Flash Based Data Centre: A Reality?

November, 2016

The hard drive and flash drive are two types of storage mechanism used in Data Centres. As of current stats, the Hard Drive mechanism is still the favoured one. Although both do the same work, boot your system, and store your applications and personal files. While HDD is, cheap and has wide adoption (they have in business since IBM introduced them in 1954) but Flash is ideal for programmes and data where fast and regular access is key, it’s an expensive method to deeper storage and the operation of less mission-critical apps.

The businesses have since then come a long way and Flash is a clear winner in OPEX, with less power utilization and faster data store rate. In terms of data centre storage mechanism, the flash is a carving a niche since it is providing enterprises with inexpensive alternative that can have a great impact on CAPEX too.

Flash, which was only considered in extreme performance, has seen the continuous expansion and deepening of its capabilities with dedupe, compression, greater scalability, performance acceleration and encryption introduced in recent times. These have provided enterprises a viable need for an ever-growing number of apps and needs.

For the enterprise, a Flash array across the data centre will make every application and data, mission-critical or not, available immediately with less waiting time. As this economy is growing, and we need faster data storage capability and safeguards to mission critical applications -  from web hosting to CRM systems, makes reliable performance a must, and only deliverable via Flash storage. Not to mention the increasing use of virtualisation within the enterprises and each of those mission-critical applications may be running multiple instances, simultaneously – ever more instant access requirement.

At the data centre level, the advantage of an All-Flash implementation is that it will lower heating and cooling requirements, thereby will reduce the cooling requirements of data centres and allow enterprises to run their services from far smaller constructed rooms. They can hugely reduce property costs or simply reallocate once sparsely used but vital space to more productive ends. These factors add up to a significantly reduced environmental impact and encourages green technology (and CAPEX reduction).

The cost of all flash arrays is quite high and as of now it appears that although all-flash mainstream arrays are possible but deployments of the arrays are hybrid (using both flash and disk).

All mainstream players in market offer flash storage like EMC/Dell, Hitachi, IBM, Tegile, Nimble but there are some niche players too like Purestorage.

But as an expert what do you think. Is It beneficial to deploy hybrid or all-flash array?