Flash Storage FAQ

The Top 5 Questions about the Latest in Storage Technology

Kurt Hildebrand

Traditional forms of data storage are proving increasingly inadequate as data grow at exponential rates and enterprises seek to mine digital information in real-time to gain competitive and operational benefits.

Flash storage is emerging as an attractive storage medium for enterprises that have high-performance computing requirements. Databases requiring high-speed access, virtual desktop infrastructures (VDIs), and cloud-based Web 2.0 applications all are excellent candidates for flash technology.

As is always the case with emerging technologies, there are many questions surrounding flash storage for the enterprise. Here are five of the most frequently asked questions about flash.

1. How does flash storage work?

Flash is a form of solid-state storage, with data stored electronically and residing on silicon microchips, unlike spinning hard disk drives or tape storage, on which data is stored magnetically. Data on flash drives can be accessed via a flash controller.

2. What are the benefits of flash storage?

Because flash storage has no moving parts, it can retrieve and read data much faster than mechanical hard drives. In addition, flash consumes much less power than spinning disk drives and requires less physical space. Flash storage also is less prone to breakdowns and is easier to service.

3. Is flash storage expensive?

It depends on how you measure cost. On a dollar per gigabyte basis ($/GB), flash is much more expensive than HDDs, though flash prices continue to drop. But if you measure cost in terms of a performance-related metric such as IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second), flash delivers better value for your storage dollars.

4. How can flash be deployed in the enterprise?

Flash is a flexible technology that can be used in a number of ways within an IT architecture. Flash storage can be server-based, which results in the lowest level of latency because it’s close to the data, or it can reside in the network, where it can serve as a cache for applications requiring greater server flash capacity.

And while some enterprises may choose to go with all-flash storage arrays, it’s more common for flash to be used as part of a hybrid storage solution that also deploys HDD and/or magnetic tape.

5. How do I know if flash is right for my enterprise’s storage needs?

IT decision makers must consider the unique storage needs of their enterprises before deciding whether and how to deploy flash arrays. Working with an experienced enterprise storage consultant can help IT pros develop an effective flash storage strategy.

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