Flash storage arrival has taken away the glitz and glamour of hard drives in storage world and it’s for a reason. That’s because flash is not only fast, but with costs coming tumbling down, the situation has arrived where enterprises are questioning themselves on what they’ll lose if they don’t use flash in their IT environments.
Strategically speaking, SSD based storage perfectly fits all those environments where time is money. This includes transaction processing applications and real time business analytics, where the faster-one identifies a trend and capitalizes on it, the more competitive his/her business will be.
Going with technical terms, Flash is a type of nonvolatile memory used by solid state drives, a technology that, like a hard drive, stores data persistently. The primary difference between the two media is that an SSD contains no moving parts, resulting in much faster read-write performance.
Enterprise data centers have relied for several decades on spinning disks such as HDDs, and that’s for good reason. Over the years, HDDs which are being offered by big vendors have grown in capacity and reliability, while keeping price point under check. That’s why they’re still the physical media most commonly used to store data today.
But when it comes to performance, HDD functions remain in silos. And that’s where flash came in, and has proved as a fundamental game changer from a performance standpoint.
Performance is where flash soars
Data Center administrators leverage flash memory in three primary ways. They use hybrid storage arrays comprising HDDs and SSDs, all-flash arrays, and server side flash.
For dynamic and often unpredictable data center workloads, storage media that delivers extremely fast response will be needed. Applications that require thousands of operations per second can’t rely solely on spinning disks. This is where flash storage implementation is spiking.
Decision makers in IT environments might question themselves that why flash arrays aren’t deployed for every storage need? The first reason is that SSDs cost roughly 10 times as much as HDDs. Then there’s question of durability. Flash device can handle only limited number of program-erase cycles, before they degrade to a point that they’re no longer usable.
Therefore, all-flash arrays are hit in the market, where enterprises with mission-critical, performance starved applications are on rise.
However, using these arrays for every application is not recommended. Applications which need better performance, more IOPS, better throughput rates or lower latency are apt for flash arrays. For many other environments, hybrid storage arrays offer excellent performance at a lower cost.
If only read performance is needed, using flash read cache devices can prove helpful. Cache is inserted into the storage controller PCI Express slots and immediate improvements in IOPS, throughput and response time can be observed. Also when combined with deduplication, flash cache helps organizations avoid boot storms, which usually occur at expected times of day, often associated with technologies such as virtual desktop infrastructure.
Therefore the use cases of flash are
- Online transaction processing databases- These include high performance financial applications, where response time is critical.
- Virtual servers- The greater density of these servers hampers spinning disk drives.
- VDI- This technology requires supporting numerous desktops on a single server.
- Big Data- The analysis of large quantities of unstructured data benefits from the speed of flash storage.
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