What is Hybrid Storage?

By Matt Breitbach, LightEdge Engineer

What is hybrid storage and why should you be interested in it?  Traditional spinning disk-based storage arrays require large numbers of disks to generate high performance and low latency.  This tends to result in significantly more storage being purchased than is actually needed, just so you can satisfy the performance requirement.

Hybrid storage is the merging of RAM, Solid State Drives, and traditional hard drives to deliver better performance from storage arrays while keeping costs down.  Newer Solid State Drive (SSD) storage arrays perform significantly better than tradition spinning disk based storage systems, but lack the capacity that hard drive based systems can offer without significant budget modifications.

Hybrid storage systems work by keeping the bulk of your data on spinning hard drives and then storing the most frequently used data on the SSD for higher performance.  Typically the “working set” of data is less than several hundred gigabytes.  This means that the storage system can watch for the most actively accessed and most recently accessed bits of data, and keep those bits of data instantly available on the Solid State Drives.  When additional requests for that data come in, those requests are serviced from RAM or SSD, at a significantly higher performance level than if the data was coming from traditional spinning disk.  We still get the ability to store data that is less frequently accessed on the same storage system and write that data out to spinning disk, reducing the need for expensive SSD and RAM.

This is just the tip of the iceberg on hybrid storage arrays, and the knowledge that is out there could fill, well, a large hybrid storage array.  If you have any questions about hybrid storage, or would like to talk to someone about moving to a hybrid storage array, please contact our team at info@lightedge.com.