Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My Image Mule

While attending SCU 2014 (at the Alamo in Denver) someone mentioned using SSD during their presentation and it brought up some conversations in our audience about using SSDs for deployment testing so I thought I would share what we use for our deployment testing. I fondly call these systems our 'Imaging Mules'. What takes over an hour on a fast desktop takes about 15 minutes. Much quicker time frames to test new scripts, wrappers, packages, etc.

For the hardware we took our design workstation standard at the time, a Dell Precision T3600, with 16GB memory, 1TB spindle, and i7 proc and made a few tweaks. We modified the spec by using a 2x250GB HDD RAID0 and removed the nVidia Quadro video card for the cheapest one Dell would put in it, but left it alone otherwise. The 2x250GB is the host OS volume (C) and is Windows 7, and is my primary system even. Once they arrived we bought a bunch of 120GB SSDs, 4 for each system. All the VMs (we use VMWare Workstation), live on a 4x120GB SATAIII SSD RAID0 volume (D). To mount them we obtained several of these adapters. They allow us to mount four 2.5" SSD drives in a 5.25" (optical) bay. The cheap fan died in a couple of them but they are not needed with SSD's so i just unplugged it. For the PERC H310 we had to get another cable to support the SATA drives.

Its pretty spanking fast. Doing some testing I got the following read speeds. These are raw reads and I did not perform any write tests unfortunately. If I have to rebuild that volume I'll do some RO and RW test and update this blog post. Taking over an hour deployment task sequence down to 15-20 minutes is enough results anyhow!

RO Speed Model Storage Configuration
142.5MB Dell Precision T3600 1TB Spinner
221.4MB Dell Precision T3600 2x250GB Spinners RAID0
1.7GB Dell Precision T3600 4x120GB SSD RAID0

The 1.7GB is from Samsumg 840 drives. We have some kingstons that gived 1.1GB read. I've had over a dozen VMs all deploying concurrently with little lag. Note that I'm just doing deployments so the 480GB volume is more then enough since we generally dont put user type data in them. Additionally for the host OS I moved TEMP, TMP, and swap to the SSD RAID0. All in all, you can build a super fast image testing box for deployment testing pretty reasonable.

I've since found an adapter that holds six drives and put that into my GENTOO server at home. 

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