Innovation Through Infrastructure

May 3 2017   3:08PM GMT

The real cost of flash storage…and the higher cost of not using flash

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

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flash storage

Flash storage is rapidly displacing spinning disk drives for primary applications. IDC says 76% of enterprises plan to move more primary storage workloads into All Flash storage as legacy platforms come up for technology refresh.[1] 451 Research says almost 90% of organizations now have flash storage in their data centers while All Flash approaches “are becoming increasingly standard to support transactional applications.”[2]

Performance, of course, has been the main driver of the All Flash market. All Flash storage delivers orders-of-magnitude greater IOPS performance than spinning disks. With All Flash storage, organizations can modernize and upgrade their infrastructures to drive major business improvements and enable critical initiatives such as cloud computing, data analytics, mobile and social engagement, the Internet of Things (IoT) and security.

If there has been any impediment to the growth of the All Flash market it has been cost. All Flash storage has traditionally been more expensive than traditional spinning disks when measured on a per-gigabyte basis and, in some cases, IT decision-makers haven’t been able to justify the increased capital investment. Fair enough.

However, the dynamics are changing rapidly and dramatically. With significant price declines over the past few years, the cost of All Flash storage is approaching that of spinning disks—even on a per-gigabyte basis. Here’s what IDC has to say: “Continuing cost declines, coupled with flash-driven data reduction in primary storage environments in particular, should have the effective cost per gigabyte (the cost when factoring in storage efficiency technologies like data reduction) of enterprise-class flash media actually lower than 10,000-rpm and 15,000-rpm HDD raw capacity costs by the end of 2017 for most primary storage workloads.”

Even as the price gap closes, the reality is that per-gigabyte costs don’t even begin to measure the real incremental value that All Flash storage  delivers to today’s businesses when viewed through the lens of overall contribution to total cost of ownership (TCO).

And, with All Flash solutions that leverage modern software-defined storage architectures, such as the IBM FlashSystem V9000, the TCO advantages of All Flash storage are magnified even further. What are the TCO advantages of using software-defined All Flash storage arrays? Here are just a few:

  • Increase revenue: Organizations can process more transactions in shorter time frames and be far more responsive to the needs of customers, leveraging tools such as big data analytics and social networking.
  • Reduce costs and overhead: IT teams can reduce software licensing fees on databases and other applications, while lowering energy consumption costs and reducing the physical space required by the storage infrastructure.
  • Simplify IT: All Flash storage is typically much simpler to deploy, scale and manage than traditional spinning disks. With software-defined storage, IT teams can leverage automation and orchestration capabilities to reduce costs and risks.
  • Shrink the storage footprint: IT can leverage features such as virtualization, compression, data tiering, deduplication and data copy services to significantly reduce the storage footprint. This is critical in today’s era, where unabated data growth continues.
  • Accelerate time to market: Infrastructure can be deployed faster, which means users and IT can be more productive. DevOps teams can be faster and more efficient by processing larger and more complex datasets in shorter time periods to accelerate development and improve quality assurance.
  • Achieve better, faster, more accurate decision-making: With All Flash storage, the organization can be far more effective and efficient in using its data to drive real-time insights and decision-making.

When it comes to All Flash storage and TCO there’s a new reality for IT professionals these days: It is actually more expensive–  and risky – to not use All Flash storage for primary applications than it is to invest in the right software-defined All Flash storage platform.

[1]IDC’s Worldwide Flash in the Data Center Taxonomy 2017,” IDC, January 2017

[2]Flash-based approaches are increasingly becoming mainstream for primary storage,” 451 Research, June 2016

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