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.