IT execs explain their moves to solid-state storage

Four companies show how performance boosts can make expensive NAND flash technology cost-effective

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"Obviously, with SSDs, unless you're going to make a massive investment and put a whole shelf of SSDs in, you're going to be hamstrung by capacity," Marbes said.

SAP and an all-flash array

Matt Wattles, enterprise infrastructure architect for Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas, said his organization installed an all-flash array from Nimbus Storage last December to address an I/O bottlenecks it the company's SAP SQL Server environment.

While less than a half a terabyte in size, nightly SAP SQL Server database loads on the company's Hewlett-Packard EVA storage array were taking four to five hours to complete. That and the company's other nighttime backups were beginning to move into daytime hours.

Wattles said he needed ERP load times to be reduced to between one and two hours in order to fit his daily window.

The slow backups were also affecting SAP response times. "Developers were not happy with the response times," he said.

Wattles initially tried putting a second set of processors in all of his SAP SQL servers and bumped up the RAM to its maximum capacity, but the problem persisted.

He finally narrowed the performance problem down to the terabyte-sized SAP database and loading data from primary storage, which at the time was an HP EVA storage array and fibre-attached, technology adapted (FATA) and SAS drives.

Wattles initially looked into simply adding SSDs to his HP EVA storage array, but he said that option was even more expensive than purchasing an all-flash array, he said.

Mitsubishi finally settled on an all-flash S Class array from Nimbus Systems.

The 2TB array listed for $50,000 and had a street price of around $40,000, he said. The Nimbus array could be used solely for the SAP environment, offering the highest performance possible without a multi-tenant setup, an added benefit.

The superior performance of the flash storage on the Nimbus array not only eliminated the database bottleneck, it also slashed data backup times from four hours on the HP EVA array to 15 minutes using the new flash array.

Additionally, the all-flash, Fibre Channel-attached array cut backup time from nearly two hours to 20 minutes, an 83% reduction. Now able to fit within his nightly windows, SAP response times for developers also bounded back.

"It made them very happy," he said. "I like the performance so far. There hasn't been a single glitch. I think got the array in one morning and had it up and running that afternoon. That's how easy it was."

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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