Those businesses that can get over the preconceptions about cost and scalability are beginning to wake up to the potential of flash storage to improve business performance and create competitive advantage.
Since the 1960s, computing power has been on an exponential trajectory in performance, keeping pace with business needs neatly as ‘Moore’s law’, which effectively states that computing power doubles every 18 months or so, has held absolutely and irrefutably to be true. Storage, which is as essential to enterprise IT as computing power, has, however, held to a much slower performance improvement trajectory for the best part of two decades. Businesses have found, as their applications grow more demanding, that it has been harder and harder to get the storage piece to keep pace with the speedier compute capacity they install every year.
Imagine the following contexts: a financial services institution needs to clear a large number of payments in short order, or face regulatory fines. A social network needs to run real-time analytics on advertising effectiveness to remain competitive. A law firm needs to roll out virtual desktops to maintain confidentiality of data whilst enabling a mobile workforce and a bring-your-own-device strategy. All of these applications of enterprise IT face a serious and critical performance bottleneck in traditional disk-based storage, which simply can’t keep up with the volume of interactions called for by these applications within acceptable performance parameters.
Over the last year flash storage has emerged from use primarily in mobile devices and laptops to the corporate data center, where this burning need for faster storage systems has long been felt. While racks, or arrays, of traditional disk drives are still by far the dominant storage media in the data center, the use of flash continues to grow.
However, preconceptions over the historically high cost, apprehension about its scalability and the lack of a track-record of reliability for first-generation all-flash appliances occasionally raise undue concerns with finance chiefs and technologists. Here we debunk three Flash myths that every forward-looking CIO should be aware of:
Myth one - Flash costs more
The absolute cost of flash storage has been coming down, significantly over the last few years that makes the relative cost per TB of storage more attractive than ever in a Flash vs. traditional array
Flash arrays have a higher performance throughput, which allows you to use fewer arrays to manage the same workloads, especially when you run sophisticated in-line (with no performance impact) data reduction technologies which identifies and removes unnecessary multiple copies of the same information. Traditional disk doesn’t have the performance to run this sort of de-duplication software in real-time so you need more capacity to support the same amount of data.
Additionally, as workload capacities demand higher throughput rates (measured in inputs/outputs per second or IOPS), many enterprises are finding their workloads are perfectly positioned for flash's cost-to-performance ratio.
As well as reducing the need for storage over provisioning, Flash-based SSDs require much less power, cooling and physical space than HDDs, especially once you’ve run de-duplication and installed less capacity to begin with. With power in the data centre usually in the top three IT operating costs, alongside people costs and datacentre space, any reduction in these generates significant savings to the business. Hitting all of them at once, as you can with Flash, brings manifold returns.
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