Hybrid storage is a welcome relief to power users, IT managers, virtual server hosting administrators, and CFOs of enterprise organizations alike. Anyone who has struggled with storage issues or suffered from sticker shock after seeing the costs associated with high performance flash storage can benefit from a hybrid storage solution.
What is hybrid storage? Hybrid storage is a type of storage that utilizes two different types of storage. Like other hybrids, hybrid storage attempts to maximize the benefits that each of its parts offers while minimizing their undesirable qualities. The primary components of hybrid storage are traditional hard disk drives (HDD) and solid state drives (SSD).
Pros and Cons of HDD
Traditional hard disk drives are tried and true storage devices. They’re relatively reliable, cheap, and available with huge amounts of storage capacity. Unfortunately, their performance is limited by their mechanics. Disks can only spin so fast, making performance the Achilles heel of HHD. Plus, they’re bulky. In an enterprise environment, dozens of hard disks may be needed. All of these devices take up space and consume energy in the datacenter.
Pros and Cons of SSD
Solid state drives involve a newer storage technology that does not rely on spinning mechanical disks. For example, your digital camera likely has a removable SSD card and you’ve likely used a USB drive to store files. These are solid state storage devices. Notice how small they are with no moving parts? They are a fraction of the size of a traditional hard disk, and they don’t generate heat. Plus, SSD performs dramatically better than a spinning disk. So, what’s the problem? SSD is cost-prohibitive, especially for enterprise organizations with massive storage requirements. When you compare the cost per gigabyte of HDD and SSD storage systems, SSD can’t compete. Few companies have the resources to choose an SSD-only storage system.
How Hybrid Storage Blends and Maximizes HDD and SSD
Hybrid storage takes advantage of the pros of each type of storage and uses those to minimize the disadvantages of each. A hybrid array typically uses hard disks for storing the majority of the data and solid state drives for storing and accessing the most commonly used data.
It’s sort of like the Pareto principle (or 80-20 rule) which suggests that about 80 percent of an event’s effects come from 20 percent of its causes. Think of your personal computer’s hard drive from this perspective. 80 percent of its data, while still important, isn’t necessarily used on a routine basis but 20 percent of it is. What if you could store that 80 percent using the most cost-effective (albeit slow) storage system available? At the same time, what if you could store and access the other 20 percent, the data you use every day, using the fastest data storage system (albeit expensive) available? That’s what hybrid storage does. It uses the most cost-effective system available to store the bulk of your data and adds a small amount of SSD storage for everyday use. As a result, you get the performance you want most of the time at a far lower cost than investing in an all flash SSD storage array.
Hybrid storage is used by individuals, organizations, and virtual server hosting providers alike thanks to its cost, performance, and capacity advantages.