By Evan Unrue, Chief Technologist, IoT, Analytics & Cognitive EMEA
At the point of its entry into the market, the All-Flash Array gained its appeal through jaw dropping performance, primarily to those with specific use cases that demanded they do something different to address the high performance storage requirements, such as high performance OLTP database environments and large-scale virtual desktop deployments.
However, All-Flash Arrays for many were still seen to be cost prohibitive when you looked at the cost per Gigabyte only, and there was also a maturity concern to be addressed. Enterprise Flash Technology adoption started in the form of hybrid or server side flash deployments early on, leveraging features such as caching which utilised SSD or tiering of data across SSD Drives and traditional hard disk drives. The principle was simple in so much as the hottest, most active data would sit on the fastest disk and cold data on the larger, slower disk.
However, since flash technology has had access to the large R&D budgets of enterprise storage technology vendors, the innovation around SSD technology has moved beyond just advances at the silicon level and into the broader context of storage array technology.
Mature storage features such as deduplication and compression that previously thrived in near line storage technologies around backup and archive arrays, have since found a home in the All-Flash Array market. Coupled with increases in CPU performance, storage services such as deduplication and compression are able to run in real-time on All-Flash Arrays with negligible overheads. With the cost of SSD reducing at the manufacturing layer, the combined effect has been a reduction in the cost per Gigabyte of All-Flash Arrays. In many cases this is now delivering price parity in-line with traditional storage arrays, as well as delivering operational cost savings around power, cooling and management complexity.
With all these things in mind, the likes of Gartner are tracking the compound annual growth rate of SSD at 20% between 2015 and 2019, with traditional HDD sales tracking at 4%, expecting SSD revenues to equal those of HDD in 2017.
With the maturity benefits coming through for SSD in terms of cost and enterprise grade storage features, organisations who are tasked with more transformational reform in how they implement IT to support their business now have the platform on which they can layer innovation, alongside all the other industry advances in compute, networking and security. If you add that arterial vein, “Software Defined everything” you now have the next generation datacentre.