Each passing week seems to bring new use cases for solid state drives (SSDs) further to the forefront and brings into question the viability of disk and tape for them. This week was no exception. The announcement of NGD Systems 24TB Catalina SSD directly targets use cases such as active archive where tape predominates but for which the 24TB Catalina SSD emerges as a potential replacement.
The use cases for flash, disk, and tape in today’s enterprise data centers largely break down as follows:
- Flash is the preferred medium for production data
- Disk is the preferred medium for primary backups
- Disk and/or tape are the preferred medium for long term data retention and archives
That said, SSD manufacturers have these existing use cases for tape clearly in their sights with the NGD Systems 24TB Catalina SSD specifically taking aim at the active archive use case. In this situation, organizations typically store large amounts of data that never changes but that they frequently reference and access. The best examples of these use cases include any content that is media related such as audio, photographs, or video.
Once this type of content is in its final production format they may never want it changed. Further, they may prefer to store it on low cost, high performance storage media that is optimized for read intensive applications.
This is where the NGD Systems 24TB Catalina SSD fits nicely for the following two reasons.
- Acceptable trade-off between power consumption and performance. SSDs may never equal tape cartridges in terms of their ability to consume zero energy. Conversely, tape cartridges will probably never match SSDs in their ability to deliver high levels of performance. The Catalina SSD, with its ability to deliver 24TB of capacity at less than 0.65 watts per terabyte, provides companies with a very reasonable trade-off between cost and performance.
- Smaller data center footprint. The Catalina SSD packs 24TB of storage capacity onto a single PCIe card. This is more than four times how much uncompressed data can be stored on a single LTO 7 tape cartridge. While LTO 7 tape cartridges promote capacities of 15TB compressed data, the 6TB uncompressed capacity is more meaningful in use cases such as media. The combination of storing 24TB of data on a single PCIe SSD coupled with the performance that flash offers over tape makes Catalina SSD very compelling in these use cases.
Despite these two benefits that the Catalina 24TB SSD offers, widespread adoption for it may still be some time off. A visit to NGD Systems’ website will make any enterprise wonder about the viability of either the product or its company. When I last checked its website the morning after I received its press release, the website listed neither the Catalina SSD nor the press release. This lack of visibility into the product and the company will certainly give organizations pause.
Second, in reviewing its press release, this product, while shipping, is still in qualifications with OEM providers. Further, in speaking with NGD Systems CEO Nader Salessi, he indicated that the SSD will initially be placed and used in servers. Large enterprises storing hundreds of terabytes or potentially petabytes of data will likely want to deploy purpose built storage appliances qualified with the Catalina SSDs. Until that qualification occurs, look at these 24TB SSDs to foretell the future of active archive in the next couple of years but do not expect them to show up on your data center floor as a replacement for tape any time soon.