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How Flash is transforming the data centre one tier at a time

27th January 2015
Nat Bowers
Whitepapers

Flash is quickly becoming an integral part of daily operations at large data centres. As customers seek to address the 'mismatch' between increasing processor speeds and storage based on mechanically-driven HDDs, they are turning to flash, valuing the speed and performance associated with it. By Chris Gale, European Marketing Director, SanDisk.

Indeed, the change has been noted by IDC, who estimated last year that at least half of all enterprise IT organisations had deployed flash-enabled servers and storage arrays to support enterprise workloads. IDC also predicts that 80% of all storage devices to be shipped in 2015 will be flash-enabled. It is safe to say we are in the age of the Flash-Transformed Data Centre (FTDC).

This can be part explained by cloud computing continuing to gain a foothold in enterprise, placing cloud providers under increasing pressure to supply rock solid guarantees that focus on application performance and predictability. Such stipulations, as well as the mega trends of Big Data analytics, social media and mobility, all present challenges to IT organisations and mean they need to keep a pace with the high demand and workloads.

It is these combined pressures which are heralding the data centre transformation into what we are calling the FTDC, when every tier of the data centre is seeing rapid adoption of flash technology. But what exactly does this mean? And what does it mean for cloud reliant enterprises?

Firstly, flash deployed  in servers, storage, and networking appliances enables quicker processing - which in turn leads to  more complex analytics, better security and more environmentally friendly output.Flash allows for faster performance of applications in the cloud and provides support for the processing of large datasets without paying the penalty of slowed I/O operations through storage bottlenecks. It also supports Big Data analytics that find the 'patterns in the data' - resulting in actionable data for the business.

This is why cloud service providers, which are providing a range of business services via software as a service, are strongly adopting flash technology; valuing the speed and performance associated with it. That approach translates directly into value in delivering better and faster business services; a trend that will become increasingly important, as more IT data centres send more and more of their enterprise workloads to be hosted, and maintained, by outside cloud service providers or Co-Location hosters (CoLos) via cloud computing technology.

Flash also enables better security for businesses by increasing the speed at which data is analysed. In today’s information age, threats to business assets are often digital and the various applications and monitoring systems that exist to combat these threats all have one thing in common: the amount of data they have to analyse grows daily , while the window they have to respond is shrinking. Flash keeps the CPUs of security and compliance database fed with data to deliver reduced analysis times and faster automated response times.

Energy consumption is another reason for Flash’s increasing popularity. Gartner's research vice president Michael Bell, projects that more than 50% of data centres will exceed 6kW per rack within two years and that number will rise to 70-80% within four years due to the increased density of IT equipment. Bell concluded that “the cost is basically unsustainable" but the trend towards greater and greater infrastructure costs can be reversed with the deployment of flash in the data centre. Flash reduces power consumption in data centres by up to 90% for equivalent application performance by enabling data delivery at a sustainably faster rate and a fraction of the power. It eliminates the need for power-hungry IT equipment, thus reducing the data centre’s demand on energy while maintaining or increasing application performance, and in turn the huge cost of running these data centres.

Flash is therefore a key enabler, allowing the data centre to transform so that it can support the next wave of computing requirements, as it speeds performance of enterprise applications and databases, and makes those data results available to the businesses that need them more quickly.

It is for all these reasons that Flash will play a key role in the future of computing, as it continues to be incorporated into servers and storage arrays. As such, it will benefit all the major categories of enterprise and cloud solutions and so match the pace of today’s evolving business world.

For more information, please download 'The Flash-Transformed Data Center: Flash Adoption Is Growing Across the Enterprise' and 'Taming the Power Hungry Data Center '

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