Adding SSD to a tiered storage system

When adding solid-state drives (SSDs) to a tiered storage system, do you need to invest in new management software, or do the SSDs plug in seamlessly?

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It depends on a number of factors. If the tiered storage setup has software that automatically moves data, files, LUNs, sub-LUNS, and the like, between storage tiers based on policies, and that software supports an SSD tier, then the answer is no. But there are a couple of "ifs" to that answer.

If there is no tiered software -- and the tiering is manual -- then the user can continue to do things manually without any new investment in software tiering management. The SSDs plug in seamlessly as just another storage tier. Manual storage tiering is labor-intensive and administrators just do not scale. Throwing bodies at the problem doesn't work either. If the automated tiering software does not support SSDs, then the answer becomes yes.

The better question is whether or not there should be automated storage-tiering software when SSDs are part of a storage-tiering setup, and that answer is an unqualified yes.

This was first published in August 2012

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