Microsoft Releases Windows Server 2012 Pricing

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2012 - 01:12 AM |
Tagged: windows server, windows pricing, windows, virtual machines, software, server, operating system, enterprise

Earlier this week we covered the pricing for Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 consumer-grade operating system. Now, the company has released pricing information for the enterprise side of things, mainly for its non-OEM SKUs of Windows Server 2012. With Server 2012, Microsoft has simplified its lineup with four versions – one of which is only for OEMs.

WinServer2012.jpg

Live Migration will allow virtualized storage to be moved in and out of server instances in real time without restarts.

The three versions that businesses can purchase and install themselves includes Datacenter, Standard, and Essentials. The lowest-tier version is called Foundation and will the version that comes pre-installed from OEMs. The Datacenter version has the most features and is the most lenient on the licensing by allowing businesses the full Windows Server 2012 functionality as well as unlimited virtual server instances. You’ll have to pay for those features, however as the Datacenter SKU is priced at $4,809. On the low end is Essentials which strips out licensed use of virtual instances of Server 2012 and also limites the number of user accounts that can access the server to 25. It will cost $425, which isn’t terribly expensive but is obviously aimed at small businesses. Interestingly, Microsoft states that Essentials has a simplified interface that is “pre-configured” for running cloud services. In the middle of those two extremes is Windows Server 2012 Standard which will run $882 USD and allows two virtualized instances as well as the full Windows Server functionality.

While Microsoft has not released pricing for its OEM-only Foundation version, they have announced that it will be limited to a max of 15 user accounts and no virtualization rights. The table below details the above information in a simplified table, courtesy Microsoft.

Edition Feature Comparison Licensing Model Pricing (USD)
Datacenter Unlimited virtual instances, full Windows functionality Processor + CAL $4,809
Standard Two virtual instances, full Windows functionality Processor + CAL $882
Essentials No virtualization rights, Simple interface pre-configured for cloud services Server (25 user account limit) $425
Foundation No virtualization rights, general purpose server functionality Server (15 user account limit) Not Listed

As Martin Brinkman explains, the top-two tiers are based on a processor licensing model which means that each version is allowed to run on up to two physical processors. The Datacenter version takes that a step further by allowing an unlimited number of virtual machines on those two physical processors while Standard allows two virtual machines on a system with up to two physical processors. To figure out how many licenses you will need to purchase, you can get by with half the number of physical processors. At around five Windows Server 2012 Standard licenses, it starts to become more economical to go with the Datacenter version if you will mostly be spinning up virtualized servers.

Interestingly, Windows Home Server is missing from the above list, and it looks like that is not a mistake. Microsoft has stated in its licensing FAQ (PDF) that it expects home and small business users to move to the Essentials ($425) version for their home server needs. Not exactly the answer that many users are going to want to hear. For those not wanting to spend that much, Microsoft is keeping Windows Home Server 2011 alive until the end of next year (12-31-13), and you will be able to buy Home Server 2011 in an OEM machine until 2025. Fortunately, a system builder version of Windows Home Server 2011 can be found for around $50 and it can support up to 10 users. On the other hand, it won’t have the neat Windows 8-based server features. It will be up to you to decide whether the $400+ price for Essentials is worth it for you home/small business needs.

Just as Microsoft has released a Consumer Preview version of Windows 8, you can download a Release Candidate of Windows Server 2012 to see what the new features are and if they are worth the money. More information on the pricing and various versions can be found here. What do you think of the new Windows Server SKUs?

Source: Microsoft

Sandisk Launches PCIe Solid State Accelerators (SSAs)

Subject: Storage | July 3, 2012 - 12:21 AM |
Tagged: ssd, slc, server, sandisk, PCIe SSD, flash, enterprise, caching

Flash storage company Sandisk has recently jumped into the world of enterprise PCI-E caching SSDs – what they are calling Solid State Accelerators. Currently, they are offering a 200GB and 400GB model under the company’s Lightning PCIe series. The SSDs feature a proprietary Sandisk controller driving 24nm SLC NAND flash, a PCI-E 2.0 x4 interface, and maximum power draw of 15 watts.

