Flash in the Data Center: Solid-state Drives For Enterprise Workloads

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Know the Workloads
  3. Flash-enabled Servers and Storage Arrays
  4. Developing a Strategy: Software-defined Flash
  5. Workloads that Benefit from Flash
  6. Overcoming Inhibitors to Flash Adoption
  7. Key Takeaways
  8. About George Crump


Flash technology has reached maturity, so now is the time to consider it for the data center.

In years past, the primary challenge for data center storage designers was assembling an architecture that met capacity demands. Performance was a problem, but the means for addressing it had practical limitations. Flash-based storage solutions solve that problem by combining the non-volatile memory of solid-state disks (SSDs) with the low latency of memory. As a result, flash enables and accelerates key data-center initiatives in database, analytics, cloud computing, and virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI)—all of them workloads requiring high performance and low latency.

Today, vendors are addressing IT’s historical concerns about the cost and reliability of flash, but the changing economics of flash-enabled computing are still not widely known. Although individual SSDs still cost more than hard-disk drives (HDDs), the increase in IT efficiency reduces the overall operational cost of deployment and maintenance. In this environment, the decision to implement flash-enabled workloads rests on greater awareness of the impact that flash storage has on workload performance, IT efficiency, and operational costs.

Key highlights from this report include:

  • Flash in the storage architecture will show some level of performance improvement for a wide range of workloads, and some workloads will even see a significant performance return. Flash’s non-volatile memory preserves data, even in the event of electrical outage, network outage or natural disaster.
  • Workloads most likely to return high value for a flash investment are big data analytics, virtual desktop infrastructure and servers, video-on-demand, high-performance databases, and high-performance computing.
  • No foreseeable alternative storage technology over the next four years justifies delaying investments in flash-enabled systems.
  • With no moving parts, no heads to position, and no platters to spin, flash storage is well suited for accelerating database performance.
  • The performance capability of x86 server nodes with flash drives can reduce the data-center footprint, as workloads are consolidated and the storage density per server is increased.

Thumbnail image courtesy of 4X-image/iStock.

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