Doug’s IT Tech Tip: SSDs Really Can Simplify Microsoft SQL Deployments

By Doug Rollins - 2015-04-29

Whether attending industry conferences or just roaming the halls at work, I get to meet a wide cross section of people involved in the technology business—in marketing, sales, IT, design, manufacturing, along with a host of other divisions. Within each of these, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a variety of professionals, from those in charge of very forward-looking technology decisions to those who are “in the trenches” managing the daily operations of key systems. Among all of these groups, I feel a real kindred spirit to the folks in IT who keep business moving day in and day out.

When talking to my friends and acquaintances in IT lately, one “pain point” that keeps coming up relates to the complexities of their everyday jobs. If there was a way to simplify the mechanics of doing their jobs, they say they would have more time and resources to focus on moving their business forward.

They have a point: If we could make near-term planning and daily operations easier, we’d spend less time doing them and more time on strategic tasks.  Sounds great, but can we do it?  Is there any technology that delivers on the promise of simplicity for our IT friends?  Let’s take a look at two examples of relational database simplification through the use of solid state drives (SSDs), and I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Complex SAN or Simple DAS?

Not long ago, I got to meet with some of Micron’s internal IT group charged with improving the overall capability of our manufacturing tracking systems.  Their global standardization efforts for these systems were not moving as quickly as they wanted, primarily due to the complexity and expense of their legacy storage area network (SAN).  They needed three key improvements to move the project forward:

  1. Simpler systems design (including the ability to support it internally)
  2. Lower costs (both cost to deploy and cost to manage)
  3. Better latency 

Ultimately, they met all three requirements with direct attached storage (DAS) in the form of our enterprise SSDs installed locally. The result was simpler (just a pair of general-purpose, 2U servers), the cost was lower (with far easier management), and the latency reduction freed up key resources to focus on growth imperatives (instead of coaxing out small increases in application responsiveness).

Were they successful?  Watch this video interview, and decide for yourself:

Multiple LUNs or Just One?

Not only does the storage platform have opportunities for improvement, the basic configuration of simpler storage is just as important.  As shown in the example above, simplicity (of the storage configuration) is a virtue made possible by SSDs.

Legacy storage puts a tremendous load on platform designers. Because of conventional storage’s inability to handle highly mixed I/O loads with any real efficiency, designers have had to present their database administrators (DBAs) with different logical unit numbers (LUNs)—each with different capacity and performance characteristics.  The DBAs have, in turn, had to put different portions of different databases on each, making for a deployment that’s more complicated than anyone really wants.

SSDs can really help here too: Because performance SSDs can easily handle mixed workloads and offer robust internal data protection mechanisms, database storage is far simpler. Just put everything on one LUN, and that’s all the configuration needed.  To see an example of how successful this simplicity can be, take a look at our Micron P420m PCIe SSD and Microsoft SQL Server 2014: An Ideal Match for OLTP Workloads Technical Brief . Pay particular attention to how the storage was configured: one LUN housing all the data and logs offering stellar performance.

Making SQL Simpler

Enterprise SSDs really can make SQL deployments (and to some extent, life) simpler.  Already using a complex SAN with several purpose-built LUNs (different RAID levels, different performance)?  Want to make your SQL deployment simpler?  Want to free up tuning resources to focus on projects with more net value? Have a look at our enterprise SSDs for your SQL servers. They make everything simpler, and when you see your colleagues in the hallway or at the next technology conference, they (and maybe you) will actually be wearing a smile.

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.