The Lightning Accelerators use the NAND flash for Sandisk’s own foundry and offer a large performance boost for servers and workstations over hard drives and SATA SSDs. It is capable of 410 MB/s sequential reads or 110,000 IOPS. Further, when using 4KB and 8KB blocks, the drives can reach 23,000 and 17,000 read/write IOPS respectively. Other specifications include an average response time of 245 microseconds, and less than 30 millisecond maximum response times. The Solid State Accelerators also feature sustained read and write latencies as low as 50 microseconds.

 

SandiskSSA.jpg

Sandisk has built the drives so that they can be configured as boot drives, storage drives, or caching drives. The company supports up to 5 drives in a single system, for a maximum of 2TB of flash storage. In addition, Sandisk is offering up its Flashsoft software that allows the Lightning Accelerators to be used as caching drives on Windows-based systems. Unfortunately, that is an additional cost which is not included in the already pricey SSDs (good thing for corporate expense accounts!).

Speaking of pricing, the 200GB LP206M has an MSRP of $1,350 while the 400GB LP406M has an MSRP of $2,350. Both cards have five year warranties and a MTBF rating of 2 million hours. You can find more information on the Sandisk Website.

It will be interesting to see how this Sandisk accelerator stacks up to the likes of the Intel 910 and FusioIO drives! The FusionIO FX, for example, gives you 420GB of QDP MLC NAND for $2,495, which works out such that Sandisk has a slightly lower cost-per-gigabyte value and SLC flash. We will have to wait for some independant reviews to say which drive is actually faster, however.

 

Source: Sandisk

SanDisk releases new 'Lightning' bootable, lower-cost competitor to the Intel 910 Series PCIe SSD

Subject: Storage | June 5, 2012 - 01:07 AM |
Tagged: ssd, sandisk, pcie, enterprise, computex

Just over a month back we took a look at the Intel SSD 910 Series PCIe SSD. While the specs and performance were excellent, there were some factors preventing use in workstation systems - namely the prohibitive cost and lack of a Boot ROM. With that, it seems SanDisk has made an attempt to answer that call. Today at Computex they announced a new PCIe Enterprise SSD, the PCIe Lightning:

image001.jpg

This is a much simpler layout, with flash right alongside the controller - an option not possible with the multi-PCB Intel 910 Series as it contained much more flash on its daughter boards. With this simpler layout comes lower cost but unfortunately lower maximum capacities. Less complexity also means lower maximum specs, but they still look quite good given the price point this card will be filling:

  • Price: $1350 (200GB) / $2350 (400GB)
  • 4k 70/30 R/W split: 23,000 IOPS
  • Sequential Throughput: 425 MB/sec
  • Warranty: 5 Year
  • Endurance: 10 full-drive writes per day for warranty duration

I'm glad to see some good PCIe SSD competition cropping up - especially the bootable kind.

Full release after the break:

 

Take your SSD to work day

Subject: Storage | January 30, 2012 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: ssd, enterprise, eMLC, Samsung, SM825 400GB

Enterprise level storage has vastly different priorities than consumer grade storage as data that is lost is of a different level than lost pictures and home movie.  As precious as those memories are it is unlikely that family members will sue you or disown you because you lost their data, internal and external customers on the other hand are very likely to.  This places a large priority on reliability which must be considered even before the cost savings are considered.  For companies with large databases and numerous users connecting to them concurrently there is a huge time savings possible from introducing an SSD to the front end, but only if it can be guaranteed to be available and not down.

The SSD Review takes a look at Samsung's enterprise class SSD, the SM825 which has 400GB of eMLC flash storage which is rated at 7000TBW (terabytes written) before failure; consumer models are usually 60TBW.  When the SSD Review cracked the case and did some addition, they spotted 112GB being used for over-provisioning as well as four impressively sized capacitors for protection against power outages.  Check out the full review to see how it performs.

