Flash Storage by the Terabyte Takes Hold at Conn. Service Bureau
Deploying technology analogous to "thumb drives on steroids" is helping a venerable Connecticut core processor reach new levels of back-shop efficiency.
COCC recently replaced spinning magnetic disks with solid-state disks in its data center, allowing the service bureau to increase system performance by 85%, the company said.
The disks are RamSan-620 units from Texas Memory Systems and are primarily used to run COCC's Open Solutions Inc. platforms on Oracle databases and IBM P-series servers.
Three of the units are in production with a fourth set to go, all replacing a more traditional mechanical storage array that has been in place for six or seven years, Burney said.
The deployment also followed years of co-developing with Open Solutions Inc. following COCC's decision to use that company's new DNA core processing systems in its service bureau environment.
Solid-state disks use direct-to-disk technology to store data directly on memory chips, with internal batteries and backup disks in place to prevent data loss in event of power loss or other sudden shut downs.
A typical thumb or flash drive might have a gigabyte or two of storage. The drives in COCC's system can handle up to five terabytes, or 5,000 gigabytes.
Chad Burney, assistant vice president of infrastructure, said he believes COCC's use of solid-state disks might be a first for a data center like his.
After a period of planning, "it was basically plug and play for us," Burney said. The 85% productivity improvement he cited is mostly gained from a dramatic increase in processing speed, from about 1.5 to two seconds per online transaction, for example, to 0.2 to 0.3 seconds per transaction.
More gains are expected as work continues with the disks on a development server, coming up with new online and batch jobs that can take advantage of the disks' speed.
Along with system performance gains, physical space also is saved by the solid-state disks, because they are so much smaller than magnetic spinning disks. They also use far less power and need less cooling, Burney said.
Additionally, the operation now no longer is limited to 25 to 30 databases per server, its benchmark for the past 10 years or so, he said.
"This totally changes everything," Burney said. "We can now use our existing infrastructure for the next two or three years without paying for more, extremely expensive, database licensing."
He said the first three months of the deployment, which launched last summer, already had resulted in an estimated $200,000 in savings on power bills, licensing and maintenance. Staffing changes are another result.
Along with new efficiencies for existing operations, the solid-state disks will help the center scale going forward, the company said.
"We have some fairly large clients on board and we have some new ones coming on, plus we're seeing a lot more use of some of our more data-intensive products," said Bob Bessel, COCC's director of public relations and marketing. "We need the storage."
COCC said the solid-state disk deployment is the latest in a series of projects and products that have boosted the company's efficiency and bottom line in the past year. Others cited included document management, compliance automation and CRM.
Such efficiencies have enabled the company to return savings to its clients for the second year in a row. This year's $770,000 total product and services credit was 60% larger than last year's first such credit, the company said.