Developing your 2015 Flash Strategy

As we approach the last quarter of 2014, IT professionals are reaching out to me about what their flash strategy should be in 2015. Many are looking to move beyond the adoption phase that addresses point solutions and into a more aggressive rollout. The challenge is that there are so many options for deploying flash in the enterprise it’s hard to determine which is the right strategy for their data center and their situation.

This request for help in developing a flash strategy has become frequent enough that Storage Switzerland is creating a workshop for you to attend and get the tools you need to develop your own flash strategy for 2015. We will be providing an overview of the workshop in a series of columns starting with this article.

Prerequisites For Developing a Flash Strategy

Before IT planners begin creating their 2015 flash strategies there are some prerequisites that need to be understood. In some ways, the level of detail you need to satisfy these prerequisites will directly impact the flash implementation you end up adopting.

For example, if you decide that an all-flash array makes sense for your environment then knowing the exact manufacturer of the NAND flash chips and the flash controller in that system is less important than if you were to use a software defined storage solution where you will be integrating the hardware. But for the same reasons we still teach long division in school (at least in Texas), there is value in having a rudimentary understanding of the components.

Prerequisite 1: Flash NAND Type

Flash today comes in four basic forms: SLC, MLC, eMLC and TLC. The differences are in the amount of data that is written per NAND cell. The more data per cell the more cost effective that flash device will be, but the faster it will wear out. SLC stands for “single level cell” and means that one bit is written per cell. MLC stands for “multi-level cell” and means that two bits are written per cell. TLC stands for triple level cell, meaning that three bits are stored in each cell.

We go into a little more detail of the “whys and wherefores” of these technologies in our workshop, but for today, most enterprises will find that MLC provides the best balance between performance and reliability. That’s not to say that SLC or TLC won’t continue to play a role. In fact, as I explain in the workshop, TLC may become the ultimate archive tier. However, for most production and day to day workloads, MLC will do the job. This is in large part due to the flash controller technology that is implemented along with the NAND flash design. This is actually the next prerequisite for developing a flash strategy – a basic understanding of flash controller technology. For now though, search our site for MLC or SLC, and you will find more details on the different types of NAND flash.

As I mentioned, our next column will cover flash controller technology. After that, we will cover the last and most important prerequisite for understanding your environment – the infrastructure and the applications it is running now and what it will likely need to support in the future. Then we will post a few columns on actually developing your 2015 Flash Storage Strategy.

Sign Up Now

As I said, we have already had quite a few requests to attend this workshop and are working on compiling cities and dates. If you want the workshop to come to a city near you, please fill out the form below. This will be a private list and your name will NOT be shared with vendors or added to our standard mailing list. You will get one confirmation email that you are signed up and one additional email letting you know what the dates are.

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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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