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All-flash, hybrid, or converged – which is the right storage solution for your business?

Phil Davis, Vice President & General Manager for Storage, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Asia Pacific and Japan | Jan. 28, 2016
Phil Davis of HP talks about the different flash arrays to enable companies to decide which flash storage would be a perfect fit for their business.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

A massive change in enterprise data storage is underway as more companies switch to flash-based storage arrays. A recent Gartner report projects that by 2019, 20% of traditional high-end storage arrays will be replaced by dedicated solid-state arrays.


For one thing, flash storage uses less capacity and physical space while performing more I/O operations per second with lower latencies. This not only boosts productivity and reduces capital expense, it helps organizations save money with lower power consumption and the ability to consolidate more applications onto fewer machines. As a relatively new technology, flash-based media costs more than traditional spinning disks when compared gigabyte-for-gigabyte. As a result, flash storage is often reserved for use only with high-performance applications, or as a precious resource for only a sub-set of application data.

However, rapidly dropping prices and new flash-efficiency boosting technologies are moving flash-based enterprise data storage into the mainstream. Combine these savings with increased performance and user experience benefits, and flash storage has an impressive ROI.But where is the best place to start bringing flash into your environment?

There are three ways you might think of deploying flash storage:

1.     Traditional Hybrid Flash Arrays: This type of storage system combines a small amount (typically less than 10%) of flash media with a majority of hard disk drives (HDDs), using block-level tiering to deliver better performance than HDDs alone with equivalent cost.

2.     All-Flash Arrays: Using nothing but solid-state drives (SSDs), all-flash arrays give you the best performance-including lowest latency-possible from a storage system. Compaction technologies like deduplication and larger-capacity SSDs can bring all-flash costs close to HDD levels.

3.     Converged Flash Arrays: This new class of storage array features a flash-first design that pegs entire applications or data volumes to flash like an all-flash array, but also supports HDDs for greater scalability and the ability to place some data on spinning drives-for example, as that data ages.

But how do you figure out if flash is right for you, and if it is, what sort of flash array do you need? Here's an intro to these three types of flash arrays and how they may fit in your environment.

Traditional Hybrid Flash Array
Available for years, the goal of this type of system design to get the performance of flash but only use premium flash-based media sparingly so you can lower total cost and also tap into the larger capacities available on HDDs. Most disk arrays include auto-tiering capabilities to tap into SSDs as premium data tier. Hybrid flash arrays offer a price per GB that is generally more than HDD-based storage arrays, but far less than all-flash storage arrays.


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