We’ve seen that these are still early days for solid-state and Flash adoption in enterprise storage, and people are still trying to figure out the best way to implement the technology. That leaves the door still open to new approaches.
One of those new approaches is that of Kaminario, which in mid-2010 came out of stealth with a DRAM-based solid state storage appliance that it claims can provide faster access to data in key applications. Kaminario also uses hard drives in its K2 appliances, which consist of blade servers with redundant hard drives, Fibre Channel switches and redundant UPS. Its KOS operating system controls load balancing of data across the DRAM of each Data Node, making the DRAM of the entire system look like a single high-speed disk to the application.
Now that K2 appliances have been on the market awhile, Kaminario has been identifying customers using them for a performance boost. One of them is Digital Trowel, an Israeli based Web data mining company that sifts through Internet records to find relevant data quickly for customers. Digital Trowel CTO Anton Bar said it took more than a week to crawl five billion database records for his customers, find errors and correct them with EMC Clarrion SAN arrays. Since adding a K2 appliance, he said it now takes three days to mine those records.
“The bottom line is, our identity resolution process was shortened by about 50 percent, and that’s very important in our line of business,” Bar said.
Bar said he considered several solid state approaches, including adding SSD drives to his EMC Clariion array, going to an all-flash SSD appliance and using Flash on PCIe cards. He tried SSDs in his array first, but said that didn’t give him the performance increase he needed. K2 appliances start at $50,000, and Bar said that was a bargain compared to other methods.
“In addition to simply shoving flash discs into our Clarion, which didn’t improve the throughput at all and was terribly expensive, we considered also the Texas Memory Systems RamSan products,” he said. “However, they had the same price, half of the storage space and lower speed [than K2] — a clear no-brainer. We also considered Fusion-io ioDrive Flash cards – but they weren’t fail proof. There was (no redundancy at all.”
The K2 appliance may not win out over other approaches in all cases, but it shows that solid state storage options are still expanding.