These performance and cost factors have been recognised in the industry, and we're now seeing flash go through the classic technology adoption curve as enterprises shift from 15K disk drives to flash for high performance applications. Flash will continue to become more affordable, with at least one industry analyst predicting that by 2017, the effective cost of deploying flash in the data centre will be lower than spinning disk and that cost benefit will increase rapidly over time.
But there's a catch. The affordability of flash is directly related to the use of in-line data reduction techniques like deduplication and compression. These techniques can easily provide compaction ratios of 4:1 to 6:1 and are the key to achieving the benefits of flash storage in the enterprise.
Unfortunately, data reduction is not a standard feature on many flash arrays - it's often provided either through an external appliance, which can increase cost, or through software, which can impact application performance. And when it comes to the third side of the triangle - resiliency and data services - most vendors can only dream of providing the massively parallel architectures and Tier-1 data services like transparent failover and synchronous/asynchronous replication that you've come to take for granted with spinning disk.
A Faster, Better, Cheaper Solution
If you know what you're looking for, you can find flash storage that meets all three criteria - faster, better, and cheaper. When shopping for flash storage, make sure you're getting the whole package. Look for flash arrays that provide:
- Scalability to the petabyte level
- High-density drives (3.84TB SSDs) to minimise floor space and power requirements
- Performance up to 1M+ IOPS at sub-millisecond latency for a fully loaded array
- A price point comparable to or lower than 15K spinning disk (as low as S$2.50/GB useable storage
- Hardware ASIC that offloads processing like deduplication and compression from servers/controllers, giving these components more bandwidth to perform their primary functions
- A mature and massively parallelized storage architecture that performs well under failure conditions and provides proven six-9s availability
- Tier-1 data services that guarantee resiliency
- Data protection that allows you to combine the best of snapshot replication with off-array backup and archival
- Storage federation that allows you to pool multiple flash arrays together
All of this adds up to a flash storage solution that gives you all of the features you're looking for without tradeoffs. It's a fact, not a myth. No more hard decisions about what to give up to get the performance of flash. Many vendors will try to sell you something less, but don't be fooled. You can have flash storage that provides the best in performance, affordability, AND resiliency and data services.
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