There is so much going on in the enterprise SSD marketplace that those seeking to procure more flash storage may be understandably confused about which brand or type of flash is right for them. And the vendors don’t really help. Most do a fine job of hyping up their products as being perfect for everything. But that is rarely the case.
Here are some of the top tips and trends in the enterprise SSD market that might help in the buying and implementation phase.
1. Examine Enterprise SSD Upgrade and Maintenance Programs.
There are a lot of flash options out there. Every week there are new flash configurations and enterprise SSD arrays being released. So who is who among this jumble of vendors?
The traditional storage stalwarts are well represented, as are a large number of startups and relatively new faces. The problem is, however, many offerings sound so similar.
Mark Peters, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, noted a trend within the market of expanded flash upgrades and maintenance programs as vendors seek to differentiate themselves from competitors. "This is where the fight is going to be," said Peters.
2. Enterprise SSD Speed Is Less Important.
The hardware used in servers and storage used to be a major point of pride and product differentiation. But commoditization of hardware has changed that. Similarly, in the enterprise SSD space, fast flash has largely become a commodity, too.
“As flash continues to get optimized, it will be hard to fight by saying flash is fast, because all flash is fast now,” said Chris Tsilipounidakis, manager of product marketing at Tegile.
3. Performance Plus Is the New Differentiator.
Most vendors are emphasizing add-ons from mere speed in recent enterprise SSD announcements.
“New vendors are going one step further by offering aggressive programs that push on performance, capacity and economics,” said Tsilipounidakis. “Users should look at more than just product features and take advantage of creative programs that come with many flash arrays that can make the entire IT team’s job easier.”
4. New Enterprise SSDs Put Disk at Risk.
With the economics of flash continuing to improve steadily, some say the future of the hard disk drive (HDD) is at risk. But just as tape never went away, and in fact has lately gained a new head of steam courtesy of its suitability to long-term archiving, it is doubtful that disk will die, as some vendors proclaim.
That said, there is no doubt disk is being assailed on all sides as a viable home for many forms of storage. Disk took another hit with recent advances in enterprise SSD technology.
“SSDs are evolving with increased densities and lower cost per GB,” said Chadd Kenney, CTO, Americas, Pure Storage. “3D NAND further advanced the economic shift by providing better resiliency and an even better cost per GB. This trend is causing enterprise IT decision makers to pause and question if disk is still an option for performance-centric workloads.”
This shift enables users to utilize flash in a more widespread fashion throughout the enterprise. As opposed to purely high-performance needs, it is also finding itself a home to many capacity-based applications. Recent Wikibon studies are even suggesting that flash-based solutions with data reduction have crossed over the line and become cheaper per GB than disk.
5. Take Note of Parallelization.
Another trend to note is parallelization. Pure Storage, for example, has released a file and object solution, FlashBlade, which interfaces directly with NAND flash. Interfacing with the flash directly allows it to utilize parallelization of flash devices and derive better performance as each blade pairs compute and storage together. Blades can be added one at a time (fifteen per chassis), resulting in linear performance growth alongside capacity.
At less than $1/GB usable, said Kenney, this enables flash to be utilized outside of the traditional virtualization and database environments, and now apply the technology to the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, software development and rich media.