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My IT Indy

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Just curious if anybody's tried hosting the mailstore on either an SSD drive or an SSD raid.

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My IT Indy
Kerio Certified Reseller and Hosted Provider
http://www.myitindy.com
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j.turley

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I haven't, but I have just got my hands on one of those nice OCZ Vertex 3 drives!
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marketconnections

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I was using a Mac Mini as a server with the standard 5400rpm drives. Performance was fine, except when moving messages around using Apple Mail. Move operations would take forever for more than a few dozen messages and occasionally timeout.

I switched to a 240GB OCZ Vertex2 as the Boot/MailStore drive, and performance is now near instantaneous for these operations. Account sync is much faster as well. I've been running this way for around 7 months, and I'm very happy with the performance increase.
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srobson

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As much as I'd love to move my mail server over to SSD(s) to take advantage of the huge performance boost, the issue of drive wear would give me pause, especially since Kerio Connect constantly writes so many small files. There have been discussions of this issue further back in the forums.
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elias

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srobson wrote on Tue, 31 May 2011 17:41
As much as I'd love to move my mail server over to SSD(s) to take advantage of the huge performance boost, the issue of drive wear would give me pause, especially since Kerio Connect constantly writes so many small files. There have been discussions of this issue further back in the forums.

Using a quality SSD from Intel, OCZ, etc..., this is pretty much a non-issue. The wear leveling algorithms in these drives are really good and as long as you don't keep your drive nearly full, you likely won't notice performance issues related to the drive's internal memory cell management.

For even a heavily used Kerio server, and assuming no manufacturing defects, a good SSD should easily outlive a conventional hard drive and likely even outlive the usefulness of the server its in.

For more information, Western Digital has a good whitepaper on the subject.

-Elias
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scottwilkins

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elias wrote on Wed, 01 June 2011 20:50
For even a heavily used Kerio server, and assuming no manufacturing defects, a good SSD should easily outlive a conventional hard drive and likely even outlive the usefulness of the server its in.

For more information, Western Digital has a good whitepaper on the subject.

-Elias


What he said Smile

The "myth" came about because SSD drives have something rather new in storage, an actual expected life. Normal hard drives have virtually unlimited lives. However, the expected life of an SSD drive is really extremely long. So long that the extected failure rate (or MTBF) of a normal hard drive actually gives it less of a chance to last as long as an SSD drive, even if used heavily.

Also keep in mind that Kerio is more often writing new files, not "rewriting" them, which is the point of wear on an SSD drive.

[Updated on: Fri, 03 June 2011 20:19]

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rcohen

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I have had a lot of trouble with silent corruption on non-enterprise SSDs. I wouldn't trust them in RAID configurations, if you care about your data. RAID doesn't do you much good, if the drive doesn't properly support it.

Write endurance can be an issue. Some SSDs support increasing the spare area for substantially better write endurance, but it's still a serious problem for write-intensive applications.

I have had great performance using a Solaris ZFS iSCSI SAN (Nexenta), which implements SSD read caching in a way that avoids write endurance and silent corruption concerns. (No need to increase spare area.)

To get good performance for Kerio, RAID5 & RAID6 are out of the question. You should use RAID10 (talking about magnetic disks here).

Also, for any iSCSI solution, disabling Nagle's algorithm on both sides will substantially improve performance.
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rcohen

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elias wrote on Wed, 01 June 2011 13:50
srobson wrote on Tue, 31 May 2011 17:41
As much as I'd love to move my mail server over to SSD(s) to take advantage of the huge performance boost, the issue of drive wear would give me pause, especially since Kerio Connect constantly writes so many small files. There have been discussions of this issue further back in the forums.

Using a quality SSD from Intel, OCZ, etc..., this is pretty much a non-issue. The wear leveling algorithms in these drives are really good and as long as you don't keep your drive nearly full, you likely won't notice performance issues related to the drive's internal memory cell management.

