There is a significant amount of buzz around flash storage. In this month’s Tech Download, we sat down with Jim Griffiths, FoxNet’s Tech Architect, to chat about it.
Interviewer: What is Flash Storage?
Jim: Flash Storage is any type of data storage that uses flash memory. You have it on your USB drive, memory cards for your camera, and even laptops now have flash storage in them. Flash storage is also implemented in other products such as stick drives and SD flash cards.
Flash storage is fast read/write computer memory that holds it’s memory when you turn it off.
Interviewer: Why should a business owner or enterprise be interested in flash storage?
Jim: One of the problems with storage is that traditional storage is made up of spinning disks (known as Hard Disk Drives or HDDs), so what you’ll have is slow HDDs that are running most people’s data storage. Over the last couple of years, the cost of flash storage has gone down and it’s become viable to put that in as storage for computer systems (referred to as Solid State Drives or SSDs).
The advantage is that it’s a heck of a lot faster than using HDDs – an HDD might deliver a 200 IOPS, an SSD drive may be inm the range of 100,000 IOPS. (IOPS, or Input/Output operations Per Second, is the rate at which data is read from or written to storage devices see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IOPS).
For data storage, people used to have to use HDDs, but now Flash Storage can hold larger amounts of storage space and is viable to use for primary storage. Things are changing.
The future will be flash storage because flash drives now are up in the range of 16TB on a disk and growing. What it’s really meant for is high performance applications, high performance databases, big data, and all of those kinds of things. That’s where it gets the most use, and that’s what people are looking for. For anyone who needs to store or retrieve data quickly, flash storage is the way to go.
Interviewer: If someone is looking for storage for their company or enterprise, what criteria would you say they should look at – whether they should go disc or flash?
Jim: It’s not that simple. What a lot of people are doing these days is using it in heavily virtualized environments, and it makes sense to have flash storage to be able to run the applications and databases. For the really high performance, definitely use flash. For slower stuff, use HDD storage. For backups, where data is stored but less frequently accessed, use HDDs.
What some manufacturers have done is put together hybrid systems, so they have some flash storage in their systems and they have some HDDs in their systems. So for performance they use the flash, and for the capacity storage they use spinning disk. Flash storage is still more expensive, and there can be additional costs for hybrid solutions.
Interviewer: Who supplies this flash storage?
Jim: All of the major vendors have flash storage solutions now. We have seen a lot of tech startups that have flash storage, and all of the hyper-convergence vendors make flash storage and hybrid options. Most hyper-convergence solutions tend to rely heavily on flash storage.
Interviewer: What do you suggest?
Jim: It all comes down to requirements. If they have a requirement for high performance storage, or a requirement for a heavily virtualized environment, then flash storage is probably one of the things they’re going to want to look at. They are going to rely on a company like FoxNet to help them with this decision. A lot of companies can get away with a regular spinning disk; spinning disk is cheaper than flash storage. While spinning disk is cheaper, flash storage is better for high performance, and although the cost is coming down, you pay the price to get it.
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