IDC predicts that the world’s data will grow by 50x in the next decade. At the same time businesses require more performance, more resilience and efficiency, driven by new technologies in the shape of cloud solutions, virtualisation and Big Data. Storage, however, is the underpinning factor.
Traditionally, disk has been the preferred common storage media, offering relatively good performance at a price point that is affordable for many, whilst tape has generally been used for the back-up of data, but this is changing. Today’s enterprises are looking more towards the benefits of flash for performance.
Flash storage is revolutionising the enterprise data centre. The common misconception is that flash is unaffordable, however, it offers unmatched performance that is especially critical in today’s evolving IT environment. The emergence of trends such as BYOD, virtual desktops, consolidated environments and databases have increased the demands on IT.
Businesses have been tempted to use a tiered approach, combining Solid State Disks (SSD) with Hard Disk Drives (HDD) to try to achieve the performance at a lower cost. However, even in 2011, Forrester proposed skipping tiering between SSDs and disks and going straight to all-flash storage.
The problem with tiering is it’s difficult to get the consistent and predictable performance you require for a business application when flash operations take a sub-millisecond and disk can take up to tens of milliseconds. The combination just doesn’t work. When customers or employees are waiting for the result in real-time, only being able to offer flash performance at 50%, 75% or even 95% does not provide the consistent performance that users deserve.
Enterprise storage systems cannot simply be adapted from disk to flash; all-flash arrays have to be designed from the ground-up for enterprise in order to deliver the reliability, serviceability and performance expected by flash, and the simplicity to implement and manage it. Architectures that leverage consumer grade flash need to be hardened so that the flash can cope with enterprise workloads.
This can be achieved by using purpose built software to make all-flash storage more reliable and within the reach of businesses of all sizes. Although all-flash is more expensive to buy raw than disk, through deduplication, compression and other data reduction techniques, flash storage can cost less to buy and manage.
With the 5-10X deduplication and compression ratios achievable today for VDI, virtualisation, database and enterprise workloads, flash storage is fast becoming available at below the price per useable gigabyte that enterprises have been paying for disk arrays.
There are also long term savings associated with all-flash arrays. Now costing less to operate and maintain than disk arrays. By installing all-flash arrays, businesses can reduce their OPEX costs by lowering electricity consumption while also optimising power, cooling and requiring a considerably less datacentre space for the array. Flash array capacity can also be expanded easily and routine upgrades performed non-disruptively, without downtime and, unlike disk arrays, without any degradation in performance.
Flash can now be adopted across the data centre to suit all budgets, all workloads and all IT departments. The business benefits are clear; it enables businesses to analyse more data, process more transactions, accelerate applications and services with associated incremental potential business revenues, all at a competitive price to disk. It delivers an exceptional experience for everyone – regardless of size or industry, providing a competitive advantage. 2013 is the tipping point for businesses to speed up their IT infrastructure and increase productivity.