OCZ Readies New Flash SQL Accelerator

By Pedro Hernandez

OCZ is working on the release of an updated version of the company's ZD-XL SQL Accelerator solution, a flash-based storage product that boosts database performance under Microsoft's latest edition of SQL Server. In preparation, OCZ has kicked off a beta program for organizations that want to take the tech for a spin, particularly on production SQL Server data.

ZD-XL SQL Accelerator 1.5 is a combination of hardware and software that employs Z-Drive PCIe solid-state drives (SSDs) to speed up business applications, enabling snappy performance and responsive user experiences. It is backward compatible with SQL Server 2008 R2 and 2012, yet it is optimized for SQL Server 2014, which Microsoft released on April 1.

Among the features targeted at the new database platform is Buffer Pool Extension (BPE) support. BPE allows for faster access to database pages by loading them directly from flash, according to OCZ. The company also pledges tight SQL Server management integration, allowing database administrators (DBAs) to "enable acceleration at a per database level versus having to accelerate all of the databases files in the SQL Server instance."

ZD-XL 1.5 employs analytics and a "cache warm-up engine" to determine when SQL Server requires access to data and places it on flash, eliminating traditional disc storage bottlenecks. It is also compatible with VMware ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor, providing database acceleration services to SQL Server-based virtual machines.

ZD-XL 1.5 provides High Availability (HA) by tapping into Microsoft's AlwaysOn Technology to retain data and quickly resume operations in the event of downtime. DBAs can optimize their ZD-XL 1.5 implementations and configure their caching policies using a wizard-driven GUI. Remote flash caching allows rack and blade servers that run SQL Server, but can't accommodate PCIe SSDs, to benefit from the technology.

OCZ isn't the only data storage provider that leverages flash to give SQL Server workloads some added pep.

Last year, Violin Memory and Fujitsu Technology Solutions teamed up for joint Microsoft-certified SQL data warehouse products with 20 TB and 60 TB of SSD storage. In February, Tegile Systems, a Newark, Calif.-based flash data storage specialist, took the wraps off FlashVols, software that leverages DRAM and solid-state drives (SSDs) on the company's Zebi hybrid storage arrays to enhance performance.

OCZ is under new management. The struggling SSD maker was snapped up by Toshiba for $35 million during bankruptcy proceedings in December. The group now operates as a subsidiary called OCZ Storage Solutions.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

This article was originally published on April 11, 2014