Doug’s IT Tech Tip: P420m SSD Is a Wise Investment for Your Virtualized Environment

By Doug Rollins - 2014-12-16

There’s a ton of buzz (and a touch of hype) around solid state drives (SSDs) enabling virtualized environment success. Is any of it true? How can you be sure?

In general, the promise of virtualized environments reads like a CFO’s peaceful bedtime story; things like lower cost per instance, better management, and better resource utilization could quickly take a CFO into his or her “happy place.” And the promise of SSDs in these environments is even greater: better application performance without compromise, better virtual machine density, removal of the storage bottleneck—the list goes on.

Members of IT teams regularly risk their job stability trying to determine if these promises of virtualized environments is real or just fluff—and answering questions like:   

  • What should be virtualized?
  • What shouldn’t be virtualized?
  • How should we do it?
  • Where should we start? 

You shouldn’t have to risk your livelihood purely on promises from a storage vendor—real data from a trusted third-party source is essential.   

Data Sources – Who Can You Trust?

Thanks to companies like Principled Technologies, you can start to base your virtualization decisions on actual data measured by a third party. Principled Technologies is a well known independent firm that performs the testing, reporting, and analysis of a given solution

Principled Technologies tested Micron’s P320h and P420m PCIe SSDs in Dell’s PowerEdge servers. Take a look at Principled Technologies' Test Report  for details on how the systems were connected and to view test results.

Real Performance in Virtualized Environments − Can You Measure It?

Trusted data measurement and analysis companies like Principled Technologies use VMmark®—VMware’s  benchmarking tool that measures SSD performance in virtualized environments. According to VMware:

“…VMmark® is a free tool that hardware vendors, virtualization software vendors and other organizations use to measure the performance and scalability of applications running in virtualized environments. Get an accurate measurement of your virtual data center performance with VMmark, the industry's first virtualization platform benchmark for x86-based computers. VMmark enables users to:

  • Measure virtual data center performance accurately and reliably.
  • View and compare the performance of different hardware and virtualization platforms…”

Pretty cool, huh?  The fact that a benchmark exists is the good news.  Read on for the (somewhat) bad news.

Measured Performance in Virtualized Environments – What Does It Mean?

Here’s the bad news: You need to dig a bit to really understand VMmark  results, where  performance is measured in terms of comparative values at a specific ”tile” count.  According to Principled Technologies’ Test Report for Micron’s PCIe SSDs, a tile consists of eight virtual machines (VMs) that include database servers, web servers, a mail server, and an idle server.  That’s a pretty good mix of workloads and a pretty good reflection of what we might see in our data centers.

Results – Let’s Get On With It!

In their testing, Principled Technologies was able to run 10 tiles for a total of 80 VMs, which is a pretty hefty workload!  Micron’s P420m SSDs running in the Dell systems with 10 tiles measured a VMmark score of 12.05. I know what you are thinking:  Is 12.05 good?  I asked a Micron SSD expert who is more familiar with these scores, and he put it this way: Good news: We won the world championship!  Bad news: Nobody understands the sport. More specifically, he said: 

“12.05 with 10 tiles is first in class where “class” means number of processor cores, processor model, hypervisor version, and VMmark version. According to Principled Technologies, Micron’s P420m SSD has the highest score of any other ESX 5.X-based system in the same hardware category.”

Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? And the Principled Technologies’ report says:

“…corporate data centers use virtualization technologies to save money and boost flexibility and efficiency. To get the most from virtualization, it is important to invest in the storage options that will deliver excellent virtualized performance … The storage you use for your virtualization solution can be a significant factor in its performance and effectiveness…”

The report goes on to say that the tested configuration with Micron’s P420m SSDs was the top-scoring 32-core server configuration running ESXi 5.5.—and that the P420m is a wise investment. That’s real data showing the P420m’s real value thanks to its top-in-class score—all reported from a third party. I could not have said it better myself!

Leave me a note below if you have questions or comments on how your virtualized environment might benefit from Micron’s PCIe SSDs.

Doug Rollins

Doug Rollins

Doug Rollins is a principal technical marketing engineer for Micron's Storage Business Unit, with a focus on enterprise solid-state drives. He’s an inventor, author, public speaker and photographer. Follow Doug on Twitter: @GreyHairStorage.