• Tuesday: October 06, 2015

Flash Revolutionizing the Storage eco-system

Recent IDC research reveals that data center customers drove the flash-based array market past $11 billion last year. It will further grow to $1.2 billion in revenue by 2015, the best part being that it has come to increasingly being embraced by Indian companies alike across sectors.

Jatin Bakshi Business Head – Cloud Networking portfolio for Indian Sub-continent – Citrix

Jatin Bakshi

Business Head – Cloud Networking portfolio for Indian Sub-continent – Citrix.

Indeed, with industry trends such as Social, Mobility, Analytics, Cloud and Software Defined Everything catching up, organizations are realizing the need for their businesses to meet the workload demands that are a result of these trends. From an enterprise perspective, flash storage is an ideal storage solution for I/O intensive workloads such as heavy virtualized environments, online transaction processing or data warehousing.

Agrees Sridharan Mani, Director & CEO, American Megatrends India Private Limited, "The adoption of all flash arrays is growing significantly and with the advent of new age all-flash arrays, the acceptance and affordability in customer environment is going to increase substantially."

Neeraj Matiyani Director – Storage Solutions, Dell India.

Neeraj Matiyani

Director – Storage Solutions, Dell India.

All-Flash vs Hybrid Flash..

With both AFA and HFA (Hybrid Flash Arrays) gaining significance not just in news but in reality, it's not a coincidence anymore that market for flash storage is becoming mainstream and booming. Every major storage vendor and a host of start-ups are vying for mind share and market share in the performance storage market. When it comes to all-flash storage arrays, a good software-defined, scale-out architecture enables quick deployment of new cost-efficient flash technologies into an existing all-flash array. All-flash storage changes the way companies do business by dramatically speeding application performance and improving efficiency.


While market forecasts suggest that the global data center flash storage market will see greater dominance by all-flash arrays (AFAs) and hybrid flash arrays (HFAs), Hitachi Data Systems view flash as just another progressive and intelligent capability of the enterprise array. Srikant Attravanam, Director, Platform Solutions and Services, Hitachi Data Systems comments, "Enterprise disk array controllers have been focused on increasing functionality for high availability, scalability, and performance through intelligence in the controller and caching, since there was very little that could be done with the disk media. Consistent sub mili-second response time is becoming a requirement for majority of application workloads and this is where Flash can fill up this gap of performance requirement."

Santosh D'Souza Director – Systems Engineering, NetApp Marketing & Services Pvt Ltd.

Santosh D'Souza

Director – Systems Engineering, NetApp Marketing & Services Pvt Ltd.

AMI sees adoption to all-flash based storage arrays being one of the hottest trends in the market. "The present StorTrends 3500i series is an all-flash/hybrid storage array that is unique in the industry in the way it bundles SSD as a tier as well as a cache. Our upcoming StorTrends 3600i dual controller all-flash array combines enterprise level performance and functionality at an affordable cost," says Sridharan.

However IDC estimates the market for hybrid flash to be 10x that of all flash arrays. Customers are choosing to deploy hybrid storage arrays that combine flash with spinning media. The reasons are intuitive. "Talking about enterprise flash, hybrid storage arrays make the most sense and we encourage our customers to adopt hybrid storage rather than All-flash. Our customers receive the best of both worlds – High performance flash for incoming data, and low cost bulk storage for aging data. All data placement is managed automatically behind the scenes, optimizing cost and performance. This approach continues to be well received by our customers," says Neeraj.


Sridharan Mani Director & CEO, American Megatrends India Private Limited

Sridharan Mani

Director & CEO, American Megatrends India Private Limited

EMC believes that there is no "One Size Fits All" solution, that "Architecture Matters" and "A Little Flash Goes a Long Way" in hybrid environments. "EMC has a full breadth of solutions – hybrid arrays, all-Flash arrays and server-Flash caching and hence there is huge promise in 2015 for this segment. More than 70% of all EMC VMAX and EMC VNX2 systems now ship with flash capacity. XtremIO is the fastest-growing all-Flash array, and the fastest-growing storage array in history," says Masroor.


