At the beginning of the year we mentioned several initiatives we’ve been working on to improve overall (gs) performance. Last month we told you about email performance improvements. Today we’re happy to tell you about ongoing storage improvements we’ve made that have improved overall web response times across the Grid.

For the last couple months we’ve been quietly enhancing the (gs) storage infrastructure with the addition of a caching layer built with extremely high speed Solid State drives. We’re about 80% complete with this work and happy to tell you that Grid Clusters with this new enhancement are reporting 25% speed increase for average web response.

As you can see above, storage segments using SSDs are responding faster. The graph shown here compares web response times from three (gs) storage segments with SSDs to three without. Before installation, trial storage performed roughly the same as other segments. As SSDs were added, response times decreased and settled around 25% faster than the rest.

This is a notable improvement, but just one enhancement in ongoing improvements we’re continuing to implement across the (gs) storage architecture.

What is a Solid State Drive?

Put simply, it’s a storage drive that has no moving parts. No spinning disks mean significantly faster data access times, though they generally can’t hold as much data as traditional disk. The speediness of SSD’s make them a perfect fit for a caching layer, where speed is of the utmost importance.

Why is Caching Important?

Good caching tends to make a big difference in a large, clustered environments like the (gs), because the most ‘popular’ data is what tends to slow down the traditional disks leading to increased response times. With a fast cache layer in place, the popular data comes directly from cache, taking the load off the rest of the storage system which leads to overall speed increases for all users.

Does this apply to my site yet?

Right now all customers on clusters 3, 4, 7 ,8 and 9 are using SSDs and work has started on clusters 1 and 6, with 2 and 5 scheduled immediately after. Upgrades are scheduled for upcoming normal maintenance windows to make the transition as convenient as possible. To find out which cluster your (gs) resides on, log in to the AccountCenter and click on your Server Guide from your grid control panel.

Ongoing Improvements

We’re happy with the results from SSDs and the Dovecot email rollout , but we’re not stopping there. We’ve recently started increasing the physical RAM across all (gs) nodes, and we’ll be reporting on that as it gets closer to completion.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave any comments below and join the discussion in the User Forums.