I found a report recently that eBay had implemented 100TB of SSD storage from Nimbus Data for their virtual infrastructure. That’s a huge amount of very fast storage, which definitely helps explain how the eBay auctions seem to run so quickly. Apparently eBay isn’t the only company that’s moving to SSDs for part of their infrastructure as Facebook spent $69million on FusionIO storage.
SSD storage isn’t cheap, with eBay reporting $25k for a 2.5TB device, which is about 2.5 times the cost of my rough pricing from Dell for a similar HDD device. The SSDs have amazing performance, though I’m not sure what the reliability is compared to HDDs. There are plenty of vendor studies that promise long lasting drives, but I think we’ll have to see what more people report as they deploy these drives over time.
I’ve never worked in a company similar to eBay or Facebook that had a very large IT budget and could afford to over-spend to achieve high levels of performance. I’ve always had to analyze the price/performance ratios and choose hardware that met our needs, at a reasonable price. However I am glad that companies that need high performance are willing to try new technologies, and hopefully release the results of their investment at some point in the future.
More and more people are starting to implement SSD drives, but not as their only storage. I find companies using these drives in limited places, as tempdb drives, log drives, or for certain filegroups. The premium paid for these drives means they need to be used where they provide that highest level of performance for the price, which isn’t every place you store data in SQL Server.
As SQL Server DBAs, we need to learn more about the impact of SSDs in different parts of our systems, plan for them to fail more often than HDDs for now, and more importantly, consider designing in some type of archiving or partitioning strategy that can tier storage into faster, and slower, sets of data.