Analyzing Flash Adoption

In a recent webinar focused on reducing latency of the flash interconnect, we asked a polling question “Where do you primarily use flash today?”.  As you can see from the results users are still trying to figure out how and where to best apply flash.

Polling screenshot

Server Side Flash is Winning

Without question the use of flash in the server is a clear winner in our poll. With 57% using flash in the server (21% using an SSD and 36% using flash on a PCIe card). This should bode very well for server-side caching products like SanDisk’s FlashSoft, Intel’s Cache Acceleration Software and Proximal Data’s AutoCache. Server side flash being a front-runner also plays well into SanDisk’s ULLtraDIMM memory bus flash that we discussed on the webinar, since it’s a server-side technology with even lower latency and better performance than PCIe Flash.

Shared Flash is Lagging

Surprisingly, shared flash systems, both hybrid and all-flash, were way behind. Only 7% had implemented a shared flash storage device at this point. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is the network needs to be upgraded; 10GbE or Gen 5 fibre channel will allow shared flash systems to reach more of their full potential.

The problem is, of course, that infrastructure upgrades in companies happen at a glacial pace compared to storage and server upgrades. But in the next year to 18 months many of these aging architectures will likely be scheduled for refresh. Certainly flash-based storage gives IT planners even more incentive to kick off those projects sooner rather than later. We are working on several reports that compare next generation architectures like 10GbE/40GbE, Gen 5 FC and InfiniBand. Make sure you follow @storageswiss to get notified when those reports become available.

“No Flash” Adoption is Sizable!

Probably most alarming for the flash industry is how many respondents said they had not deployed flash storage in any way, shape or form. A staggering 21% of IT planners on the call indicated that they were still not using flash at all. Reason’s given? Number one was a concern that they could not implement flash in a way that their application could take advantage of and number two was the age-old complaint about flash reliability.

We are writing another report that covers how to decide if your virtualized environment and your SQL environment can leverage flash and then how to deploy flash into those environments. So again, stay tuned. As for the reliability concern, we’ve written about that extensively. See the below list for just a few of the articles we have that cover this important subject.

How To Make Reliable SSDs – Reliable NAND Flash

Overcoming The Challenges With SSD Reliability

Improving SSD Performance Through Better Flash Management

Conclusion

We as analysts, as well as the flash community of vendors and the networking infrastructure vendors still have work to do to help IT Planners find the right flash solutions for their environments. I’ve recently seen a few claims that the data center will be All-Flash for storage in five years. That prediction will be very wrong if some of these basic issues can’t be resolved. Vendors need to focus less on IOPS and more on ease of integration.

Count on Storage Switzerland to help you make that journey through articles, lab reports and webinars.

Screenshot 2013-11-26 05.59.54

Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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