Hybrid storage is the most popular method for enterprises to deploy flash storage technology. In a survey of IT professionals last year by 451 Research, more than one-third of respondents (37%) reported implementing flash storage alongside disk arrays, compared to 18% who have adopted server-side flash and only 6% who use expensive all-flash arrays.
The growing popularity of hybrid storage is based on several factors, including relatively low cost, ease of deployment and maintenance, and low energy consumption.
More importantly, hybrid storage allows enterprises to enjoy both the superior performance of solid-state flash and the vast storage capacity of hard disks. An intelligently implemented hybrid storage system will use the faster solid-state flash drives to cache frequently accessed data, relegating less-used data to the slower, spinning hard-disk drives.
Not only does hybrid storage improve data retrieval speed by enabling enterprises to allocate workloads to the appropriate storage arrays, it can reduce errors common to overloaded systems. Further, some hybrid storage systems offer data protection through snapshots and data replication within the array.
For all its advantages, hybrid storage doesn't offer limitless performance or scaling capabilities, so it's important for IT pros to get a reality check on how effectively the planned hybrid system can handle potential application workloads.
By creating and testing a workload model that accurately reflects a data center's current infrastructure as well as its storage traffic peaks and patterns, enterprises can gauge the impact on their infrastructures of various hardware and software combinations. A detailed and realistic workload model that is run through every possible storage scenario and combination enables enterprise professionals to make informed decisions regarding how to deploy flash storage in a hybrid environment.
Until all-flash storage arrays dramatically fall in price, hybrid storage remains an attractive option for enterprises seeking the advantages of flash storage at a reasonable cost.
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