By Candice Adrian
Flash technology has become a reliable, revolutionary performance-driving storage option for the most demanding and mission-critical enterprise data sets. Flash has enabled the IT industry to provide the levels of service and response times demanded by today’s organisations for their business applications.
Moore’s Law predicted that computing processing power would double every two years, and this has certainly held true, sparking a requirement for more efficient IO processing. As a result, we are seeing more and more organisations adopting flash to overcome the limitations of mechanical drives.
Flash is changing the way traditional storage subsystems are being architected and manufactured. This technology is already in use in hybrid arrays, servers, scale-out Network-Attached Storage (NAS), and all-flash arrays.
Hybrid arrays are storage management systems which combine hard disk drives with solid-state drives. By adding a flash level to the memory hierarchy, companies aim to lower the cost per IO.
Hybrid arrays typically have three tiers of storage; Tier 0 – flash drives – are the most expensive and the fastest, as there is no mechanical impairment. Tier 1 consists of fibre channel or SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) drives, which have been used for the past 15 years in traditional storage arrays. Tier 2 refers to the larger capacity, slower drives typically used in archive solutions. These have the lowest cost of the three options.
Internal software is used to monitor the IO workload and identify data more frequently accessed (hot data) versus less-frequently accessed content (cold data). The software will move the data up and down the tiers according to activity, with the hot data eventually moved to flash technology and the cold data migrated to the slower archive drives.
Server flash is a flash card deployed in the server to dramatically improve application performance by reducing latency and accelerating throughput. In addition, server flash can be used as a local storage device to accelerate read and write performance for high-transaction environments.
Scale-out NAS is a clustered storage system architecture which consists of independent nodes that use flash to optimise indexing and speed up the retrieval of data.
An all-flash array is a solid state storage disk system which contains multiple flash memorydrives instead of spinning hard disk drives. The arrays may be of a scale-out clustered type design that grows capacity and performance linearly to meet any requirement. These arrays are created from building blocks, each of which is a high-availability, high-performance, fully active storage system with no single point of failure.
And the benefits of flash technology? First and foremost, it is capable of handling large quantities of data. This is imperative with new technologies such as virtualisation, Big Data and cloud computing requiring increased levels of performance and efficiency.
Flash also offers high performance and low latency, and is becoming more affordable thanks to de-duplication and other data reduction technologies. Furthermore, it allows businesses to analyse more data and process more transactions.