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As price drops for flash in healthcare, use case options multiply

The expense of flash storage has made it hard for many potential users to justify and thus limited its use, says one stakeholder, but all that is changing as the price drops and new uses are quickly being developed.

Jeff Rowe | Nov 08, 2017 03:23 pm

Say the words, “flash storage,” and you’ll likely have no shortage of people talking immediately about the cost.

But in a recent column, George Crump, President of Storage Switzerland, points out that flash “is breaking new thresholds in price per gigabyte,” and as it does stakeholders are quickly finding new uses for it.

For example, says Crump, you used to only deploy flash data storage systems . . . for applications that could take advantage of their performance. But flash is now the go-to media for primary data storage. Any application or data set that can justify the use of primary storage can also justify the use of flash.”

In his view, the next step in flash adoption will drive the technology in three directions. “The most surprising is into secondary storage, such as archive and backup. Another is into even faster performance than what is available today. The third is the use of flash as a replacement for DRAM.”

On the first use, secondary storage, Crump notes that “as the cost of building and powering new data centers becomes more challenging, the thought of squeezing more capacity into the same space becomes more compelling, even if it is a little more expensive.”

Similarly surprising for Crump is the increase of flash for backup and data protections. “The speed of flash allows it to add data faster and to respond to user search requests instantly. But the big shift in data protection is recovery in place. Most backup applications can host a virtual machine's data store directly on the backup target. Suddenly, backup storage just became primary storage.”

Finally, says Crump, while “lash started life as a more expensive, but faster alternative to HDDs, “now, it is ready to evolve into a slower, but less expensive alternative to system RAM.”

As for what lies ahead, Crump predicts “the adoption of protocols such as NVMe, as well as memory bus-based flash DIMMs, will ensure flash technology keeps pace with user demands.”