NetApp is another vendor that has been a pioneer in the trend of incorporating Flash in data storage and services platforms. "We first introduced Flash as a cache for hot data from hard disk drives in 2009. Over the last six years, NetApp continued to help global enterprises achieve success with the industry's broadest portfolio of flash-accelerated, cloud-integrated storage and data management solutions. Today, NetApp has a comprehensive flash portfolio across all possible use cases and we are continuously enhancing our flash portfolio offering," says Santosh./p>


Jatin Bakshi, Business Head – Cloud Networking portfolio for Indian Sub-continent – Citrix points out that the adoption strategy of most enterprises and vendors is to take one step at a time and pick workloads which can be impacted most by the performance gains. "Hence hybrid arrays are gaining more traction as compared to all flash arrays," he says.


Therefore…

Though Flash is expensive, efficiency technologies built into AFAs make it affordable. The absolute cost of flash storage has been coming down, significantly over the last few years that makes the relative cost per TB of storage more attractive than ever in a Flash vs. traditional array. "Flash arrays have a higher performance throughput, which allows you to use fewer arrays to manage the same workloads. Traditional disk doesn't have the performance to run this sort of de-duplication software in real-time so you need more capacity to support the same amount of data," comments Masroor.


Neeraj believes that the huge cost of all-Flash arrays gets justified by the benefits it provides. Fortunately, recent technological developments mean much reduced costs of All- Flash storage arrays. "For instance Dell recently became the first storage array provider to announce adoption of the industry's newest, highest-density and lowest-cost-for-performance enterprise flash drives, helping organizations of all sizes to significantly reduce costs associated with storing and managing their valuable data and IT applications," he observes.


The drop in flash pricing has been as dramatic as its rise in popularity. New Flash technologies have developed in many forms and have achieved high reliability and extreme performance at impressively low latency. Besides, the cost of ownership of All Flash Arrays is constantly decreasing, as the cost of the medium itself reduces and technologies like deduplication and compression assisting in reducing the All Flash capacity. "In 2009, SLC flash cost around $65 per GB whereas today the street price of a GB of eMLC flash is around $8. While that's impressive, it's important to remember that the cost of one GB of enterprise class hard disk space is around $0.65. Hence it is important for organizations to not only educate end-customers but all also channel partner to truly understand the benefits of Flash and ROI when deployed effectively," remarks Santosh.


The major cost associated with all flash storage is the flash drives itself, which costs many times the traditional hard drives. By combining the capacity oriented consumer class SSDs with high endurance enterprise class SSDs, the cost of the overall investment in storage array is considerably reduced. "We believe this line of products is going to have lot of acceptance in the coming days as many of the market segments would be able to adopt to flash based storage in their environments. With state-of-the-art data reduction techniques like inline deduplication and compression, the capacity requirements are also trimmed down without the need for adding additional enclosures," explains Sridharan.


Indeed, all Flash arrays are going to challenge existing IT architectures, their impact being not limited to only storage subsystems. "Flash removes 2 major constraints that disk based storage imposed on IT architectures; performance and IO. On the performance aspect the significant gains provided by flash-based storage arrays would mean that other application delivery components such as compute and network would undergo changes so that these gains could deliver effectively to the applications," Jatin sums up.


Flash is rapidly and violently disrupting the disk status quo. While a number of IT trends are resulting in the transformation of today's datacenters, the use of All-Flash storage has begun to play an important role in the enterprise market in India. "As flash is becoming more pervasive, optimized, and affordable, new applications and new storage software stacks are also emerging that are built "ground-up" for solid-state. Thus today, flash storage has value in a number of implementations within and across the storage infrastructure—be that in storage systems themselves, in servers, or in the network," observes Syed Masroor, Sales Director – Flash Storage Sales India, EMC.

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