The problem is that you don't get any SSD ROI at all if you don't make the investment at some point. That means there's no point in delaying purchases indefinitely to take advantage of falling prices, but it is worth watching the market to take advantage of any temporary price weakness. This could be caused by a supply glut or the end of a product's lifecycle.
You may decide to make SSD investments to coincide with the end of life of existing storage systems. If you are replacing HDDs then your hands will be tied to a certain extent because their proclivity to fail is a function of age and at a certain point they will need replacing.
But if you are investing in SSDs to replace existing SSDs then the story is somewhat different and you can increase the SSD ROI you get from your existing SSDs by keeping them in service for longer.
That's because SSDs' proclivity to fail is a function of use, not age, and thanks to SSD monitoring capabilities you can get an accurate picture of how much your SSDs have been used and how much life they have left in them, says Mark Peters, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. "SSDs have an elegant death, so you can manage and plan around that," he says.
He adds that manufacturer warranties can help ensure that the SSD ROI you get is not lower than you expect due to early failures, and anecdotal evidence suggests that vendors are not having problems with the guarantees they issue. That implies that enterprise SSDs are at least as reliable as had been expected by the vendors.
SSD ROI depends on what you buy
In financial investment management once you've decided on asset allocation you also have to make decisions around stock selection: which individual companies do you invest in? When it comes to storage this becomes a question of which SSDs should you buy.
"All flash is not the same, but many people seem to forget this," says Peters. "There is fast flash and less fast flash – just as there are fast and less fast disks."
What this means is that as well as choosing between HDD and SDD, you also have a choice between faster (and presumably more expensive) SDDs, and slower, cheaper ones. And longer lasting ones (backed by a vendor guarantee) or less reliable but less expensive ones.
To maximize SSD ROI it's not necessarily the case that you should choose one particular make and model of SSD. That's because by mixing attributes and costs you are more likely to get the exact blend of cost, reliability and performance that you need to maximize SSD ROI.
"Having a blend of SSDs will certainly make sense for some organizations," Peters says.
Loops and delays affect SSD ROI
Can Peters offer any other tips for companies to help them maximize their SSD ROI? It turns out that he does have one more. It concerns older applications that some organizations have developed themselves for internal use.
"These applications are often the center piece of the business, and some were written with loops and delays in them to make them wait for (slower) disks," he says. "To get the SSD ROI that you expect you many need to look at rewriting these applications – otherwise you may find that you can't actually benefit from the SSDs that you buy."