Published June 5, 2023

Author Alexey Rogachkov


Three Actionable Ways to Improve Your Cloud Storage

CloudFest Keynote Presentation March 22, 2023 by Alexey Rogachkov 

Data center storage volume is doubling every two years, as applications within the cloud become much more data-intensive and read-intensive. With this growth, the cost of storage in a typical server platform can represent over one third of the bill of materials cost. At the CloudFest event in Europa-Park, Germany, Alexey Rogachkov, Solidigm Sales Director, delivered a keynote address to explain “Three Actionable Ways to Improve Your Cloud Data Storage.” 

Alexey encouraged “right-sizing” your SSD storage choice and looking for opportunities to replace older technology with newer alternatives. Alexey also describes how you can achieve greater value, performance, and density with Solidigm data center SSDs. Some of the areas discussed include:

  • What impact Annual Failure Rate (AFR) should have on CSP acquisition cost consideration
  • Why it’s important to fully understand workload endurance needs
  • Where it makes sense to replace HDDs with QLC SSDs
  • How higher density, higher performing storage can provide substantial Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) savings

To learn more about deploying high-density, high performance data storage, read our article: How EDSFF for Mixed-Workload Applications Can Help Lower Your Costs.

Video Transcript 

Please note that this transcript has been edited for clarity and conciseness 

Host: Next up, we have a session called “Three Actionable Ways to Improve your Cloud Storage.” Here to tell us all about it is Alexey Rogachkov from Solidigm. “Solidigm,”, am I saying it correctly? Come on up, Alexey, come up, you tell us how to pronounce it correctly.

Alexey: Thank you, Jeff. Hello, CloudFest. It's great to be here.

My name is Alexey, I am from Solidigm—and the first thing I would like to address is this. I know it's very tempting to say “Soli-dig-um,” but, in fact it's the combination of “solid” and “paradigm.” That's why it is actually “Solidigm.”

So, for those of you who know Solidigm already, we are a new storage company. But in case you didn't have a chance to know who we are yet, I'm going to give a quick introduction.

Solidigm is a company that was formed at the end of 2021 as the result of the acquisition of Intel’s NAND and SSD (solid-state drive) business by SK hynix. We are headquartered in San Jose, California.

We are a company comprised of some of the industry’s best engineers, problem solvers, and leaders formed by a blend of ex-Intel employees, critical outside talent, and the expertise of SK hynix. Our goal is to become the go-to partner for optimized storage solutions. I hope this gives you the brief understanding who we are and what we do.

Let's go to the agenda items.

Every day we generate a lot of data, right? I'm pretty sure that every single attendee of this CloudFest event is an active internet user. 

We are part of mass of 4.6 billion active internet users, and we generate about 1,000PB (petabytes) of data daily. 

We collectively send about 300 billion emails every day. We exchange about 100 billion WhatsApp messages. We check weather forecasts about 26 billion times a day. This is a lot. 

When it comes to online videos— when it comes to YouTube only—we watch about 1 billion hours of YouTube videos, which is actually about 5 billion videos every single day.

For me, online videos became a primary source of education. For example, understanding how specific software works or what software tricks I could use. Or maybe understanding what a black hole is. Right?

And in addition to the flood of data, there are new and more sophisticated workloads and tools appearing.

Last week was pretty rich when it comes to AI services announcements. You probably heard about ChatGPT-4 being announced, right? And Midjourney 5 was made available.

Obviously, a lot of sample data is required in order to train those models. But another aspect is even more important.

When I tried to check the new ChatGPT-4, I was actually out of luck, simply because the service was at its full capacity. I couldn't ask a question about the meaning of the life or what I could do to make my presentation a bit more attractive. It was just simply unavailable.

What does that mean? It means that a lot of users are actively using those sophisticated tools in order to generate even more data. And that's why it's really interesting what will happen in the next three to five years. It's mind blowing, really.

When it comes to storage, today's storage and future storage should be able to manage those excessive volumes of data.

Why is this important? Because this is how we could achieve better value, capacity, and performance.

Behind me you see three actionable steps that we are going to cover. Let's go to number one.

