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IT managers opting for flash, but slowly via hybrid storage arrays

It is tempting to divide storage arrays into flash and hybrid, says one expert, but there are distinctions within those categories that can constitute an effective storage solution.

Jeff Rowe | May 22, 2018 12:00 am

While flash storage is increasingly the preferred choice for IT managers upgrading their storage systems, the embedded nature of legacy systems is leading them to opt for slow if steady transitions to flash by way of hybrid arrays.

As IT consultant Logan G. Harbaugh pointed out in a recent commentary, “most enterprises have multiple types of data, each with different priorities that are dictated by the size of the data and the speed needed by the applications that access this data.”

The advantage of hybrid storage arrays, Harbaugh argues, is that they can “address differing priorities and the need to reduce costs by joining various types of storage. Increasingly, this includes linking not just flash and HDDs, but multiple tiers of flash, multiple tiers of HDDs, tape, object and cloud-based storage into a single, transparent virtual storage infrastructure that can maintain the effective performance of the entire storage system at the level appropriate for each type of data and application.”

The fact is, most IT systems, whether in healthcare or any other sector of the economy, “do not have a single, homogenous type of storage. Because few enterprises can afford to put every bit or byte of data on the fastest available flash storage, hybrid arrays that mix flash and hard disk drives are a staple in many data centers.” 

There are a number of determining factors, so the decisions can be complicated.  But for Harbaugh, the bottom line is that hybrid storage arrays can provide users the speed and low latency of flash at the same time as the get the economy of HDDs, tape or cloud.

After all, Harbaugh says, not all data needs the ramped up speed and effectiveness of flash data, so IT managers can be selective when it comes to determining which data they should designate for hybrid storage arrays. 

Yes, he concedes, hybrid arrays “are necessarily more complex than all-flash or all-HDD systems, but the flexibility and lower cost make them worth investigating.”