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All-flash arrays spread as benefits add up

Among other things, one analyst says, flash-based storage hardly produces any heat, which makes it a salient choice for reducing the cost of cooling in large server rooms.

Jeff Rowe | Feb 09, 2018 01:31 pm

All-flash arrays have been the buzz in the storage industry for some time now, and the market for these AFAs has witnessed stellar growth.

So says tech writer Benjamin Roussey in a recent piece enumerating what he sees as the distinct advantages of flash over other kinds of data storage.

“Just like every aspect of technology, data storage has evolved significantly in the past couple of years and continues to do so,” he observes, then goes onto describe the “significant benefits” of flash.

For example, he notes, “speed of data access is a critical parameter for enterprises to evaluate different options on,” a metric primarily governed by the time taken for the read/write head to move from one position to another. “For even the best-performing HDDs, this time comes to be around 5 milliseconds, (while) flash devices can reduce the access time to as little as 20 microseconds.”  

While in theory that 250 times faster than HDDs, Roussey says that “on a more realistic basis, it's estimated that flash storage devices are close to 100 times faster than comparable HDDs.”

Part of the overall speed factor attributed to flash, Roussey explains, is due the fact that “flash drives enable quick boot up of machines, which is a critical requirement in enterprises with hundreds, if not thousands of devices.”

Moreover, he says, flash drives “have established a strong reputation for device stability and durability, and there's little to zero risk of any spontaneous damages occurring to these devices,” an attribute that makes them “a reliable mechanism of data archival and storage” within healthcare and other business settings.

As for comparative cost, Roussey observes that “in spite of the obviously crucial nature of any decision around the choice of storage media for a business, decision makers tend to oversimplify things and only consider the cost of storage.  . . . Even for a business adamant on securing the most cost-effective data storage solutions, it's paramount to truly factor in all the costs to compare flash storage with hard disk devices.”

While traditional storage costs about 7 to 8 cents per usable GB, he says, significantly less per unit than flash, “prices of flash storage are falling. More importantly, enterprises need to consider price per GB per second, because that's a parameter that factors in the operational efficiency of flash storage.”

Finally, there’s ease of portability.

“We are on the cusp of the IoT revolution,” Roussey says, and healthcare and other organizations “can safely assume that the number of connected devices operating inside their networks will significantly increase very soon. . . . Not only does flash storage mean future-readiness for enterprises, but also implies current portability of data assets.”