Flash for Files

Flash-based storage systems continue to make inroads into the enterprise. Initially those inroads started as flash systems targeted at improving database response time. Then it spread to virtual workloads to alleviate the IO blender. Now, flash storage is on the verge of becoming the default storage system for unstructured data. File and object storage systems need some of flash’s performance and all of its potential density.

Density is King

Unlike the database and virtualized market, density is the most appealing aspect of flash storage for unstructured data. Flash does not have the space concerns that hard disk devices have and IT can stack them closely together without a concern with vibration and heat. The result is petabytes of capacity in 3-4U of rack space.

In virtualized and database environments flash became more cost effective because one shelf of flash SSDs outperforms hundreds of hard disk drives. For unstructured data, hard disk drives may very well be less expensive on a cost per GB basis but when factoring in the power, cooling and space variables, high density flash gains a significant economic advantage. Data centers are not cheap.

Performance Doesn’t Hurt

Of course applications needing access data on an all-flash storage system designed for unstructured data can take full advantage of the performance. Because the data is now on flash, systems can ingest data more quickly, analysis performance can be faster and Test/Dev and DevOps can operate more seamlessly.

A Different Kind of Flash

Unstructured data, quite obviously, is different than structured data. It needs a different flash storage system. This system has to deliver extreme density along with performance. And ideally it should be bundled with a file system designed for massive amounts of unstructured data.

Storage Switzerland has two resources available for you to learn more about flash for unstructured data. Our webinar “Flash Myth: Flash is for Everything vs. Flash is Only for One Thing” discusses the five workloads that are ideal for flash and which type of flash is best for each of them. Attached to that webinar you’ll find the second resource. Our paper “Flash, It’s not just for Databases Anymore” focuses specifically on the flash for unstructured data use case and what IT professionals should look for in a system designed for these markets.

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Click Here For The On Demand Webinar And White Paper

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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One comment on “Flash for Files
  1. Tim Wessels says:

    Well, Mr. Crump is right. Flash storage in some form will be able to handle all use cases, including storing unstructured data in object-based storage clusters. Now that Seagate has shown a 60TB flash device, we can safely say that flash has won the capacity race against HDDs. Price is the final consideration and the fully burdened cost of HDDs vs SSDs is the question that needs to be answered. HDDs do have the lowest cost per GB for raw storage at around $0.05 per GB. SSDs can cost has low as $0.25 per GB. If you factor in the external costs (space, cooling, operating) for using HDDs, it seems plausible that SSDs will be completely competitive with HDDs when they reach $0.15 per GB. This might take 12 or 18 months to occur. If $0.15 per GB becomes the signal to begin buying SSDs for everything, then the manufacturing of HDDs may be over by 2025.

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