoxicating performance specifications for client hardware lead many to make the jump without considering the significant impact that differing hardware specifications can have upon the real performance in an actual deployment. Client SSDs higher performance specifications are not indicative of long-term sustained performance in typical enterprise usage scenarios. We take a deeper look at the different test methodologies on the following page.
There are several key differentiators between client and enterprise SSDs, with performance, consistency, power efficiency, duty cycles, power loss protection, and data protection features chief amongst them. This is a daunting list, and by no means will we cover all of these facets in today's article.
The focus today is relatively simple: performance variability and latency. Deploying an SSD that does not deliver sustainable performance over the long term can end up significantly affecting TCO. Making significant tradeoffs in endurance to realize a cost saving is a risky gamble with data, but doing so at the expense of overall performance removes the initial motivation of utilizing an SSD to address performance challenges.