SSDR_SSD-Width.jpg

"In reviewing the Samsung SSD SM825 Data Center Edition 400GB eMLC solid state drive, we understand that we have wandered off the beaten path of normal consumer reviews but there are some things in this SSD that will just grab your attention. Although it’s interesting to see that Samsung has chosen its own premium eMLC NAND flash memory in the SM825, we believe that it is the total write endurance that truly stands out in this enterprise class SSD."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: SSD Review

OCZ Technology Launches Talos 2 Enterprise SAS 6G Solid State Drive

Subject: Storage | November 29, 2011 - 11:52 AM |
Tagged: ocz, talos 2, enterprise, ssd, sata 6Gbs

SAN JOSE, CA – November 29, 2011 - OCZ Technology Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:OCZ), a leading provider of high-performance solid-state drives (SSDs) for computing devices and systems, announces the Talos 2 Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) SSD Series, the follow-up to the high performance, high capacity Talos Series previously available only in a 3.5 inch form factor.

With capacities up to 1TB now available in a compact 2.5-inch form factor, Talos 2 offers increased I/O performance and scalability in enterprise storage environments. Talos 2 leverages OCZ Virtualized Controller Architecture 2.0 technology which implements an intelligent complex command queuing structure with unique queue balancing algorithms to provide exceptional performance. Talos 2 SSDs deliver superior random transactional performance at up to 70,000 4K IOPS and features improved mixed workload (75% read; 25% write) performance with up to 42,000 8K IOPS.

OCZ_Talos.jpg

You can bet these SSDs will not be the least expensive per gigabyte on the market

Unlike many SAS SSDs, the Talos Series is dual-ported to offer superior data integrity and increased performance, along with delivering a robust enterprise feature-set including DataWrite Assurance Protection in case of sudden power loss. Talos 2 also includes the option to enable T10-DIF (Data Integrity Field), allowing for the insertion of 8 bytes of additional data during transfers to ensure complete data integrity.

“The Talos 2 SAS solid state drives expand on the original series by offering enterprise customers superior performance, reliability, and density all in a compact footprint,” said Ryan Petersen, CEO of OCZ technology Group. “The Talos 2 enterprise SSDs are optimized for the most demanding storage systems and provide clients with an easy to deploy solution that vastly improves application performance over traditional SAS based HDDs.”

To address the complete spectrum of applications, Talos 2 SSDs are available in 100GB to 1TB capacities, in MLC, eMLC, and SLC NAND configurations. OCZ is now sampling Talos 2 to strategic customers and the drives will be made available to SMB and enterprise clients through OCZ's global business-to-business channel.

Hitachi Releases New Enterprise SSD Based On Intel's 25nm MLC HET NAND

Subject: Storage | August 9, 2011 - 09:10 PM |
Tagged: ssd, mlc, Intel, hitachi, enterprise

Hitachi recently released a new enterprise class SSD based on Intel's 25nm MLC flash.  Dubbed the Hitachi SSD400M, the new solid state drive is aimed at Enterprise users and Cloud data centers.  It comes in the standard 2.5" form factor, features a SAS 6Gb/s interface, and will be available in 200GB and 400GB capacities.

UltraStar_SSD400_4e3972f88e304.jpg

As an enterprise drive, the Hitachi SSD400M supports end to end data protection, error correction, error handling and self encryption on certain models compliant with the Trusted Computing Group’s Enterprise A Security Subsystem Class encryption specification.  Further showing it's intended usage as an Enterprise drive, the 25nm MLC based drive is rated for 7.3 Petabyte lifetime write, which Hitachi says amounts to 10 full drive writes per day for five years.  Coincidentally, the warranty of the drive is a five year limited warranty or until the drive exceeds the maximum rated number of petabyte writes per capacity.  Hitachi states that they expect a .44 annual failure rate and have projected a 2 million hour MTBF.

