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August 5, 2015

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ICG-flash-storage

Does Your Business Need Flash Storage?

More than 50 years ago, IBM shipped the first hard-disk drive (HDD) — a one-ton behemoth the size of two refrigerators that contained 50 pizza-size spinning storage disks. Its storage capacity was a whopping 5MB.

 

Data storage has come a long way as scientists have gradually added more and more information on HDDs that continue to become smaller, faster and less expensive. However, today’s HDDs have the same drawbacks as their ancestors — spinning disks that limit read/write response times, weaken durability, and require costly power and cooling.

 

Enter the flash-based solid-state drive (SSD), a data storage unit with small chips and no moving parts. Although this technology was first introduced in the late 1980s, it has really taken off during the past five years.

 

Price points for flash storage have dropped dramatically and are expected to fall even further. As a result, many enterprises have adopted hybrid storage solutions that include a combination of SSDs, which typically store data that is most frequently used, and HDDs, which house data that simply needs to be stored. All-flash arrays are also increasingly popular.

 

Consider three key advantages of flash storage:

 

  • By using flash memory instead of spinning disks, data access times are virtually instantaneous — 250 times faster than HDDs.

 

  • From a durability standpoint, HDDs can be ruined — and data lost — because of a simple scratch on the disk caused by vibrations. SSDs, with flash memory and no moving parts, have been tested to withstand a 10-foot drop.

 

  • Because HDDs spin all the time, they use significant amounts of energy. Enterprises must also make significant investments in the installation, maintenance and monitoring of cooling systems that reduce hot temperatures caused by spinning disks in HDDs. Power and cooling costs are drastically reduced by flash storage.

 

All of these factors – superior performance, greater durability and significantly lower energy consumption – have reduced the total cost of ownership for flash storage. Although SSDs are still more expensive than HDDs, they offer a cost-effective solution for organizations that require better performance for virtual, cloud and big data applications.

 

You should seriously consider flash storage if:

 

  • Critical business applications are performing poorly and hampering productivity.

 

  • You plan to launch new business initiatives and processes that may not be properly supported by your existing storage technology.

 

  • Your data center has outgrown its existing physical space and power capacity. These requirements can be decreased by more than 75 percent with flash storage.

 

  • You’re considering a virtual data center.

 

With operational savings and lower pricing that reduce total cost of ownership, flash-based SSDs have emerged to provide a viable alternative — or a valuable partner — to HDDs. As the storage needs of your business grow and evolve, let ICG help you evaluate the wide range of flash storage solutions that are now available.

February 13, 2015

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ICG-Cloud-storage-or-NAS

Cloud Storage, NAS or Both?

The simultaneous explosions of big data and mobility have organizations scrambling to figure out the best way to store and back up data. While the amount of data being produced and the number of devices being used has skyrocketed, storage and backup strategies haven’t been able to keep up. This can have a significant impact on performance, productivity, customer service and disaster recovery.

 

There are two primary storage options for small to midsize businesses:

 

Cloud-based storage has emerged as an appealing option because capital expenses are minimal and storage management becomes the responsibility of the cloud service provider. The provider is responsible for purchasing, maintaining and updating the storage infrastructure. By storing and backing up data remotely, organizations can avoid the cost of constantly adding storage capacity while improving disaster recovery. However, latency and bandwidth issues are common drawbacks of the cloud, especially with the high-performance demands of primary storage.

 

Network-attached storage (NAS) is a storage appliance that has its own IP address and is connected to the network. Primarily used for file sharing and storage, some modern NAS devices can also be used as multimedia, print, email and database servers. To enhance disaster recovery, NAS products can be configured for data backup and monitoring, and a failing disk drive can be “hot-swapped” with a new drive without shutting down the NAS.

 

There are a number of factors to consider when evaluating cloud storage and NAS:

 

  • NAS typically costs more upfront because you have to purchase, install and configure the device. As storage demands increase, you’ll probably have to purchase larger hard drives or add more hard drives. Without careful planning, you could end up buying more than you need. The ongoing monthly cost of cloud storage may be more expensive over time, but you’ll never have to purchase more hardware.

 

  • The cloud offers virtually unlimited storage capacity. When you need more storage, you upgrade your plan. While NAS allows for hard drives to be replaced or added, each hard drive does have finite capacity.

 

  • Features and Expertise. As mentioned previously, NAS devices have an impressive list of valuable features and capabilities. On the other hand, cloud storage enables you to tap into other cloud-based solutions such as compression and de-duplication, both of which can improve storage efficiency. You can also take advantage of a cloud service provider’s expertise and around-the-clock service.

 

  • Security and Control. NAS enables you to host and control your own data, and to use encryption tools and user access controls to secure your information. This can be a double-edged sword as data security requires significant IT resources and expertise. With the cloud, security is the responsibility of the provider, but you must trust an outside party with your data.

 

Instead of choosing between cloud storage and NAS, you may want to consider a hybrid approach. For example, mission-critical data that is accessed and modified most often can be stored in a NAS device, while archival data is stored in the cloud. Many vendors also offer hybrid solutions.

Developing an efficient storage strategy without compromising performance is as complicated as it is important. Let ICG help you analyze your IT environment and recommend a storage solution that meets your specific storage needs now and in the future.