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Flash mobs: is Flash the answer to the storage “blame matrix”?

27 Mar 2014

The greatest innovation in the storage space over the past few years is in Flash.

In the fast-paced competitive environment of business today, Flash is one of the key technologies organisations are taking notice of.

They are recognising that there are countless ways to use it, from all-Flash to hybrid Flash, server-based Flash and more, and are looking at their options for performance, reliability and scalability.

So why is Flash adoption on the rise? It all comes down to performance, speed and latency.

Hard disk drives have an inherent latency that results in a low "perceived performance" of applications by the end user. Meanwhile, Flash offers roughly 32 times greater performance than spinning disk, so not only do applications run better, but significantly less hardware is needed.

Flash is more expensive to buy for a given capacity than hard disks, but it is much more cost effective per operation; whilst one standard hard disk drive can achieve around 180 operations per second, a Flash drive can achieve around 6000-7000.

Not every business needs Flash, but there are a many situations that make it an economically viable idea. The most common of these is when every possible cause for a “problem app” has been eliminated, except for the storage array.

In other words, when IT has come to the bottom of the blame matrix, and the finger is pointed squarely at storage.

With computing power increasing drastically year-on-year, many businesses are finding themselves in this position as their storage solutions are completely consumed performance-wise.

As cloud solutions take over, a common theme businesses are grappling with is whether storage array is needed anymore.

However, as many savvy infrastructure managers are realising, even in the magical new world of the cloud, onsite IT infrastructure will still be crucial.

The closer data is to our devices, the better the performance, so cloud-integrated, flash-accelerated solutions are increasingly becoming the dominant vision.

By Matt Swinbourne, systems engineering manager, NetApp

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