Performance of the drive is much better than that of the previously reported Intel drive, as it delivers 495MB/s sequential reads and 385MB/s sequential writes.  The SSD is further rated at 56,000 read IOPS and 24,000 write IOPS.

The SSD400M has already shipped to various OEMs and will be available soon.  More information on the new SSD can be found here.

Source: Hitachi

So... looks like Mozilla is a home-user company. Yep.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 25, 2011 - 02:09 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, enterprise

For enterprise users looking to introduce Firefox to their business: you may wish to reconsider. Businesses are notorious for being substantially behind in version numbers, occasionally (or a lot) trading even security for compatibility. Mozilla had a staggered release schedule: a minor version number was little more than a security update; a major version number was a fairly-large overhaul. Enterprise users were able to upgrade minor version numbers and be reasonably assured that compatibility would be maintained. There were no such assurances for a major version number, thus requiring rigorous testing before applying. Mozilla has ended their policy of supporting back versions with security updates and are also moving between full versions much more rapidly, causing dissension amongst enterprise users.

IE6.png

Moving the world forward, not backwards, and always twirling towards freedom.

Ed Bott took the opportunity to prod Mozilla during his Thursday evening column. He contends that shutting out enterprise will assist in the impending implosion of Firefox and allow Microsoft and Google to pick up the pieces. I seriously disagree with that statement and applaud Mozilla for staying focused on their goal. True, Mozilla will be vastly less attractive to the enterprise; however, if Microsoft did not have Windows and Office to push with Internet Explorer, would search ad revenue and donations cover the long-term development cost incurred supporting enterprise users? And really, I would have thought Ed Bott of all people (ok, except maybe Paul Thurrott) would respect a company that can make a decision like Mozilla just did and stick by it after covering Microsoft for so long.

Source: ZDNet

OCZ Technology Introduces Deneva 2 Series Of SSDs For The Enterprise

Subject: Storage | June 21, 2011 - 10:54 AM |
Tagged: ssd, sata 6Gps, sandforce, enterprise, deneva 2

SAN JOSE, CA—June 21, 2011—OCZ Technology Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:OCZ), a leading provider of high-performance solid-state drives (SSDs) for computing devices and systems, today launched the Deneva 2 SSD line for enterprise clients. Taking full advantage of the cutting-edge SATA 6Gb/s interface, Deneva 2 SSDs are designed for a wide range of enterprise applications including servers, cloud computing, and data centers. The Deneva 2 series delivers maximum performance while meeting the stringent reliability, security, performance and economical needs of enterprise storage environments.

"Data centers are one application where the speed benefits of a fast SSD visibly fall straight to a company's bottom line," said SSD analyst Jim Handy of Objective Analysis. "This has driven the enterprise to be the fastest-growing market for SSDs - Objective Analysis forecasts for enterprise SSD unit shipments to grow at an average annual rate of 83 percent, nearly doubling every year."

deneva1.jpg

As the demand for increased storage efficiency, maximized data throughput, and a smaller operating footprint broadens across various industries, more and more companies are turning to the benefits of SSDs to significantly optimize their storage infrastructures. With these requirements in mind, OCZ has been a pioneer in the design and development of SSDs for the enterprise environment, pushing the envelope to develop solutions that combine industry-leading performance with a robust feature-set. Deneva 2, the company’s latest offering, features several enterprise-critical options not available in OCZ's consumer product lines, including power loss data protection, best-in-class endurance (e.g., minimal write amplification, intelligent block management and wear-leveling), and advanced encryption and ECC.

“Processing data is critical to any business looking to compete in a rapidly changing, global marketplace. However, many enterprise organizations are limited by outdated storage solutions, which limits their ability to process the necessary data they require to operate their businesses,” said Ryan Petersen, CEO at OCZ Technology Group. “Deneva 2 SSDs are optimized for high-volume storage applications, offer industry-leading reliability, and leverage the latest NAND and controller technology to deliver superior performance. This combination means that enterprises can overcome previous roadblocks, and use their data in real-time.”

