Skip to content
Home > Blog > The Parallel Puzzles of Choosing Car Tires and Server SSDs

The Parallel Puzzles of Choosing Car Tires and Server SSDs

Recently, I had the “pleasure” of replacing the tires on 2 cars in the same month. Dang, tires have gotten expensive!

As I looked through the options, it was awfully challenging to find any significant differentiation among the various brands and models of tires. Sure, there was clearly the “low cost” version that had the lowest tread life and ratings on other metrics like stopping distance, traction in wet/icy conditions, road noise, and fuel economy (a choice that I might have considered had I planned on getting rid of either car in the near future). But, after eliminating that choice, the rest were a mixed bag and not highly distinguished from each other… single digit percentage variations in fuel economy, no clear correlation between tread life (50k-80k mi warranty) and price or other metrics. Also, no real clear connection between the features and how they would really change my driving experience (what’s the difference between Four Stars and Five Stars on road noise? Will I even notice? Does it only matter on highways?). This experience got me thinking about the challenges IT buyers face in choosing SSDs for their servers or if their choice even matters!

server ssds

When we think about cars and servers, our attention often gravitates towards the more obvious features – the horsepower of a car or the CPU of a server. However, just as tires are critical yet overlooked components of a car, Solid State Drives (SSDs) play a similarly underappreciated role in servers. Both are essential for optimal performance, yet their significance is often overshadowed by more prominent features.

Imagine a car as your server, and the SSDs as its tires. When buying a car, most people don’t consider the choice of tires; they simply accept whatever comes with the vehicle. The same goes for SSDs in servers. They are there, performing their vital function, but seldom are they the deciding factor in the purchase.  For a new car, the manufacturer chooses the tire brand; for servers, the server vendor often chooses the SSD brand.

This method can lead to missed opportunities for enhanced performance, higher efficiency, better sustainability and total cost of ownership.

Many drivers replace their cars long before they (or their tires) wear out, often due to lifestyle changes, desires for new features, or the end of a warranty. With this new car comes a new set of tires, often without much thought.

The world of servers mirrors this behavior. Existing servers might still function perfectly, but the need for more power, capacity, or modern features leads to purchasing entirely new systems, complete with new SSDs. The old, still-functioning components are cast aside, not because they failed, but because they’re part of a system that’s being upgraded as a whole.

There are several reasons why individuals might not think about their tires or SSDs:

  • Infrequent use: Just as some drivers don’t drive often, some server users might not demand high performance from their SSDs.
  • Regular upgrades: Frequent changes in cars or servers mean never having to worry about tire or SSD replacement.
  • Perceived lack of difference: For many, the subtle differences in tire brands or SSD performance don’t justify the cost or the effort to understand the differences, especially when only purchasing for one vehicle or server.
  • Lack of knowledge or lack of clarity around the benefits: Without understanding of the potential gains in efficiency or performance, there’s little motivation to research or invest in better tires or SSDs.

However, there are scenarios where the choice of tires or SSDs becomes significant:

  • High utilization: Just like a driver covering 100,000 miles a year would care deeply about tire quality and performance, highly-utilized servers needing the best application performance, lowest latency, high numbers of users, or guaranteed SLAs will need SSDs that are up to the challenge.
  • Specific needs: Formula-1 race car drivers and Delivery Van drivers have different needs, just as servers with specific workloads need SSDs optimized for those tasks.  Can you imagine a race car driver trying to handle those turns with ordinary street tires? Yikes!
  • Fleet vs Individual scale: For a personal vehicle, 10% additional fuel economy is nice, but unlikely to make a significant difference.  For a fleet of 100s or 1000s of delivery vehicles, an extra 10% fuel economy adds up to a significant chunk of operational costs.  Similarly, a few percentage points of power or cost efficiency may not be critical for deployments of a handful of servers but can really add up when deploying at the row and datacenter scale.
  • When there is a truly differentiated product: If one of those tire offerings had offered a 50% improvement in fuel economy while also hitting five stars on traction, road noise, stopping distance, and tread life all at a price near the other “premium” options, that would’ve been a game changer.  What if there were an enterprise SSD that could help you double the performance and efficiency of your server, handle your heaviest workloads, extend the useful life of your system all while reducing your costs of storing data?

This is where products like ScaleFlux SSDs make their mark. They significantly improve server performance and efficiency through an innovative SSD controller and flash management architecture that ScaleFlux developed, tested and hardened over the last 10 years. For those managing fleets of vehicles or servers, or those who rely heavily on their car or digital infrastructure, choosing the right component becomes a game-changer. The benefits of superior SSDs, like 2x speed, 9x durability, and 3x effective capacity, can be the difference between struggling with SLAs and sleeping through the night.

In essence, while tires and SSDs might not be the first thing on our minds when we think of cars and servers, your choice can matter.

If you want to drive your Formula-1 Racer only in school zones at 15mph, your tires probably won’t matter.  If however, you want to win at Le Mans, your tire selection will make a world of difference! 

Same goes for servers, if you don’t want to or need to get high performance or high efficiency out of those expensive CPUs, GPUs, and Memory, just take the commodity drives.  If, however, you’re looking for more, take a closer look at what a better SSD can do for you.

JB Baker

JB Baker

JB Baker is a successful technology business leader with a 25+ year track record of driving top and bottom line growth through new products for enterprise and data center storage. He joined ScaleFlux in 2018 to lead Product Planning & Marketing as we expand the capabilities of Computational Storage and its adoption in the marketplace.