About Hardware-Based Solutions

Hardware-based solutions are typically implemented by using RAID (redundant array of independent disks) levels 0, 1, 3, and 5. Hardware-based RAID uses an intelligent drive controller and a redundant array of disk drives to help protect against data loss in case of media failure and to improve the performance of read and write operations. A disk array is an effective disk-storage solution for computers that are running SQL Server.

Hardware-based RAID levels 1 through 5 automate redundancy and fault tolerance at the hardware level. All levels, 0 through 5, incur no overhead on the system processor. Individual data files are typically spread across more than one disk. You can implement a hardware-based RAID solution that provides a system with seamless, nonstop recovery from media failure.

Generally, hardware-based RAID offers performance advantages over Windows 2000 and later software-based RAID. For example, you can significantly improve data throughput by implementing RAID 5 through hardware that does not use system software resources. This is done by using more disks at a particular capacity than in a conventional storage solution. Read-and-write performance and total storage size can be improved even more by using multiple controllers.

Depending on the configuration, hardware-based RAID generally provides good performance. Hardware-based RAID also makes it much easier to manage multiple disks. This lets you treat an array of disks as one disk. You might even be able to replace a failed drive without shutting down the system. A disadvantage of a hardware-based solution is cost. You might also be dependent upon one vendor.

For more information about how to implement hardware-based RAID, contact the hardware vendor.