25 May 2010

Violin's Flash Sonata

As regular readers are aware, since the inception of this endeavor, I've held to the position that the maximum benefit to databased applications comes from using SSD storage as the sole storage medium (not necessarily for backup). And you will have noted that I've been less than thrilled over the last half year or so to see both storage vendors (the EMC's of this world) and SSD "enterprise" vendors (the STEC's) segue into "tier-0" storage mode.

Even if it worked, tier-0 doesn't make much sense to me. If you want to cache HDD, just use gobs of DRAM (or SRAM if you want real speed and persistence). With DRAM, you'll get consistent IOPS on read and write without all the hassle. And so on. What the tier-0 folks haven't addressed (that I've seen, anyway) is the question: what is the point in having two persistent datastores on-line? Just use DRAM cache.

Now, Violin has thrown down another gauntlet ( here is Violin's release). We don't need no stinkin' tier-0.

The money quote from the Register article:
"The challenge to HDD array vendors who currently see flash as just a tier-0 data container and not a container for all primary data is getting stronger and stronger on an almost daily basis."

This is a effort behind which I can get. Violin doesn't refer to the device as an SSD, or array of same. It's just a persistent datastore implemented in flash. I won't be getting one to test BCNF databases; a tad outside my price range. But the point of view is refreshing. The various analysts quoted both in The Register and the Violin PR miss the database structure implication; I'll be emailing them. I'll let you know what, if anything, I get back.

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