Do Hard Drives have a place in the All-Flash Data Center?

When a data center makes the jump to all-flash arrays the impact is dramatic. Applications respond quick and IT operations become simpler as administrators stop spending hours squeezing performance out of hard disk bound systems. This means it’s “game on” for the all-flash data center, but is there still a role for hard disk drives in this all-flash future? As we will detail in our on demand webinar “All-Flash Data Center, Myth or Reality” the answer is an emphatic “YES”. Here are three reasons why:

All-Flash Has NOT Achieved Price Parity with Hard Disk

Within the last year, it seems every all-flash array vendor has claimed that their system has reached price parity with hard disk based storage systems. But these declarations are always followed up with an important disclaimer: Price parity is only true with “performance” hard disk arrays. These arrays typically use the most expensive and lowest capacity hard disks. They also don’t usually have the excess performance to include data efficiency techniques like deduplication and compression, further increasing their cost per GB.

Reaching price parity with a performance hard disk based array is no small accomplishment but that doesn’t mean all-flash arrays have reached parity with the arrays in the ‘general hard disk population’. Capacity-centric hard disk arrays that focus on storing user data, archives or backup data leverage high capacity hard disk drives and often employ the same data efficiency techniques (deduplication and compression) that all-flash arrays do.

Not All Data Needs High Performance

While flash can make almost every application respond more quickly, not every application needs it. The cost of all-flash arrays has made it feasible to keep all of a data center’s active data, and its near active data, on flash. But user data, older data, backup data and archive data don’t need to be on flash. They typically can’t even take advantage of flash storage performance and flash does not have the capacity to meet the storage demands of all this data either. This is an ideal place for hard disk storage, and yes, maybe even tape.

Integrating Disk and Flash

The question is how do you integrate disk and flash? There are two choices that we will discuss in this webinar. You could manually move data to and from flash as needed, or you could allow the all-flash array to automatically move data between the two tiers. Yes, that means a hybrid system, but maybe one that is designed a little differently, one that starts out as flash and then adds disk to the backend.

To learn more about the realities of the all-flash data center and just how “flashy” you should get, join us for our on demand webinar “The All-Flash Data Center, Myth or Reality?

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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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