Steadfast Blog

Hostingcon 2009

Posted in Tech Events on July 16th, 2009

Hostingcon 2009 is less than a month away and I am hoping to see some of you there. The event is August 10-12 at the Gaylord National outside Washington, DC. If you haven't signed up yet, you can still use our discount code STEADFASTNETWORKS2009 to get $60 off a full conference pass, or lesser amounts for the other passes.

Right now, we don't have anything definite planned, but Kevin and I will be arriving Sunday afternoon, the 9th. If anyone wants to get together before the show starts, maybe we can put together a little "customer dinner" though I must say I am not familiar with the area around there.

If you're there, please stop by our booth, #225, and pick up a Steadfast Networks t-shirt, a Hostingcon tradition. We will also have a limited number of flex fit baseball hats available to customers/special guests.

POP Live in New York City

Posted in Networking on June 3rd, 2009

Our POP in New York City is now open for business!

We have now opened a POP in New York City, inside Switch and Data on the 15th floor of 111 8th, with fiber available to TelX. Currently, the POP is established to expand our peering footprint, we're currently actively peering at both PAIX New York and NYIIX, and to provide Internet transit services in the New York metro area.

For the future, we are planning to open backup, colocation and dedicated server services in the New York metro area. We will likely begin offering backup services and colocation services, shared colocation and full cabinets, in July and then dedicated server services would follow in August or September. Due to the higher costs in New York, for both space and power, our rates for colocation space and servers will be a little higher there.

If you have any questions about our new services in the New York area please contact our sales department.

Twitter?

Posted in Steadfast in the News on May 7th, 2009

OK, I have given in, and Steadfast Networks now has a Twitter account: http://twitter.com/steadfastnet

Now, I am completely new to Twitter, so give me some time to get used to this. I am planning to use the account only for useful information, such as new product offerings, general business changes/updates, any outage/maintenance information, etc. so don't expect multiple posts a day.

We have been offering the 32GB Intel X25-E Solid State Drive (SSD) for a couple months now ($60 a month each) and have been seeing a great response overall. Now, we have also started offering the 64GB Intel X25-E for $110 a month. There have been a few regularly asked questions about these drives, so I figured I'd get them answered in a single blog post here.

Q) What are the advantages of a SSD?

A) A SSD may not achieve much higher throughput (~200 MB/sec), but the throughput of a drive is never the real bottleneck in a server environment. On a standard SATA drive, the only time you will achieve the maximum throughput is on sequential reads or sequential writes, when the drive is reading a single large group of data. The issue is, on servers, you're going to be reading data from across the disks and doing both reading and writing operations. This is where the SSD serves a major advantage, as it will get you actual read/write latencies of ~0.1ms as opposed to ~12ms on 7200RPM SATA drives or ~6ms on 15k RPM SAS drives. This means the number of IO operations you can perform a second increases tremendously. As an example, in a standard database IO benchmark, the X25-E will perform ~5000 IO/sec while a 15k RPM SAS drive will max out at around 120 IO/sec.

Not only are these drives faster, but they are significantly more reliable. As the drives store the data on flash memory modules instead of on physical platters there is no mechanical motion, as you would have in a standard hard drive. There is no risk of any mechanical failure, such as a platter getting physically damaged, of a motor going out, etc. In addition, the drives use less power, and thus create less heat, decreasing the risk of heat related issues all around.

Q) Don't SSD's have a limited lifespan or decrease in performance as they get full?

Yes, they do have a set limited lifespan, as each block can only be written to a certain number of times. To help prevent this issue, there is logic built into the drive to spread out the writes and there are also additional blocks on the drive in excess of the rated drive capacity to be used in case certain blocks are reaching their limits, etc. With these measures, the 32GB X25-E drives we use would last 50 years if you wrote 100GB a day to them and the 64GB drives would last twice as long.

Regarding the decreasing performance, this is one of the reasons we selected the X25-E drives. Yes, it is true that most SSD's will decrease in speed as they reach 80-90% of their capacity, as there will be less blocks it is able to write to. Since the X25-E is an enterprise drive, it has the additional capacity, outside of the rated size, specifically for this use, and to increase longevity. You'll see in the benchmarks from Tom's Hardware, linked to below, that there is no speed decrease on the Intel X25-E as the drive fills up.

Q) Why should I spend the extra money on a SSD? They seem expensive.

Disk IO is generally one of the first bottlenecks you'll run into on a dedicated server if you're using it for any database based sites/services. As you can see from the above benchmarks, the IO/sec rate you'll get from a SSD is about 42 times higher than what you can expect from a 15k SAS drive. Now, even if you don't need that kind of performance, you would be looking at a significantly lower cost to get 2x 32GB SSDs in RAID 1 ($135 a month) than it would cost to get 6 15k RPM disks in RAID 10 ($230 a month) and would still achieve ~7 times higher disk IO. This higher disk IO may prevent you from needing to get an additional server or needing to re-engineer your applications, saving you significant time and money.

Now, one of the issues you may have is regarding the amount of disk space you need. In most cases, what you'll be looking to offload is database caused disk IO or some other specific application. In those cases, you can just have an SSD added to your system for that specific use, and not need to worry about running out of space for your other applications that may require additional disk space. In addition, if you do need more disk space, you can always put more SSDs into a RAID array.

Q) Why did you select the Intel X25-E drives when there are more affordable solid state drives available?

A) We had looked at a wide array of drives to offer, but the Intel X25-E stood out. The X25-E offers significantly faster random write speeds than any other SSD we tested. This then made the X25-E drives the best overall value for write intensive applications, such as MySQL databases, etc. In addition, the X25-E is specifically made as an enterprise drive, and has additional features to increase lifespan and reliability as were mentioned above. This combination of speed and reliability made the X25-E an easy choice.

For more information you can check out the Tom's Hardware article and review of the X25-E: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-x25-e-ssd,2158.html

If you have any additional question, please post them as a comment to this blog post, so we can share the answer with everyone.

Update: Tom's Hardware did a further review April 30th, comparing a couple additional solid state drives, and the results are pretty amazing: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/256gb-samsung-ssd,2265-9.html

IPv6 Now Available

Posted in Networking on March 26th, 2009

We now have full support for IPv6 for our dedicated server, Internet transit, and colocation customers. Our IPv6 network utilizes connectivity from nLayer, Hurricane Electric, and Atlantic Metro Communications along with our own local peering agreements. To test out our IPv6 network you can use our looking glass or access our web site, support site, and mirror server which are all IPv6 capable.

All dedicated server and colocation customers would be eligible to receive a /56 (2^72 IPs) in order to assign a /64 (2^64 IPs) per device. Colocation customers would be assigned the entire /56 at no charge, while dedicated server customers would get a /56 allocated on our side and then be assigned a /64 to each device as requested. For dedicated server customers, there would be a one-time $20 fee for each /64 to cover the time needed to setup and configure the IPv6 address space. Colocation and Internet transit customers doing their own switching/routing would be eligible to receive a /48 (2^80 IPs). To request your IPv6 address block, just contact our IPs department by emailing ips@steadfast.net or by using the IP Allocation department in the ticket system.

Note: We can offer IPv6 only VLANs for dedicated server, colocation, or Internet transit customers. We can offer reduced pricing over these VLANs to help encourage the overall use of IPv6. Just contact our sales department for details.

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