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The Major Benefits of All-flash Storage

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Jenna Delport
Jenna Delport
I’m a tech writer, world traveller, avocado-eater and dog lover, not always in that order.

Since flash storage debuted into the mainstream storage arena, its uptake has been skyrocketing in data centres across the globe, and shows no signs of slowing down. This isn’t surprising as more and more storage and speed is needed in the age of big data, and all-flash arrays are the ideal solution, particularly as the cost isn’t nearly as high as it was a decade ago.

This is according to Fred Saayman, Huawei Business Unit: Executive, at Pinnacle ICT, SA’s leading local ICT distributor.

“All-flash storage has many benefits over hybrid solutions. Perhaps the most compelling is its latency, as all-flash arrays usually see sub 1ms latencies on a mixed workload, and peak latency above 5 ms is highly unusual. If you compare this with SANs, for example, which see on average, latency of around 5 to 10 ms, or look at it with spinning disk solutions whose latency ranges massively, or SANs which see an average latency around 5 to 10 ms, the advantage becomes even more apparent. Latencies as low as all-flash offers, give users unprecedented performance, enabling them to access the workloads and applications they need at lightning speeds. This, in turn, sees productivity and efficiency increase like never before.”

Another major benefit, he says, is all-flash storage’s ability to handle the data explosion that characterises the digital age we live in today. “Organisations of every type and size, and across all industries, are having to do more with less. Shrinking IT budgets are still expected to manage the flood of big data that every business is experiencing, and according to all analysts, this data explosion is only set to get worse, with some estimating the amount of data is growing by 50% each year. Storage systems are in demand and under pressure, and only all-flash really has the ability to cope.”

Hand in hand with this, says Saayman, is level of performance all-flash arrays are able to offer to budgets of every size and workloads of every type. All-flash meets the needs for rapid access to information, which allows organisations to get more value from their data, by being able to access and analyse it more quickly. It also enables them to process a greater number of transactions in less time, and accelerate applications and services in order to meet the growing needs of businesses.

Another benefit, he says, is cost. “There’s a common misconception out there that all-flash is all-flash is simply too expensive for most businesses, and that they usually cost, significantly more than disk. While there is some truth in the fact that all-flash can come with a higher price tag initially, when you consider data reduction methods such as deduplication, compression and suchlike, real savings are realised in the long run. All-flash today, is in fact ultimately more affordable when you look at the real cost per GB. In addition, when you consider the greater efficiency and productivity it offers, it’s a no brainer really.”

“Pricing has become highly competitive these days, and it gives IT administrators a very attractive alternative that results in a decrease in management costs. The same is true when it comes to total cost of ownership, as all-flash requires significantly less space, about a fifth of the space taken up by traditional spinning disk systems, as well as a similar reduction in power usage.”

Many businesses have also had concerns around all-flash systems not being highly available, but nothing could be farther from the truth, says Saayman. “While this may have been true in the very early days, this is no longer the case. Today’s solutions have high availability built-in from the ground up, and offer all sorts of data management features, including replication and snapshots. All-flash today feature totally redundant hardware, as well as top-end software that handle underlying issues automatically, without the need for manual intervention. 

The first generation of flash form factors did not provide high availability, but today the emergence of true all-flash arrays developed from the ground up have built-in HA, snapshots, replication and other data management features. These arrays feature fully redundant hardware combined with sophisticated software that automatically handles any underlying problems.

According to him, today’s organisations need a lot more performance, resilience and efficiency, driven by new technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, machine learning cloud solutions, virtualisation and big data. “With the pace of changes businesses are experiencing today, these needs have become critical.”

Moreover, the all-flash solutions we find these days are built with simplicity and ease of use top of mind, ensuring that a new system can be up and running rapidly, as the configuration is both quick and incredibly simple. “Add to this that the user interface is intuitive and easy to use, and that the maintenance and management of all-flash systems are dramatically reduced. In addition, capacity can be scaled simply and easily, without any disruptions to systems or impact on performance.”

Huawei OceanStor Dorado V3 all-flash storage systems, for example, are purpose-built for the critical services that all enterprises require. The system is powered by intelligent chips, Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) architecture, NVMe and Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) Solid State Drives (SSDs), and Huawei FlashLink intelligent algorithms, OceanStor Dorado V3 is scalable to 16 controllers, and supports 7,000,565 SPC-1 Input/Output Operations per SecondT (IOPS) with just 0.3 millisecond latency. 

Moreover, the OceanStor supports comprehensive SAN and NAS features, bringing high-quality data services for databases and file systems, and provides the HyperMetro gateway-free active-active solution, which can be seamlessly upgraded to the 3DC or CDM solution, to achieve 99.9999% availability. It also applies best-in-class inline compression and inline deduplication technology, delivering a data reduction ratio up to 5:1, reducing OPEX by up to 75%. 

OceanStor Dorado V3 is perfect for use with databases, virtual desktop and server infrastructure, and file sharing. It was designed to facilitate the transition to an all-flash solution for businesses in finance, manufacturing, telecom, and many other sectors,” he says.

While some still believe that all-flash is in the purview of the largest enterprises with the greatest storage needs, in truth, it is ideal for businesses of every size. “All-flash solutions are being made available at a price to suit every business, even the smaller entities. Irrespective of the size of the business, or the industry in which it operates, all-flash arrays offer a competitive edge and enhanced levels of productivity. “We predict that all-flash storage will completely transform the storage arena and see enterprise data centre evolve into one that can truly meet the needs of the digital age,” he concludes.

By Fred Saayman, Huawei BU Executive at Pinnacle

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