Servers & Systems: The Right Compute

Old school vs. new school – When should you choose hard drives vs. SSDs?


Everyone’s head over heels for SSDs. And for good reason. But depending on your server platform, capacity requirements, and workloads, you may be better off with an HDD fulfilling your storage needs.HPE-Server Storage Blog-1-Image.png

When did all my favorite things become vintage? The stacks of vinyl collecting dust in my basement, the Polaroid camera—also collecting dust in my basement. My daughter even asked me for an old, “retro” sweatshirt I used to wear in college! Vintage is now hip, and I’m left scratching my head.

Still, it’s nice to know that my kids appreciate the value of a tangible picture, or the satisfaction of letting a record spin from start to finish. There’s a time and place for all technology—old and new. Which brings us to, you guessed it: hard-disk drives (HDDs)!

Yeah, yeah, everyone’s head over heels for solid-state drives (SSDs). And for good reason. SSDs are fast and rugged. But depending on your server platforms, capacity requirements, and workloads, you may be better off with an HDD fulfilling your server storage needs. So let’s take a look at when your servers need the latest and greatest storage tech to reach their potential, and when the “vintage” hard drive is your best bet.

Solid-state drives

You’re familiar with SSDs. They’ve been the talk of industry for years now. Because they don’t have moving parts, SSDs can achieve read and write tasks at unheard of speeds, all while conserving power. They also provide higher I/O (input/output) throughput and enhanced reliability; an SSD will still be running at full capacity long after your hard disk drives press their life alert necklaces. Finally, SSDs handle random data applications with ease and can operate in extreme and local storage environments alike.

Solid-state drives are best used for read-intensive workloads. We’re talking boot/swap, web servers, and read caching. But you can also find high-performing write-intensive SSDs that can handle online transaction processing, virtual desktop infrastructure, and big data analytics. And if your inner philosopher is looking to strike the perfect balance, try mixed use SSDs for your highest I/O applications. 

The trouble you’ll run into using only SSDs is scalability. For the cost of 4 terabytes (TB) of hard drive storage, you’ll get 5% of that capacity in SSDs. ( SSDs give you the cost advantage if you need less than 1 TB, while HDDs have the cost advantage for larger capacity needs.

So how should you mix HDDs strategically into your server storage landscape? Read on.

Hard-disk drives

Hard-disk drives are like pumpkin spice latte season—they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. They’re reliable and cost-effective for many workloads, but their greatest strength is capacity. You can store up to 12 terabytes of data in a single drive! The best time to use an HDD is for workloads involving “cold” data. Think of archiving. — It’s crucial to be able to access all that data, but you’re not going in reading and writing it a hundred times a day.

For applications with low read/write intensive workloads, HPE Entry HDDs offer the best value per gigabyte. They’re ideal for boot and backup on select ProLiant servers. If you need higher capacity for bulk storage, backup, archive, or reference operations, try HPE Midline HDDs. They’ll do the job with low startup costs without sacrificing reliability. And then there’s our best-in-class line of Enterprise HDDs that can perform many of the same tasks as SSDs. These HDDs help improve server response times, power more transactions per second, and accelerate data transfer speeds.

Of course, the drawback with hard disk drives is their mechanical nature. Because there’s a physical disk spinning day in and day out, heavy use will wear HDDs down over time. Be sure to replace your HDDs at the end of their lifetime.

Ultimately, a well-configured mix of SSDs and HDDs will be the best option. You can cut costs by using hard drives for cold data, yet still achieve maximum performance for your most active workloads (hot data) with solid state drives.

Don’t skimp on the tires

The quality of the drives, whether HDD or SSD, matters immensely to ensure you get the promised performance. You wouldn’t buy a Ferrari, put cheap white-wall tires on it, and expect to get the same handling as a set of modern, top-end tires, would you?

HPE builds reliability and security into every one of our products. With state of the art technology like helium-filled hard disk drives and Digitally Signed Firmware, HPE keeps your servers around longer and your valuable data protected. We spend the time to test, optimize, and validate every component in our server storage drives to ensure they work together seamlessly to give you peace of mind. And our drives go through over three million hours of the industry’s most rigorous testing and qualification program so that your data center isn’t the crash-test dummy.

Old school vs. new school

You can maximize your investment while still positioning your company for future growth by taking a closer look at your workload needs. Often that means purchasing the latest and greatest in server storage technology. However, like spinning a little James Brown on your record player, sometimes vintage tech has its advantages too.

Strike the perfect balance in your server environment with SSDs and HDDs from HPE.

This article is one in a series on server storage from HPE. To read the other blogs in the series, please see below.

6 Reasons Why Server Storage Drives Are Not All Equal 

What are RAID levels, and which are best for you?

SATA vs SAS vs NVMe?  Making Sense of Storage Interfaces

Upcoming topics include:

Fortify Your Server Storage with Controller-Based Encryption

Storage Market research survey results

Cole Humphreys_HPE.jpegMeet Server Experts blogger Cole Humphreys, Manager, Worldwide Server Storage Product team. Cole has worked closely with customers from around the world, learning their problems and what drives their markets. Currently, Cole is the Manager of the Worldwide Server Storage Product team at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) where he is responsible for the development and delivery of the HPE Server Storage product portfolio, competitive roadmaps, and go-to-market strategies partnering with engineering, procurement, and suppliers.

Server Experts
Hewlett Packard Enterprise

twitter.gif @HPE_Servers


0 Kudos
About the Author


Our team of Hewlett Packard Enterprise server experts helps you to dive deep into relevant infrastructure topics.