For even a heavily used Kerio server, and assuming no manufacturing defects, a good SSD should easily outlive a conventional hard drive and likely even outlive the usefulness of the server its in.

For more information, Western Digital has a good whitepaper on the subject.

-Elias


It really depends on the application. E-mail is not particularly write intensive, so you're probably okay there. SSDs are very good at read-intensive applications. That said, the concerns about RAID support and silent corruption are pretty serious.

In my experience e-mail is write intensive enough to bring RAID5 & RAID6 arrays to their knees, whne you have a decent number of users.
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marketconnections

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I'm not aware of any serious concerns about RAID and SSDs. Can you point out any articles you've read on this front? I'd be interested in knowing which drives are problematic.

I've been reading Anandtech's extensive articles and reviews of SSDs for the past year or two. Their SSD tech author, uses and abuses SSDs extensively and rarely finds reliability faults with them, especially the 2nd and 3rd generation drives. While Anandtech notes that the jury is still out on long-term reliability, I haven't ever seen issues brought up about viability and corruption in the current crop of drives except on rare occasions where the author is previewing drives with non-finalized firmware.

See http://www.anandtech.com/tag/ssd

I've been using a Vertex 240GB drive for my Kerio mail store for 6 months now and so far I'm extremely pleased with the performance. It's running in a Mac Pro case, with no TRIM support, and there have been no performance or data reliability issues. It's about half full. I backup and archive to a separate standard 1TB HD. I've deployed hardware and software RAID 0 SSDs on 2 other servers using Vertex2s and OWC Extreme Pro RE's. No issues so far on those machines either.

RAID 0 is of course, precarious and you have to institute a backup strategy that you feel comfortable with. Nobody wants to lose even an hour's worth of email, so you'd probably want RAID 1 or 10. With the performance of SSDs, I doubt you'd ever have any problems with a RAID 1 setup, as long as you didn't happen upon a pair of lemons.
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scottwilkins

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Unfortuantely there are a number of SSD drives, even the better ones, where RAID simply doesn't work or has some serious performance problems. Shop carefully.

As far as longevity, seems to me if you use a RAID 1+0, and did proper backups daily you'd be ready for any issues. So no problem. Smile

[Updated on: Mon, 27 June 2011 15:53]

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rcohen

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AnandTech is great, but it's a consumer benchmark site, not not focused on enterprise storage. Check out www.storagesearch.com. Also, check out Intel's presentation on SSD reliability and spare area / over-provisioning. Spare area is especially critical when using RAID, because you lose TRIM support.

When dealing with silent corruption, sometimes, neither backups nor RAID will help you.

There is a reason why major server manufacturers don't sell consumer SSD configurations on servers. Just SLC models with higher reliability and extensive testing for reliable RAID support.

My personal experience is that I've had enough SSDs fail me that I wouldn't trust any consumer models for enterprise use, except under a file system like ZFS that that provides end to end error detection and correction.

On the other hand, I have had great luck with Intel SSDs for workstations and laptops, just not server workloads and not RAID.
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winkelman

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rcohen wrote on Tue, 28 June 2011 07:33
... I wouldn't trust any consumer models for enterprise use...

Are you implying you would trust enterprise targeted SSD models? Just asking, you seem to have valuable experience in this matter...
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rcohen

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I haven't personally used the enterprise models, but yes, I think I would trust them. The drive and server manufacturers and are designing and testing them for this task.

I'm sure there are exceptions, but the same is true for hard drives.

What I have used consumer models on servers and workstations. My experience is that the consumer models only give acceptable reliability on servers in an environment (like ZFS) that insure end-to-end data integrity. Even then, some of the consumer models would do nasty things, like drop out under load. Never had that problem with Intel, though.

I'm not sure whether I'd configure enterprise SSDs as RAID0 or RAID10. Depends on your budget and uptime requirements.

As with magnetic disks, RAID 5 & 6 aren't a good match for this application. Save that for archival or read-only workloads.
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