The concept of an all-flash array once seemed impossibly expensive, but now almost a dozen companies ship a storage system that has no hard disk drives inside. The bigger question is if and when the entire data center can become all-flash? If it can, data centers will shrink in size, as the number of virtual machines per physical host will skyrocket. Data center power and cooling requirements will be driven to new lows and expansion of storage will no longer be driven by performance, just capacity.
But the harsh reality is that all-flash arrays have proven themselves effective for specific workloads (databases, virtual servers, virtual desktops), which represent potentially the slowest growing data set in the environment today. Real data growth is occurring in unstructured data, the files that users, machines and sensors create. While some of this data can take advantage of all-flash performance capabilities, that demand is short lived. This reality is going to lead many data centers to actually be “mostly flash” but not all-flash.
For well into the foreseeable future there will almost certainly be a need for a second tier of storage. That storage could be a local high capacity storage system, a private cloud object storage system or the storage of a public cloud provider. Of these three choices only the use of a public cloud provider really provides the data center the opportunity to become all-flash and achieve a goal of reducing data center footprint as well as power and cooling requirements.
The key issue of course is to manage cloud latency for the occasions that older, less active data is suddenly needed again. This means that the on-premises device needs to be more that just a gateway to the cloud. It has to be an appliance that can provide a high performance, global file system that can consolidate storage both on-site and in the cloud into a single easy to manage structure.
In our upcoming live webinar with Avere, we will discuss the challenges the data center faces to become 100% all-flash, and how the cloud can be a viable alternative to continuing to build out the organization’s data center. If you register today, all pre-registrants will receive a copy of our latest white paper “How Cloud can enable the All-Flash Data Center” soon after they sign up.