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Steadfast Networks: More Than 100 SSDs

Investigation: Is Your SSD More Reliable Than A Hard Drive?
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Steadfast Networks uses about 150 Intel SSDs, making its operation slightly larger-scale than the previous two businesses. This inventory list includes the X25-E (32 GB and 64 GB) and X25-M (80 GB and 160 GB). To a lesser extent, the company also uses 40 GB X25-Vs, and other customers have used/requested OCZ's Vertex 2, SuperTalent, and MTron Pro drives. Regardless of brand, you will only see these SSDs deployed in database servers or as cache drives.

Steadfast Networks : Close to 150 SSDs in use!Steadfast Networks : Close to 150 SSDs in use!

Over the course of two years, the company has only experienced two errors requiring drive replacement, and both resulted in the company getting its data off of the SSDs. Information recovery from a failed SSD depends on the interaction between the controller and firmware. InterServer’s experience with SuperTalent's SSDs on the previous page sounds like a worst-case situation, since none of its information was retrievable. That's not always the case, though.


Number of Drives
Avg. AFR
Years in Use
SSDs
~150
1.6%
2+
Hard Drives
~2800
5%
6+


With a larger dataset, we finally see some SSD failures. Compared to hard drives, though, the failure rates are still much lower. However, the president of Steadfast Networks, Karl Zimmerman, feels this still understates the benefit of SSDs. He provides the following explanation.

We simply get significantly higher I/O [with SSDs] at a lower cost than we'd be able to get with standard drives. We've had many customers needing more I/O than what 4x 15k RPM SAS drives in RAID 10 provide, and an upgrade involves moving to a larger server chassis to support more than four drives, a larger RAID card, etc. Other configurations have needed 16+ 15k RPM drives to get the necessary I/O. Going with a single SSD (or a couple SSDs in RAID) greatly simplifies the configurations and makes them much cheaper overall.

That is then compounded by the fact that you generally use one SSD to replace 4+ standard drives on average. You're then looking at a 20%+ AFR with hard drives and 1.6% with an SSD.
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