Flash Strengthens Its Foothold in Enterprise Storage

Posted on June 17, 2016 By Pedro Hernandez


Flash is decidedly mainstream, according to the latest Voice of the Enterprise from analyst firm 451 Research.

Polling 1,000 IT professionals, the firm discovered that nearly 90 percent of organizations use some form of flash-based storage in their data centers. Hybrid flash SAN storage arrays, which typically combine solid-state drive (SSD) capacity with traditional disk drives, are the most common found those environments (51 percent). Another 29 percent of organizations are expected to deploy hybrid flash systems within two years.

All-flash arrays are quickly gaining ground. Twenty-seven percent of those polled said they have already deployed all-flash storage systems and another 28 percent plant to incorporate the tech in the next two years.

Flash has emerged as a bright spot in the declining market for enterprise storage systems.

The all-flash array market generated $794.8 million in the first quarter of 2016, an 87.4 percent year-over-year increase, according to IDC's latest figures. Meanwhile, storage vendors generated $2.2 billion hybrid flash array sales.

"Organizations of all sizes are looking to transform their storage infrastructures to drive both improved performance and efficiency, and Flash-based approaches are at the heart of this transformation," said 451 Research vice president Simon Robinson in a statement. In terms of all-flash storage, some enterprises are finding it a tough sell.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest barrier to all-flash array adoption was cost. Fifty-one percent of respondents said the technology was too expensive and 47 percent said their current setups perform well enough, obviating the need to upgrade to all-flash storage architectures.

"While all-Flash approaches have gained substantial momentum in recent years and will continue to grow in popularity, it's also clear that many prospective buyers still view these solutions as cost-prohibitive," said Robinson. "We expect these barriers to erode over time, but most enterprise decision-makers will continue to use a blend of Flash and HDD-based storage technologies for the foreseeable future."

Among all-flash storage vendors, EMC is the company to beat. 451 Research has some encouraging news for "flash-first" providers and startups. The firm found that smaller vendors like Pure Storage are grabbing the attention of IT managers and executives, with a quarter of those surveyed saying that they are considering purchasing from Pure in 2016.

To make the most of their pricey flash storage, most organizations are using compression and deduplication, to the tune of 2x to 5x capacity savings (59 percent). The top use cases for all-flash arrays are databases and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). 451 Research expects data analytics to catapult the application category into the top two use cases within two years.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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