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Rapid Enterprise Flash Growth

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Rapid Enterprise Flash Growth

Flash-based SSDs are certainly not new, but their presence in the datacenter is increasing at a rapid pace. Enterprise revenues for SSDs two years ago were $592 million. They're now on pace to top $3.5 billion by 2016, according to a report by Objective Analysis. That's a hefty 43 percent compounded annual growth rate.

The vastly improved performance of flash over disk comes from lower latency and the ability of SSDs to transact many times more IOPS ( Input/Output Operations Per Second) than possible on disks, which are bound by the physics of the spinning mechanical drives. Most experts say flash storage performs 10 times faster than traditional hard drives found in servers and storage arrays.

 

Recently HGST (formerly Hitachi Global Storage Technologies), a well known  producer of enterprise storage solutions, started shipping a milestone in Storage Innovation. A disc sealed with Helium, the Ultrastar He6, first announced in November 2013.

Until recently, if you had a SQL Server application in an OLTP or business intelligence/big data analytics environment that needed more performance, you would add more drives or stripe volumes across more spindles. But given the smallest drives are now 300GB, you can end up adding terabytes of capacity via a slew of drives you don't need just to boost performance. Because many database and Web applications need performance but might not require tremendous capacity, flash drives have become more viable.

As the cost of flash technology comes down, it will become feasible to run more applications on SSDs, a startup that offers SSD arrays with software designed to optimise the use of enterprise applications using flash storage. The general feeling is that as costs come down and densities go up, they are going to be used everywhere.

It is reported that flash drives are coming down in price at a rate of 30 percent per year and although already much less-expensive HDD prices are falling by about 20 percent annually.

Back-end flash storage is also suited for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) implementations, where the ability to boot from an SSD on a server can mean faster startup and access to data.

 

The Need for Speed

Disk drive capacity has grown exponentially in recent years, but disk drive speed hasn't increased. Today a typical server processor can read data out of main memory at 100 nanoseconds, while it takes about 500,000 times that long to read data off the disk. But utilising flash (SSD) that gap is greatly reduced to only 1,000 times slower.

Another factor that's making flash-based SSDs an attractive option to a growing number of users who need faster performance is that they continue to drop in price. Still, they're more expensive than hard disk drives (HDDs). As a result, a growing number of organisations are using hybrid SSD-HDD combinations with software to intelligently cache and put hot data on the much higher performing SSDs, leaving cold data on the hard drives. As hot data becomes cold or vice versa, the software moves the data to the appropriate media.

Hosting facilities, cloud services providers are using flash storage to enhance performance, including Amazon.com Inc., Google Inc., Microsoft and even Facebook Inc. Many large banks, financial services and trading firms have little trouble affording or justifying the addition of flash storage to boost performance. At the same time, the media most commonly associated with the storage on USB’s, smart-phones, tablets and digital cameras is finding its way into mainstream IT enviroments.

 

SSD

A solid-state drive (also known as a solid-state disk though it contains no actual disk, nor a drive motor to spin a disk) is a data storage device that uses integrated circuit assemblies as memory to store data persistently.

OLTP

Online transaction processing, is a class of information systems that facilitate and manage transaction-oriented applications, typically for data entry and retrieval transaction processing.

IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second, pronounced eye-ops) is a common performance measurement used to benchmark computer storage devices like hard disk drives (HDD), solid state drives (SSD), and storage area networks (SAN).

 

Request For Proposal - RFP

A type of bidding solicitation in which a company or organization announces that funding is available for a particular project or program, and companies can place bids for the project's completion. The Request For Proposal (RFP) outlines the bidding process and contract terms, and provides guidance on how the bid should be formatted and presented. A RFP is typically open to a wide range of bidders, creating open competition between companies looking for work.