Based on SandForce® SF-2000 SSD processors, the Deneva 2 series delivers up to 80,000 4KB random write IOPS and 550MB/s of potential bandwidth. Along with world-renowned performance, Deneva 2 SSDs are specifically designed to deliver superior reliability and are manufactured with the latest flash components specific to the customer’s needs. In addition, the series includes enterprise-grade multi-level cell (eMLC) NAND flash technology, which offers improved endurance for write-intensive applications. Deneva 2 SSDs can also be customized, come in a wide variety of interface options including PCIe, and are available in 2.5, 3.5, and 1.8 inch form factors for use in very high density computing environments, including blade servers.

OCZ Deneva 2 solutions overcome the performance, durability, and maintenance obstacles inherent to mechanical HDD storage. OCZ's ability to provide a tailored solution ensures ultimate compatibility, reliability, and cost-savings, resulting in products that are optimized to specifically address the unique needs of enterprise clients.

Intel Enterprise SSDs Specifications

Subject: General Tech, Storage | June 16, 2011 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Intel, enterprise

Intel is currently in the process of releasing their 2011 lineup of solid state hard drives. A lot of news and products came out regarding their consumer 300-series and enthusiast 500-series line however it has been pretty silent regarding their enterprise 700-series products. That has changed recently with the release of specifications as a result of Anandtech’s coverage of the German hardware website ComputerBase.de.

11-intel.png

And how does it compare to OCZ?

Intel will be releasing two enterprise SSDs: the SATA 3 Gbps based 710 SSD codename Lyndonville and the PCI express 2.0 based 720 SSD codename Ramsdale. The SATA based 710 will feature 25nm MLC-HET flash at capacities of 100, 200, and 300 GB. The 710 will have read and write speeds of 270/210 MB/s with 35,000/3300 read and write IOPS at 4KB and a 64MB cache. The PCIe based 720 will feature 34nm SLC flash at capacities of 200 and 400 GB. The 720 will be substantially faster than the 710 with read and write speeds of 2200/1800 MB/s with 180,000/56,000 read and write IOPS at 4KB and a 512MB cache. On the security front the 710 will be encrypted with 128 bit AES encryption where the 720 will be encrypted with 256 bit AES.

While there has been no hint toward pricing of these drives Intel is still expected to make a second quarter release date for their SATA based 710 SSD. If you are looking for a PCI express SSD you will need to be a bit more patient as they are still expected to be released in the fourth quarter. It will be interesting to see how the Intel vs OCZ fight will play out in 2012 for dominance in the PCIe-based SSD space.

Source: Anandtech

OCZ Unviels New Talos SAS 6Gbps SSDs

Subject: General Tech, Storage | May 12, 2011 - 04:59 PM |
Tagged: ssd, SAS, ocz, enterprise

 

Talos_new_angle.jpg

 

OCZ Technology, a leading provider of Solid State Drives, today announced a new line of enterprise drives. The new Serial Attached SCSI SSDs differ from other enterprise offerings by using multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash memory instead of the faster single-level cell chips. Further, OCZ has included it's proprietary VCA (Virtualized Controller Architecture) technology, which provides enterprise customers with TRIM, SMART monitoring, native command queuing (NCQ), tagged command queuing (TCQ), power fail management, and wear-leveling.

Promising up to 64,000 4K IOPS and optimized specifically for enterprise level storage applications, the MLC based Talos drives deliver "advanced application performance, all the necessary enterprise features, and substantial power savings, at a better total cost of ownership." Further, the new Talos drives represent the highest capacity SAS 6Gbps drives available today.

The new drives will be available in both 3.5" and 2.5" form factors, and range from 200 GB to 960GB. They will soon be available to small-to-medium business (SMB) as well as enterprise customers through OCZ's business-to-business channel.