As health data piles up, flash storage is poised for ever new uses

AI, machine learning and analytics in healthcare and elsewhere are pushing vendors to develop more efficient and cheaper storage for exploding stockpiles of data.

Jeff Rowe | Dec 04, 2017 12:00 am

Flash pricing is going to decline by 50 percent decline in about three years and by 75 percent in six years.

That’s according to Pure Storage CEO Charlie Giancarlo in a recent interview with Network World.  In large part, Giancarlo’s assessment of the storage sector will ring bells for many healthcare stakeholders, as he sees much of the emerging demand for flash coming from the rise of “large-scale unstructured data storage, such as big data, IoT information, and even backup.”

In tech development terms, Giancarlo says “there is a Moore’s Law for flash where the price curve is declining quickly. The curve for magnetic is declining, as well, but flash is falling faster. Right now, it’s cheaper to store unstructured data on magnetic, but once flash drops another 50 percent, I believe there will be significant competition for flash versus magnetic in that market. Magnetic is a bottleneck as the world moves to real-time analytics — creating lots of opportunities for flash to enable new applications in the analytics space.”

Interestingly, Giancarlo says flash doesn’t actually have to be cheaper than magnetic disk for the full transition to happen — “it just has to be cheap enough for folks to be able to justify the conversion in terms of saving power, space, cooling, and manpower, and for folks to understand the business upside in moving to flash. ... That ROI equation already works for the vast majority of important business applications today, and we think the pivot for unstructured data applications will happen much faster than people anticipate.”

Whatever new solution health IT managers evaluate, Giancarlo advises, their top criteria should be complexity reduction. “No matter whether it’s servers, network or storage, evaluate the vendor on their software. With storage, this means the management tools should be built specifically for flash and not be one designed for magnetic and then retrofitted.”