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Experts make enterprise flash technology predictions

17/12/2014 by Sharon Shahzad


Technologists and industry analysts predict enterprise-flash adoption will increase as new, cheaper and denser technologies emerge to help drive down costs.

Flash storage is a mainstream option, and its use will continue to escalate for active data as costs continue to drop.

"There really is no longer much, if any, debate about the inherent value and desirability or even relative reliability and longevity of flash," said Mark Peters, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). "Instead the questions are now about the type, speed and extent of adoption. Simply put, it is not if flash will be adopted, but where and how soon."

New ESG end-user research showed flash storage is becoming widely understood and almost unanimously seen to be good and to represent the future. But, most of the surveyed organizations said they use flash storage only as a point solution where absolutely needed, and not as a storage tier.

"The only thing holding flash back from broader adoption is cost," Peters said.

Flash predictions: Adoption, pricing

David Floyer, CTO and co-founder, Wikibon: For active data, the disk drive in 2015 is fundamentally dead. The vast majority of active data is going to be on flash over the next five years. Flash has reached a critical point where it's cheaper for active data. The price is going to go down because there's lots of volume driven by consumer demand for mobile devices, thumb drives, and cameras. 3D NAND is in place. It's going to happen. The investment is being made in it. And each generation is going to be denser, cheaper and faster.

Jeff Janukowicz, research director, International Data Corp. (IDC): There is no doubt that flash is transforming the storage landscape. In 2015, we expect flash shipping into the enterprise to continue to outpace HDD growth, with enterprise SSD capacity shipped expected to increase by more than 75% year over year. Much of the growth will be attributed to pent-up demand for higher performance, lower latency solutions and lower prices, which will enable customers to leverage more flash in hybrid storage arrays, all-flash arrays, and directly attached to servers.

Tim Stammers, senior analyst, 451 Research LLC: Data center use of flash in all forms will increase, with adoption of all-flash arrays showing the fastest growth. The main reason will be the falling cost of flash. On a per-GB basis, enterprise flash drive prices fell hugely between 2012 and 2014, and a large reason for that was the move from SLC to MLC and consumer-grade MLC. That transition is in its end stages, which means that we may not see such steep price falls during 2015. But, increasing density of raw flash chips will help keep prices pointed downwards, and we will see enterprise flash products based on 3-D flash -- the next evolution of flash chip architecture -- keep per-GB prices falling.

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