What A Difference A Bay Makes

July 8, 2015

Author: Neil Cameron

I did this test several years ago to show (a) how ridiculously expensive full-blown SSD servers were and (b) how little more you actually paid for maxCache. So I thought I’d have a go at it again based on current prices from the web (these are all $AUD based on websites from shopbot.com.au).Server Rack Cluster

I picked, as an example, a database server. I have 8-bay and 16-bay servers, and I’ve done some very rough calculations based on capacities of the drives. Note that the drive capacities won’t be spot on as you don’t get what you pay for, but I don’t know exactly what the real capacities are for these drives so didn’t worry about that part of the calculation.

The 8-bay server

The big non-surprise here is that maxCache is the most expensive. There are a few reasons for that, but mostly the fact that you need a more expensive controller and SSDs, compared to the full spinning media server where you can get away with a much slower RAID card.

The real surprise is the cost of the SSD server. I’ve used the 71605E (yes I’m banging on about that card again) because it will “just” cope with 8 x SSD and we don’t need a flash module in pure SSD arrays … plus the fact it’s inexpensive.

8 Bay Server Costs


The 16-bay server

In the 16-bay server, things balance out a bit more. The maxCache server is cheaper to purchase than even the spinning media server, but you don’t get as much capacity. Because you are amortizing the cost of the maxCache software (card) over a larger capacity, it has far less impact on the overall cost of the server.

Of course the SSD server goes way up in price, but in fact its $ per Gb doesn’t really change from the 8-bay server to the 16-bay server (very little anyway).

16 Bay Server Costs


So why am I putting this out there? I think it’s interesting to look at the overall cost of things in reality, compared to people’s perceptions. For example someone might say, “maxCache/pure SSD are way too expensive … my customer won’t cop the cost of SSDs.” Really? When explained in this manner, I think a lot of customers will think differently.

Of course the key is performance. Almost anyone will believe that servers with SSDs are “way” faster than servers with spinning drives alone; that’s not that hard a sell. So if, in the case of the 8-bay server, you said to your customer, “the server will be $1149 more expensive to go full SSD,” then yes, he might balk at it.

However, if you said, “for an extra 22 cents/GB you can get a full-SSD server, which will run like the blazes,” it doesn’t sound expensive at all.

Lesson: it all depends on how you present things, but it’s worth investigating the full costs of the differences between a spinning, caching and pure SSD server before assuming the value.


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