The number one business driver for Flash Storage is speed. Often measured in IOPs – it’s speed which in turn translates to faster applications which then translates to better customer experience that has driven mass adoption of Flash Storage arrays.
Flash or Solid State Drives (SSD) are an incredible technology and the reality is that the advantages they deliver over spinning disks are numerous. In the correct scenarios, usually data intensive applications with high transaction volume, these advantages extend well beyond performance.
Ironically, many people equate Flash with high cost when compared to traditional HDDs. Price of Flash is coming down but like for like on a per GB basis, yes it may be more expensive. But enterprise disk has many more hard costs than just the price of the GB’s and TB’s. In this respect Flash really can deliver true economies.
The five key economies of Flash are:
Lower Hardware Requirements for the same workload. The efficiency of flash over HDDs can be startling. A workload that requires 200,000 IOPs per second can run across 10 SSDs. To achieve the same performance could require over 1000 HDDs. This in turn means that companies reduce the number of servers they connect to flash storage by as much as one third according to numerous studies.
Lower Power Consumption. Flash really is very “green”. Unlike traditional storage, it has no mechanical moving parts that require extra power. The hard cash saved on energy bills is not only compelling, it is an undisputable TCO saving. In addition, as Flash drives down hardware usage, this compounds energy saving further. Studies provide different figures, but we see calculations of savings on power bills in excess of $100,000 USD over a five-year period for systems provisioning around 100TB.
Software Licensing reductions – It stands to reason that if flash reduces the amount of server hardware a company needs, then the software licenses required per server will also reduce. In the case of companies like Dell EMC, they also build significant software functionality into their all flash arrays included in the cost of the array itself, eliminating the need for things like separate data protection software, hence reducing potential spend.
Reduced Floor Space – Flash is compact. Compared to traditional spinning disk the space savings are significant. Like for like, in terms of capacity, Flash arrays will typically fill around 50% of the rack space. Just saving a half rack in a typical Singapore datacentre will equate to savings of over $50,000 USD over a five-year period.
Reduced Administration Costs - It is estimated that storage administrators spend as much as one quarter of their time, performance tuning traditional HDD based arrays. Quite simply, you can expect that to go to zero once workloads are moved to all flash. The hard saving is difficult to quantify but the economies of reduced administration can manifest in many ways.
Flash really does drive bottom line efficiencies, but the implementation of Flash is also very important. Just putting flash into an array designed for traditional HDDs may not deliver all the benefits. The depth of management software is also a key factor. Companies like Dell EMC work hard on this, developing arrays designed from the ground up to leverage the benefits of flash. Dell EMC are a notable example even incorporating a software defined storage offering that integrates across their flash offerings in an effort to drive continued efficiency.