The first one is paying less for your storage. 

If you are a cloud company using SSDs today, I'm pretty confident that you are actually over-buying when it comes to your storage needs.

Why is that? There is a simple explanation.

We talk to a lot of customers, including here and on a daily basis doing business. And what we find is that majority of those customers actually have little understanding, limited insight into what kind of workloads are being used by both their internal and external customers.

At the same time, workload landscapes are massively changing. Most of the workloads we are seeing today are more read-intensive. At the same time, their infrastructure is designed for worst-case scenarios, expecting them to be really, like, mixed-workloads or write-intensive applications.

But based on our research, up to 90% of customers are actually saying that 95% of their workloads are actually read-intensive. 

If your workloads look like that today, but you have limited understanding of them, this is actually an opportunity to increase efficiency. 

How? By paying less per GB (gigabyte) with SSDs or increasing the density. And this is exactly what we designed our value series of Solidigm SSDs for. Those are being designed to achieve better value and higher density when it comes to capacity.

Now, let's look at number two. And this is basically the key reason why you might be over-buying your SSD storage today. 

That reason is endurance. 

When the first data center SSDs started to be deployed back in maybe 2010, the behavior of those drives and the workloads were not very well understood.

I remember when I had the first Enterprise SSD in my hands. It was a drive designed with technology called SLC, single-level cell. It means that every single cell of the SSD could store one bit of information, one or zero. And the endurance profile of those drives was about 40 drive writes per day (DWPD). Four zero. 

Over time, the appetite for endurance gradually decreased when it came to what storage architects considered. It slowly went from 40, then to ten, then to five. And now we are settling around three or one drive write per day.

This is a pretty good evolution, right? And this retrospective gives us a better perspective—those workloads and the behavior of drives are much better understood now. So, drives are becoming smarter. They are able to manage data intelligently internally. 

This is intelligence that we built into our firmware.

In fact, we expect that about 85% of data center SSDs shipped today have an endurance profile of one drive write per day or less.

And based on this study—which was based on a large sample with statistically significant data—it says that 99% of those drives use at most 15% of rated life of the drives by the end of their lifecycle.

That means that there is an opportunity for increasing efficiency, and there is an opportunity for savings as well.

So, I mentioned the very first data center drives which I had in my hands back in 2009, and the maximum capacity of this SSD was 64 GB.

What I'm holding in my hands right now is our existing model. You see, it still has the Intel logo and this is actually a QLC drive, with quad-level cell technology (QLC). This means that every cell can actually store four bits of information. That’s four times more compared to the very first drives which I mentioned before. And the capacity of this drive is actually 30 TB (terabytes). Three zero.

But in fact, later on this year, we are going to introduce the successor of this drive, which will have a Solidigm logo on it. But more importantly, we are going to double the capacity to 60 TB. Six zero. It will be available later on in the year. And this is a lot of data.

That is a lot of data. And also I would like to stress that these drives have enough endurance not to wear out as quickly as it once may have appeared.

Now, let's talk about number three. Sustainability. 

Many of you downloaded the CloudFest app, right, and I did so as well. So, when I looked into the feed that people, attendees, were sharing, it was quite interesting to see that many people were actually sharing how many years they have attended CloudFest, right?

It's quite pleasing, probably, for the CloudFest team to see that people are attending CloudFest for the fifth time, sixth time. I actually saw someone who said that they've been going to the event for 11 years. Those are very loyal returning customers, right?

For those of you who were brave enough to come to CloudFest last year, you probably remember the key topic for the very first post-pandemic CloudFest 2022 was Sustainable Cloud.

I had the privilege to be in the audience. I was listening to sessions, attending panel discussions and talking to attendees. And it basically became pretty obvious that sustainability is an important topic for many cloud professionals, customers, industry, regulators, and communities.

And it also means that this is a big investment. This is a big investment into understanding the supply chain, understanding the carbon footprint of the hardware providers, redesigning supply chain, redesigning internal processes.

I also remember one of the speakers was saying that they are redesigning their chassis in order to enable multiple uses over a longer period of time, for sustainability reasons.

