Using Green to Sell ZFS

By chromatic
June 11, 2008 | Comments: 2

What's most interesting to me about Jonathan Schwartz's Anything But a Flash in the Pan isn't the argument that solid-state storage devices will make servers faster, more reliable, and less power-hungry. (If you pay attention to Brian Aker -- of MySQL at Sun -- you already know that SSD is changing certain database strategies already.)

The interesting part is tying in ZFS.

Schwartz's argument about the reliability of Flash devices compared to hard drives is interesting, especially given the prevalence of at least one failure at any time when you have hundreds or thousands of hard drives. The reliability of mechanical components has its limitations, after all.

Speed and power reductions are better arguments for adopting SSD. While there may be power reductions available in the future of those spinning hard drive platters, the biggest changes in the past few years have been increased storage sizes. Flash devices offer better speed, no moving parts, much lower power requirements, increasing reliability, and increased storage sizes. Don't forget that the lack of moving parts means less waste heat production, which means lower costs to remove waste heat.

Here's the interesting part of Schwartz's announcement: ZFS mitigates the one potential downside of a Flash device in the same way that a good filesystem works around weak spots on a hard drive platter. (Nothing against ZFS -- it's a very clever design. This is a feature I expect from every mature modern filesystem, however, if not in the SSD controller itself.)

Will businesses try OpenSolaris just to get ZFS? I don't know... but it's a very clever argument that ZFS can help your data center go faster and save electricity costs.


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2 Comments

Hi!

I've not asked Jonathan why he thought that ZFS was better then any other Filesystem for Flash (I know there are issues right now in the Linux Kernel around the support for flash drives... but I know nothing more then that).

The one nifty thing about ZFS is the pooling of storage spaces but there are several technologies that do this at the moment.

Are flash drives green though? I really do not know, but I suspect no one has really done the effort to find out if they are or not.

Cheers,
-Brian

The argument I've heard is that ZFS is very aggressive about maximizing the possible potential writes to a Flash device. Rather than concentrating at the fastest or first spot, it spreads out writes evenly.

I don't know how green Flash devices are, but it makes sense that they require less electricity and produce less waste heat -- no moving parts helps.

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