Evolution Toward an All Flash Data Center Can No Longer Be Ignored

Syed Masroor

One of the key technologies redefining storage is flash which, in the words of Syed Masroor, Sales Director – Flash, EMC India, is increasingly on the shopping list of CIOs and IT organizations. The reasons are plenty: rapidly declining cost, its superior performance for primary applications and greater flexibility, to name a few. Here are some edited excerpts from an interview to dynamicCIO:

Flash was hyped up as the next big thing in enterprise storage but it doesn't seem to have been adopted in a major way, especially by Indian companies. Is that perception correct?

Flash is rapidly disrupting the disk status quo and is being embraced by Indian companies across sectors. As flash is becoming more pervasive, optimized, and affordable, new applications and new storage software stacks are also emerging that are built “ground-up” for solid-state. Thus today, flash storage has value in a number of implementations within and across the storage infrastructure—be that in storage systems themselves, in servers, or in the network.

What market trends and growth opportunities do you see in the Indian market?
The economics and performance of flash are at a point where the technology can have a revolutionary impact on enterprises, especially for transaction-intensive applications. India's digital information explosion in the enterprise space is being driven by things like BYOD, evolving policy landscape demanding greater compliance, the increasing use of technologies like web 2.0 and virtualization (desktop, servers etc.) and applications like CRM, ERP and database analytics, among others. To manage this information explosion, it is important for enterprises to invest in technologies that can help them drive better operational efficiencies and save costs. This is leading to the growth of technologies like flash and virtualization.


Earlier, flash was considered much more expensive and restricted to certain types of usage. How has the situation changed now?
Flash is expensive but efficiency technologies built into AFAs (all-flash arrays) make flash affordable. The absolute cost of flash storage has been coming down significantly over the last few years that makes the relative cost per TB of storage more attractive than ever in a flash vs. traditional array. Flash arrays have a higher performance throughput, which allows you to use fewer arrays to manage the same workloads, especially when you run sophisticated in-line data reduction technologies (with no performance impact), which identifies and removes unnecessary multiple copies of the same information. Traditional disk doesn’t have the performance to run this sort of de-duplication software in real-time so you need more capacity to support the same amount of data. Additionally, as workload capacities demand higher throughput rates (measured in inputs/outputs per second or IOPS), many enterprises are finding their workloads are perfectly positioned for flash's cost-to-performance ratio.

What role are flash arrays playing in the move toward software-defined data centers?
Flash is beginning to affect every type of data center workload and application. Flash-based storage systems not only accelerate performance, they also bring IT flexibility and business agility into the overall IT equation—a must for CIOs who are continually challenged to maintain budgets—while increasing business agility and lowering TCO. Business economics are affected by the decision to deploy flash in enterprise systems.

Now, there are many variables to consider when it comes to how flash can increase the efficiency and ROI of a data center– IOPS, watts, rack and even capacity. One thing is certain: IT organizations can no longer afford to ignore the evolution toward an all-flash data center. Clearly, adoption is covering more ground – driving broader use across large data centers. This means that flash is being leveraged in more applications and databases – and that the performance gains for data-intensive and mission-critical workloads are deepening adoption in many organizations.

Going forward, with cloud on their mind, why would CIOs bother about buying flash or any type of storage at all, especially for new or additional requirements?
Cloud is an architecture that gives a customer extreme flexibility and scalability. Customers deploy cloud on-premise and also subscribe to such services off-premise. Flash technologies are the foundation on which cloud deployments happen and that’s the reason we are seeing a huge adoption of flash in such deployments. All-flash systems have the capability to help a customer build an on-prem cloud and also help them bridge or extend this to an off-prem cloud service. Flash remains key for any customer with cloud on their mind.



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