SSD tool is free, but will users buy into it?

Solid Data Systems wants to cool your input/output (I/O) hot spots in Oracle applications.

The San Jose, Calif.-based maker of solid-state disk (SSD) file-caching appliances has made a new version of its software tool, called I/O Dynamics for Oracle, available for free on its Website.

I/O Dynamics is a self-contained, database analysis application that lets users spot periods of peak I/O activity in Oracle databases and identify the specific files that are limiting their application performance. Since the application runs on a Windows workstation and not the production database server, it does not put any extra load on system performance, the company said.

Solid Data says it is making the tool available for free in order to accelerate the acceptance of SSD technology overall, and not just to sell its products.

"Solid state is growing out of a tiny niche market, but one of the things keeping people from adopting solid-state storage is not knowing what to put on the device," said Vicki Vollmar, director of product marketing for Solid Data. I/O Dynamics, she said, shows users where their applications can benefit from SSD technology.

Aberdeen Group analyst Dan Tanner said the I/O Dynamics tool is useful, but it brings up the debate over solid-state technology. The catch of SSD, he said, is the willingness to spend for storage that is more expensive on a dollar-per- byte basis than magnetic disk in order to gain speed. "Cost for performance is always a classic tradeoff," said Tanner.

Version 2.0 of I/O Dynamics queries Oracle systems tables to obtain read/write information for each active tablespace, and presents its findings in color-coded graphs, automatically identifying the most frequently accessed database areas.

The free download of I/O Dynamics will run for thirty days, after which the user will be asked to register the software. The registration puts the user on an opt-out mailing list for Solid Data's products and, in return, Solid Data supplies a key that will unlock the application for unlimited use.

The company said that while it is currently giving the software away, they might apply a charge in the future.

Solid-state file caching is an architectural solution where files reside entirely in non-volatile SDRAM and are accessed with zero mechanical latency. Solid Data claims that by eliminating the need for writing data to rotating platters along with RAID caching algorithms, data access time is reduced from around 7 milliseconds to about 0.014 milliseconds (14 microseconds). In applications where I/O is unbalanced, the most frequently accessed files, also called "hot files," make up less than 5% of an application's total data, but eat up more than 50% of the I/O activity. Moving hot files to SSD file cache frees up servers and boosts performance.

Companies like Imperial Technology Inc., Seek Systems Inc., and Solid Data are all vying for a piece of the SSD market, which IDC projects could reach $2 billion by 2004.

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Kevin Komiega, assistant news editor

For more information:

I/O Dynamics for Oracle Version 2.0 free download page

searchStorage Tips: Uses for solid-state disks

searchStorage chat transcript: What is solid-state disk?

I/O Dynamics impact analysis

Imperial to debut new rack-mounted SSDs

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