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Flash Storage Cheaper Than Hard Drives. Who Would Have Thought?

Aug 28, 2014

Solid state technologies to process work has continued to increase

"One Australian business gained a whopping 50 times faster processing of mission critical analytical tasks from implementing external native flash storage, without any other changes to infrastructure, applications or operating software. Their competitors are currently eating their dust!"

As the technology juggernaut advanced relentlessly for many years, driving ceaselessly past speed, size and performance records, a fundamental "Law" of technology emerged.

Known as Moore's Law, it essentially said that technology would keep getting more compact and faster, providing the price/performance gains needed to support fast evolving business capability. However, even Gordon Moore himself has predicted that this cannot continue forever - it will eventually strike a barrier. The hard disk drive truck has already crashed into that barrier. While the capacity of a single hard drive has kept growing, the amount of work a single hard drive can do and the speed it can do it at have not improved for over a decade and are not expected to in the next decade. In comparison, the ability of solid state technologies to process work has continued to increase. We have reached the point where it is cheaper to buy solid state storage technologies to store active data than to buy large numbers of hard drives to get the processing done on the data stored on them.


Are we saying that the hard drive is dead? Don't go buying a new funeral suit just yet. For archive (infrequently accessed) data, hard drives will still win the long-haul price battle for a few years yet, before succumbing to solid state price/performance gains. For now, we will see hard drives being increasingly relegated to the long-term parking lot with the archive style data.

When is the time right to look at flash storage? Now! Trying to gain competitive advantage with certain applications when dependent on hard disk drive technology would be like trying to win the Formula One championship in a Mack truck - but a lot less fun. Flash technology is well-established and economical, and many of today's applications benefit from the Autobahn of storage - without being held up by speed limits and bottlenecks. Many installations are reaping the benefits already including lower acquisition cost, reduced power, reduced floor space, reduced tuning effort, and significantly improved server utilisation, often allowing for reduction in software licensing costs. All achieved without application adjustments or major new skill sets

If you already have Solid State Disks, are you consigned to the slow lane? Flash technology appears in the market as everything from USB sticks to Solid State Disks (SSDs) to "from the ground up" designed native flash devices. SSDs are reasonably common now, but native flash devices can be up to 5 times faster. So, who needs this dramatic additional performance? Those seeking increases to the efficiency of the whole server environment, and lines of business that value 5 times faster application performance than SSDs for analytics jobs. One Australian business gained a whopping 50 times faster processing of mission critical analytical tasks from implementing external native flash storage, without any other changes to infrastructure, applications or operating software. Their competitors are currently eating their dust!

Do you have to send your current disk technology to the scrap heap before implementing flash? This depends on whose flash technology you invest in. Some technologies can co-exist with your current storage devices and provide all the benefits of flash without disrupting how you currently operate, and implementation can usually be in a matter of hours.

Too good to be true? There's a well-known saying - "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." However, flash storage is an exception to this. Its benefits are founded on solid principles and organisations are seeing the benefits as advertised. Like with any technology, though, if you want the engine to really purr, you need the right mechanic!

For more about making the right flash decisions, talk to our flash pit crew.

 

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