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The differences between desktop and server storage c/o Nexenta

One would think we all know the difference between storage designed for desktops and storage designed for servers, but in all actuality, the lines have blurred a bit with the advent of desktop virtualization and cloud.

Seagate Cloud Builder Alliance partner Nexenta recently released “NexentaVSA for View that is designed to handle the storage demands made by desktop workloads that are executing in a VMware View-based, server-based environment,” so says this article by By  for Virtually Speaking on ZDNet.

Here is a rundown of the differences highlighted in the ZDNet article between desktop and server storage that the NexentaVSA for View addresses head-on:

  • Desktop systems typically are provisioned with low-cost storage devices. Server workloads typically are supported by higher-cost, higher performance storage devices.
  • Server file systems are optimized to use big blocks of data to maximize caching and minimize I/O operations because server workloads traditional do more processing on each unit of storage. Desktop file systems are optimized to use small blocks of storage and assume that only a small amount of processing will be done on each unit of data.
  • Server workloads typically transfer larger amounts of data into and out of storage in every operation. Desktop workloads transfer many more small amounts of data in the same time period. 
  • Servers don’t go off and online all at the same time so there aren’t “storms” of storage requests at the beginning and ending of each staff shift. Desktop workloads tend to come online at the beginning of each shift and go off line at the end of the shift. 
  • Server storage is a shared resource on servers and this requires fine grain control of who can use files and applications. Desktop environments are typically support a single user’s applications and data. 
Sounds all too familiar to a hard drive guy like myself.  Seagate has been preaching the differences between desktop and enterprise-class drive for years.  It seems like a never ending argument that just does not seem to sink in with certain customers.
Because for years the hard drive has been commoditized – reduced down to a me-too component that could not possibly be differentiated or deliver more value than it should.  We won’t mention who is to blame here.  I applaud Nexenta for knowing and stressing the differences – even if at a system level.  At the end of the day, the hard drive or storage device contributes the most cost in the overall system, and it’s only growing, because areal density technology advancements have slowed, yet capacity and performance demand is skyrocketing.
Given this fact, shouldn’t system providers be looking at the storage device more strategically?
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