When does it make sense to look at SSD, flash or even software for your storage needs? If you had asked that question a few years ago, all but a few companies would have shrugged. Now, with the rise in popularity of both hybrid and all flash array options, even midsize companies can take advantage of this evolving technology. SSD and flash have become cheaper and less expensive to deploy, and the adoption rate of these technologies is increasing.
Most of the businesses that we speak to are looking to increase I/O performance of specific applications, rather than their entire data set and will often use a tiering approach. A hybrid array with a mix of both fast SSDs and large capacity HDDs give them the performance they need without breaking the bank. There are things to watch out for. Consider the pros and cons before adopting a solution.
Pros: Inexpensive, Lots of Capacity, Highly Available
Cons: Slow Performance and Data Transfer, High Maintenance
Pros: High Performance & Data Transfer, Durability, Growing Market, Optimized Read/Write Cycles, Longevity
Cons: Still Costly, May Limit Capacity
Pros: Hardware Independent, Simplified Management, Low Ongoing Costs, High Performance
Cons: Still Emerging Technology, May Require More Infrastructure
Pros: Simple Design, Decreased Administrative Costs, Customization
Cons: Can Be Inflexible, Possible Organizational Challenges
Beware of a direct comparison of the cost per TB between disk and flash; the best vendors close the gap through deduping the data and compressing the overall storage footprint. For those businesses that are supporting high demand application(s), an all flash array with its faster networking and deduplication features can make the additional expense pay off in performance. The latest development vying for our attention is software defined storage, where the tasks traditionally handled by the physical array are being handed over to the virtualization software. This separation can offer IT managers better control over provisioning and storage management. Finally, the new hyper-converged systems that combine the networking, storage and server resources, are making the solution more efficient and more appliance-like.
While spinning disk is unlikely to disappear anytime soon, newer technologies hold out the promise of a more efficient handling of the explosive data growth that challenges us all.