Which Flavor of Flash Is Right for You?

Ask the Right Questions to Find the Right Solutions

Kurt Hildebrand

IT faces a number of competing storage priorities: increasing capacity, enhancing performance, and continuously driving down the cost per gigabyte. When using traditional spinning magnetic disk storage technology, these demands are difficult to meet.

Flash storage may provide a better balance of capacity, performance, and cost. That may be why IDC sees flash outpacing growth of traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), with enterprise solid-state drive (SSD) shipments expected to increase more than 75% annually.

If performance were the sole criteria, flash would be the preferred choice. Conversely, if capacity or cost is the top criterion, flash would take a back seat to HDDs. But the cost difference between flash storage drives and HDDs is narrowing, which will drive more flash storage deployments.

When selecting the flavor of flash to deploy, IT should align flash storage to the appropriate workloads. Flash storage uses about 20% of the power that HDDs consume and reads about 100 times faster than traditional storage drives. The advantages of flash storage become obvious for constantly used, read-centric workloads such as databases. However, flash has slower write speeds and a limited write lifecycle, so HDDs remain preferable for write-heavy applications.

Flash arrays are also ideal for applications that don’t require high capacity but require high performance levels, such as desktop virtualization deployments. Deployments of big data and in-memory analytics are also driving flash implementations.

Another flavor that is extremely popular is a hybrid flash array where a small number of high-performance flash disks are paired with cost-effective, high-capacity spinning disks and storage software. The end result is a storage solution that delivers high performance and high capacity at a lower cost per I/O and per gigabyte stored than traditional arrays.

Hybrid flash arrays leverage existing spinning drive storage platforms while allowing the enterprise to cost-effectively add flash arrays to support the performance demands of critical applications. Hybrid flash arrays are a good fit for applications that require both high capacity and fast performance, such as online transaction processing and data warehousing applications.

This best-of-both-worlds approach allows the enterprise to plan deployments to increase both capacity and performance while effectively managing costs.

For more flash array deployment information, listen to the podcast Flash Versus Traditional Storage.

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