Embarking on all-flash storage journey – 5 tips to get you started

By Barun Lala, Director, Storage, HP India

Finding smarter and more efficient ways of managing data overload is now dominating investment decisions in technology departments across Asia Pacific and Japan. With the digital universe experiencing unprecedented digital growth of roughly 40 per cent a year data storage demand has never been more intense.

Coupled with the ever increasing expectations around “instant responsiveness” and always-on availability, many businesses are looking for a miracle solution to alleviate their storage burdens.

Enter flash-based storage solutions – particularly all-flash arrays. These are being heralded as the way of the future, critical to helping organizations stay ahead of the data onslaught and accelerating business critical applications. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, the percentage of data centers that will use only SSAs for primary data, instead of hybrid arrays, will increase from zero per cent today to 25 per cent.

However, many businesses across Asia have been hesitant to adopt all-flash solutions due to the perception of high costs and concerns about the reliability of all-flash storage technology.

The truth is that the cost of all-flash storage solutions is lower than ever before and performance has never been more robust. Ignoring the truth around all-flash storage means that you could be hampering your business’s ability to effectively manage data and power new workloads that drive innovation – thus giving your competition a head-start.

Debunking the cost and performance myths of all-flash storage

Concerns over the high cost and reliability of flash storage compared to hard disk drive (HDD) solutions have been key barriers to organizations embracing newer storage technologies. For many, the prevailing attitude has been to play it safe and stick with the proven – or use flash storage solely as point solutions.

But if you want to stay ahead of the competition you need to change your position quickly. Next-generation all-flash storage array architectures are now delivering greatly improved functionality and dependability – all at a lower price. Even IDC believes that any enterprise that still thinks flash is too expensive to deploy as its primary storage environment is doing itself a disfavor.

Higher performance levels are driving down the cost of all-flash storage to a competitive price point compared to HDD-storage arrays – in some cases to as little as US$1.50 per useable gigabyte of storage. Deduplication and data compaction technologies such as thin provisioning and granular allocation allows your investment to be stretched even further.

All-flash storage unlocks opportunities and powers business innovation

The primary benefit of flash storage is accelerated speed – extremely rapid data transfers at sub-millisecond latency. This opens up performance capability so your business can leverage new applications and workloads like real-time, predictive, big data analytics.

While speed is important, the value of all-flash storage technology goes far beyond this. It also opens the door to innovation by creating new capabilities for business processes and opportunities.

A high density, large capacity flash array can also reduce your organization’s storage footprint within your datacenter by as much as 80 percent, with flow-on reductions in power and cooling costs.

Five tips on getting started with all-flash storage

You might be asking yourself: “How do I choose the right all-flash solution for my business and where should I get started?”

With good planning, the switch to all-flash storage can be straightforward. The key is to identify an all-flash storage array that is architected to optimize flash’s performance while delivering the required level of mature data and storage management services.

Here are some simple steps to help you decide what’s right for your needs and start your all-flash transition:

  1. Look for an all-flash storage solution that offers a combination of speed, resiliency, affordability and scale:
  • Speed – Aim for high input/output operations per second (IOPS) at predictable response times under one millisecond to drive more revenue-generating transactions.
  • Resiliency – Insist on enterprise-class mission-critical availability with zero data loss recovery from backup storage. Arrays should be proven capable of 99.9999 per cent availability.
  • Affordability – Ensure there is price parity with high performance HDD.
  • Scale – Look for a flash storage system with petabyte scale to enable enterprise growth. The ability to scale is not always a given, but there is no point having the power of flash if future capacity is restricted.
  1. Once you’ve chosen the right all-flash storage platform, catalogue your workloads and applications. Identify those which have the strongest links to customer satisfaction and employee productivity.
  1. Prioritize these customer/employee-facing applications or workloads and move them to the all-flash platform first. Accelerating these workloads will have a positive impact on two important groups of users, and it provides confirmation to the business that all-flash storage really does work with both immediate and long-term impacts.
  1. Ensure that your all-flash storage solution integrates seamlessly into your existing data center infrastructure. If it doesn’t work together, you’ll find yourself with isolated storage silos and an inability to migrate valuable business data in or out.
  1. Anticipate future needs to predict the type of storage capacity your organization will require over the next 3-5 years. Ensure the potential solutions you investigate can meet these needs simply and affordably within the system you decide on from the outset.

The wait is over

Enterprises that have been agonizing over a shift to all-flash storage technology can relax and follow the above tips to start planning their transition with ease.

With the cost of all-flash storage arrays becoming more affordable, you can confidently invest in the latest flash storage platforms and start reaping immediate benefits of accelerated business performance.

All-flash systems are demonstrating proven reliability and can now be embraced by any company, regardless of size, budget, growth rate or quality of service requirements.

Investing in the right all-flash storage technology that is most relevant for your workloads will deliver scalable, flexible solutions that are reliable, efficient and easy to manage.

Ultimately, you’ll be able to focus on driving outcomes that matter to your business and use your storage infrastructure to open the door to innovation in today’s hyper-competitive environment.

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