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Considerations Supporting AFA Investment for the 3rd Platform

Posted by Ryan Everett on Feb 5, 2018 12:00:00 PM

Did you know the All-Flash Array (AFA) market is one of the fastest-growing sub-segments of the overall enterprise storage space, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.4 percent through 2020?1  What’s most intriguing is how AFAs help align organizations into the 3rd platform (cloud, mobile, big data and analytics), which IDC predicts will account for 95 percent of IT expenditure by 2020.1

The IDC views AFAs as an absolute requirement for performance reasons in any 3rd platform computing environment.1 The 3rd platform demands agility, performance and availability to meet increasingly complex business environments. These demands are intense on storage infrastructure in regards to automation, performance, availability and scalability and pose challenges for traditional hard disk drive (HDD) storage solutions to manage cost-effectivity.

For years, IT managers have been forced to make decisions based on one or the other – better performing AFAs ($/IOPS) or a more economical approach ($/GB) with legacy HDDs. While most understand the performance gains of deploying AFAs, often organizations fail to adequately calculate what IDC refers to as “secondary economic benefits of flash deployment at scale" when evaluating an investment in AFAs. Organizations often take the narrow approach of simply calculating raw $/GB but don’t consider the effective $/GB. To fully understand this, the IDC outlines these secondary economic benefits across six areas, which contribute to a compelling TCO story.1

  1. Far Fewer Devices to Meet Performance Requirements – From an IOPS perspective, traditional HDDs handle ~200+ IOPS compared to SSDs which typically handle ~10,000+ IOPS. If 50,000 IOPS are required for the deployment, it will take 250 HDDs to handle the load of just five SSDs. Keep in mind that SSD capacity should be considered, which could potentially add SSDs to meet capacity requirements for an application. The point is, the raw $/GB value isn’t the only relevant decision factor when compared to effective $/GB in this example. Furthermore, as the price of SSDs continues to drop over the next few years, this advantage is even more substantial.
  2. Much Lower Energy and Floor Space Consumption – SSDs consume roughly 50 percent less power than an HDD of similar capacity. With lesser devices deployed, SSDs inherently take up less facility space thus making power and cooling more cost-effective. Energy and facilities should be considered in TCO calculations.
  3. Fewer Application Servers – Compensating for storage performance requirements, traditional HDD environments are adding servers, leading to underutilization of compute capacity. SSDs generally boast ten times lower latencies than HDDs, which increases per-server CPU utilization. IDC consistently sees 30 percent fewer x86 servers required to support desired applications using SSDs. Server redeployment or less investment in Greenfield deployments are realized benefits of AFAs.1
  4. Lower Software Licensing – With fewer application servers, the need for licensing decreases. Additionally, AFAs often have more competitive bundling options and include array software with the purchase price of the system.
  5. Lowered Administration Costs – With greater performance, administrators spend less time attending to field issues/complaints and storage tuning. Furthermore, common tasks such as provisioning are largely automated with AFAs, thus freeing up resources, increasing productivity and overall response time.
  6. Better Device-Level Reliability – SSDs typically demonstrate three to six times higher reliability than comparably sized HDDs. Using the example of benefit one, the amount of administration to replace failed drives in five SSDs vs. 250 HDDs would be quite the difference.

Today’s investment criteria should look beyond just the raw $/GB numbers and utilize effective $/GB as a relevant AFA investment measure. The pricing vs. performance parity is often closer than many organizations realize when taking this approach. With the performance requirements to support 3rd platform, the time to adopt or grow your AFA presence is here. Tech Data provides the technical expertise and vendor portfolio to help solve all your customers’ storage needs. Please contact your Tech Data representative to get started.


Burgener, Eric. “Justifying Investment in All-Flash Arrays.” Www.idc.com, 1 Aug. 2016, www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=US41646416.

About the Author:

Ryan Everett joined Tech Data in 2014. Ryan’s role as program manager for Tech Data’s data center and converged solutions group, gives him end-to-end responsibilities defining/developing program architecture for new production introductions integrated by Tech Data.

Tags: Data Center, 3rd platform, all-flash array (AFA)