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Op-Ed: Storage in a flash

By Alyssa Sellors     Jan 11, 2014 in Business
It seems that every New Year another new device or innovative technology hits the market. 2013 saw the death of some entire industries as a result of our increasingly digitized world, but is that such a bad thing?
Some industries died out altogether, such as movie rental companies, while others are dying a more slow death, such as book stores. The same is true for businesses who are increasingly adding data storage needs to their IT budgets every year. The problem is that all of this data has to be stored somewhere, and for businesses, efficiency and cost are two top major factors. As consumers we just know that our smartphones save our contacts and videos and anything else we store and that our laptops or desktops save our Word documents and other media files, but if more of what we do day-to-day is going digital, will that also affect storage options on our favorite devices too? This may not be a point to ponder for the average individual but there are these and larger concerns for IT administrators and developers trying to cut cost while optimizing storage options and efficiency.
Flash storage is essentially a data repository or system that uses flash memory, ranging from portable USB jump drives to enterprise-class array-based memory systems. Flash storage has no mechanical parts and uses electricity to function. Beyond being an eco-friendly “green” option, flash storage is also more than 100 times faster than traditional mechanical hard drives. Businesses that have applications that are I/O intensive, such as credit card processing systems, could benefit from flash storage as it is known to be more effective and cost effective than the traditional hard drive for storage, but other businesses can also reap the benefits of flash as well.
In a recent article in Computer Weekly entitled, “Flash storage second wave to hit in 2014,” the author discusses the evolving nature of flash storage. The first “wave,” the author claims, was the arrival of flash as a main stream technology that was more accessible to all users. This first wave was all about “bringing technology to market to fit specific use-cases or application issues,” but that technology is now maturing. Flash is maturing, with an enhanced focus on features and functionality in addition to accessibility.
A few of the major players in the flash storage game this year appear to be Dell, NetApp, and Nible Storage, to name just a few. Each of these companies uses existing platforms as the basis for their flash products, making their new product easier and more user-friendly for their current customers. Dell flash storage solutions enables IT administrators to target specific applications with optimized, high-performance, low latency storage, which means a more efficient and high-end structured database for businesses. Another great benefit here is cost. With this storage solution, you can have flash at the price of disk. Nimble Storage offers hybrid storage solutions in addition to flash storage. Most flash storage systems are made up of a memory unit that stores the data and an access controller that manages the access to the storage space. HHDs, or hybrid hard drives, use both the flash storage system as well as the hard drive storage system, allowing users to consolidate storage for multiple workloads onto a single array, combining the performance of flash with the capacity of disk storage. In addition, other companies such as enterprise storage providers, service manufacturers, and chip makers are also entering the flash market this year.
The speed for both reading and writing data in virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments is essential to effectively manage and maintain performance, especially during “boom storms” or I/O spikes. IT professionals and businesses everywhere must make decisions when it comes to storage options and flash appears to be an increasingly more popular option for its adaptability, efficiency, and eco-friendly nature.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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