Making the most of fast Solid State Drives (SSDs)

SSDs are outstandingly efficient and fast, but they are still more expensive than traditional spinning hard drive solutions for bulk storage. While this situation continues to change and the cost of solid state drives (SSDs) becomes more favourable, current deployments will tend to be a hybrid of solid state and traditional disks. How does Third Light manage this requirement?

All Third Light IMS Enterprise servers come with a simple, graphical tool called the IMS Storage Manager. The Storage Manager can be used to manage disks or network storage that you attach to your server.

What can the IMS Storage Manager do?

  • Add new hard drives
  • Add new virtual server disks
  • Add new network storage, SAN or iSCSI storage
  • Migrate content from one storage area to another
  • Drain and delete old, obsolete storage
  • Choose particular types of content to store on particular storage areas

Perhaps the most powerful feature provided is the ability to force certain content to be stored on nominated storage devices. This is how we make best use of SSDs, while also allowing cost-effective storage of larger media files such as videos. We move smaller, more regularly-accessed thumbnails to SSD storage while keeping very large video content on cheaper, slower hard drives.

This provides an ideal solution: one which benefits users in the most noticeable areas (eg. loading a page of thumbnails can be far quicker) while hardly affecting their use of video content at all. Since video access is dominated by overall transfer times rather than latency, this works out well.

Recommended Best Practice for SSDs

  • Install the Third Light OS (database) on SSDs
  • Use SSD for thumbnails (and possibly previews, too)
  • Use hard drives for video content
  • Store all other content on hard drives, SAN or NAS
  • Add more storage pools when 80% full
  • Grow incrementally: storage costs are always falling
Digital asset management storage

Forward Planning and "On Demand" Provisioning

We can see a very strong trend towards larger, more durable SSD drives which suggests in future SSD media will be more economical. While the largest SATA hard drives are now 6TB or even larger, making them still significantly higher capacity than the largest available SSD devices, it may well be that within a reasonably short space of time SSD technology will catch up. If so, it will probably dominate all but the most specialist storage designs given its reliability, speed and lower power consumption.

Storage technology and pricing has always followed a trend of lower and lower costs per gigabyte. For this reason, we strongly advocate only adding enough storage for today (and perhaps the next 18 months) so that when your digital media library is perhaps 80% full, a newer and most probably cheaper generation of storage can be added. The "on demand" concept is supported by the IMS Storage Manager and makes forward planning far more manageable.

One way to visualise the cost of storage is to graph storage costs over time. One particularly good web site that does this is PC Part Picker:

Digital asset management storage

Credit: PC Part Picker -

If this article has raised questions that you'd like to discuss, we are always happy to help! Please get in touch if you are planning a digital asset management system where storage is a major factor, and we will be glad to assist.