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8 minute readWhich Disk Drive Is Right For My Storage?

How do you know when which type of disk drive is the best choice for your storage environment?

Check out our video featuring a conversation between Reliant Technology’s CEO, Reid, and one of our storage engineers, Michael with tips and tricks about the differences between different types of disk drives and how to choose the right type for your storage infrastructure.

At Reliant, we’re here to help you figure out ways to make the best decisions for your organization around your data storage technology. 

Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have!

And for more videos such as this, check out our YouTube channel.

Video Transcript:

Reid: I’m Reid and this is …

Michael: Michael.

Reid: You got a beautiful beard, by the way. We’re here today to talk about data storage, specifically disk drives. If you’re upgrading a storage system, you probably have some questions about what kind of disk drives to buy. We just covered another segment, flash drives, which are also known as SSDs or EFDs.

Michael: EFDs, SSDs.

Reid: I feel smarter by hanging out with you. Now we’re going to cover some different types of drives. If you’re using flash drives, you might be using them as a cashing pool. You might be using them for some kind of high-speed application like VDI or something like that. If you’re totally rich, you use them for everything. You’re like the Sultan of Brunei. You probably have lots of flash drives.

Michael: You can do that.

Reid: Okay. If you’re not so fortunate, you have to have another type of drive.

Michael: Correct.

Reid: These two drives they’re actually the same size, they’re very similar, but they’re different types of drives.

Michael: Right. The same form factor, they’ll go in the same trays, but actually we have the traditional SAS drive. The 600-gig drive as opposed to the flash drive.

Reid: This is a 200-gig flash drive. This is a 600-gig SAS drive but considerable difference in price and performance.

Michael: Each spend different in IOPS speed. With the 600 it’s approximately 180 and with the flash, theoretically 2,500.

Reid: 180 IOPS, 2,400 IOPS.

Michael: 24, 25. Yeah. Depending.

Reid: We call this drive spindles. Is it the correct thing to call flash drives spindles or not anymore since there’s really no spindles.

Michael: I think we’re always going to call them spindles because we just are.

Reid: Okay. Basically there’s different size disk drives, especially when they do have spindles and have disks inside of them.

Michael: Certainly. Yeah.

Reid: What is a 600-gig drive good for as opposed to a 450-gig drive and how do you try to make that decision of saying, “I think 450-gig drives are the best drive for this workload versus a 600-gig drive?” Because I know our customers and watchers out there probably have all types of drives. 146s, 300s, 450s, 600s, and then you’re talking about SATA drives or Near-Line SAS drives. How do you make that determination to figure out if you want a smaller drive or a bigger drive?

Michael: I think it depends.

Reid: Okay. It’s a good answer, you engineer, you.

Michael: It’s going to depend on your workload. It’s going to depend on really what are you doing today. Right? If I’ve got a 450-gig drive as opposed to a 600-gig drive, did I buy that for a specific reason? That depends. It really does. There’s only 150-gig difference, right? The overhead. Many moons ago, it was really all about the number of spindles. People wanted smaller drives, but a lot of them.

Reid: A bunch of 146s…

Michael: A lot of 146s, yeah. A lot of 73s, a lot of 146s, but now we’re going away from that. You’re seeing with the speed of the drives with the back ends increasing in speed, we have the opportunity to reach that same throughput that we needed early on.

Reid: With fewer drives.

Michael: With fewer drives, yeah.

Reid: Okay. Let’s just take an application that a lot of people use out there. I’m really torn between Oracle or VMware. I’ll pick Oracle for a second. Are you ever going to stick Oracle on a 600-gig drive or is it really always really optimal for a 300-gig drive? How would you know? How would you know, “Oh no, no! You can’t stick that on a 600-gig drive you gotta put that on 300.”

Michael: There’s a lot of determining factors. Right?

Reid: Sure.

Michael: An Oracle instance for a very large bank opposed to a very small company, the requirements are different. That would be how I would judge that.

Reid: The number of users, the workload, the size of the database.

Michael: Right.

Reid: That would play into what size drives you need to use.

Michael: The size and the number.

Reid: Okay. Because basically is it true that the size of this drive is if I can paint a picture of mine, the bigger the disk drive, the farther the… I guess it’s called needle? What is it called inside of …

Michael:  The needle.

Reid: The needle. The thing that actually read the platter. What’s it called, a head? Does it have to go further, so why is it faster?

Michael: I think I may call it the “needle” now. I think you’re talking about the head, maybe.

Reid: I don’t know.

Michael: You’re talking about sectors and seek time and all that. Now you’re really getting into the weeds. It’s where the data is placed within the drive or on the drive, the “needle” has to go back and forth.

Reid: The big drive, does that have to go further? Is it true?

Michael: It depends where the bits lie.

Reid: Oh man, we’re getting too technical. Okay. Is it safe to say that any time you buy a disk drive, let’s say you think you might need to buy some more 300-gig drives or some more 600-gig drives, you really have to look at your workload to figure out what the right fit is.

Michael: Certainly. You would always, if at all possible, you really need to understand your workload profile to set up your back end. That’s not always possible.

Reid: It’s not possible to do what? Figure out your workload profile?

Michael: Yeah.

Reid: Why would it not be possible?

Michael: Sometimes the addition of the drives are in such … The speed that need to be added for capacity constraint. It may be throwing more disks at the problem, not really addressing the problem, just throwing more disks at the problem.

Reid: You’re saying there’s some such situations when you’re hoping to add more drives to solve a performance issue but it could be an issue related to the controller or the CPU or the cache or the SAN fabric or the network.

Reid: The SAN fabric or the network.

Michael: Yeah, exactly.

Reid: Okay. That’s gives us more information about drives. Appreciate that.. that was very hilarious. 

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Reid Smith-Vaniz

by Reid Smith-Vaniz

Reid is the founder and CEO of Reliant Technology and for 14 years has pursued his mission to remove the pain associated with maintaining IT infrastructure. Reid writes on common challenges related to maintaining, servicing, tracking, budgeting, and upgrading technology.

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As Data Center and storage experts, Reliant Technology is available to provide consultations and solutions to your server backup needs. Our experienced engineers and IT specialists are ready to help you determine the best option for your Data Center. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, or if you would like to submit an article for possible publication, please, get in touch with us.