But at the same time the good news is that when it comes to cloud storage, more affordable storage could be more sustainable storage as well. And let me give you a very specific example of that.

We actually worked with one of our customers, a US-based cloud service provider (CSP) that delivers content delivery networks. They were looking to upgrade of their existing solution, which was a combination of three-level cell (TLC), like mainstream SSDs, and also HDDs (hard disk drives), which they were using as a combined solution.

When we worked with them, we identified that Solidigm value series SSDs could be a replacement. The result of this project was a massive 4.9X reduction in physical footprint. Almost 5X.

They also benefited from a massive weight reduction simply because they have fewer servers to manage. There was a massive 4.6X power reduction, and with the growing power costs this is actually quite an important topic to look at.

Obviously, when you have much less servers to care about, there is also the opportunity to spend less, and you need less effort to cool down the servers and dissipate less heat and remove it from the data center. And when it came to end-of-life disposal, with fewer servers to care about, they actually saw a massive 3.6X improvement on number of servers they’ll need to dispose at the end of their lifecycle.

But this a pretty far example, right? US-based? Let me give you another real-life example which is much closer to us.

We are currently working with a cloud service provider which is headquartered in Europe, but they are operating globally. We had a chance to provide them the Solidigm value series SSDs for evaluation. In fact, this is the brother of this drive, but with smaller capacity: 15 TB.

They got it at the end of last year, and early this year they shared the early testing results with us. They said that they see the opportunity to replace their older solution, which uses older SSD drives, and replace every ten racks that they have installed globally with just one single rack of servers with Solidigm D5-P5316 15 TB drives. This is a massive 10X reduction when it comes to consolidation ratio, 10:1, no question about that.

At the same time, they saw about 6X improvement in performance. So that's why this is really a significant improvement compared to what they had before. And again, when it comes to physical footprints, number of servers, weight reduction, power reduction, this is all working well. It’s one of the main reasons why they are looking into this.

I hope that I will be able to share more specific details about those numbers with you pretty soon, because this is an ongoing project, but early results are looking very promising. So that's why with Solidigm value series SSDs, more affordable storage could be also more sustainable storage.

As I mentioned, our ultimate goal is to become the go-to partner for optimized data storage solution. We are here for you, and this is the reason why we are here at CloudFest.

If you would like to have a chance to talk to us, we are located at booth F05. Let's discuss what you are using today and what the opportunity for improvement when it comes to cost saving might be. Come to us and let's see what kind of workloads you are running. 

If you have limited insight into that, we will be more than happy to share our very easy-to-use tool that allows you to understand what the actual requirements of your workload are and how to right-size your SSDs for the given task.. This is running in our booth, very visible, very easy to use. Please come over and check it out.

Another thing, when it comes to sustainability, let's discuss your goals, your future-looking goals and see how we could assist you with achieving those. We want to become the go-to storage partner for every single one of you, and that means that we have to make our portfolio pretty broad because you are representing different companies, you have different sets of requirements, and you have different preferences as well.

And that's why it can be a pretty daunting task to understand what is the best size, what is the best SKU, what is the form factor, what is the capacity or endurance profile that you need. That's why we are here. Talk to us and we will do our best to find the ideal solution tailored to exactly your needs.

Thank you for your attention. Thank you for being with me today. It is a pleasure, and very exciting, to be here at CloudFest, and I hope to see you at booth F5.

Host: Hi Alexey, thank you so much. I wanted to ask, I know you mentioned the cost effectiveness for potential customers. Do you have specific savings that you can mention here?

Alexey: First of all, thanks for paying attention. And secondly, when it comes to specific numbers, I would say that value series of Solidigm SSDs offer about 15% to 20% savings compared to the mainstream solution. So those are the specific numbers that we could expect.

Host: Okay. Amazing. And you mentioned the 60TB SSD that that is going to be available later this year. And the fact that you have it in your back pocket is just incredible.

Alexey: Not yet.

Host: Well, thank you so much for the time. Appreciate you joining us here on the stage.

Alexey: My pleasure. Enjoy the rest of the show. Thanks.

Three Actionable Ways to Improve Your Cloud Storage CloudFest 2023 Keynote Address