All-flash storage has become a big trend not only in the consumer market with phones and laptops but also in the enterprise, with companies like EMC and Pure Storage dominating the news and the market. Does this mean traditional hard disk storage is dead? Not exactly.
Two big benefits of this non-volatile memory are that it does not require power to maintain stored data integrity, and it resists wear and tear better than traditional hard drives. These two combined have made it the storage of choice for mobile devices and, more recently, enterprise-class arrays as well. Also, since there are no moving mechanical parts, it to uses less power and has incredibly fast access times—nanoseconds, rather than milliseconds. That difference in speed means flash storage’s latency is several orders of magnitude lower, which can make or break some applications.
In fact, the improvements flash storage has made are such that data centers are trending more and more toward all-flash storage in place of traditional mechanical hard drives or a hybrid mix. While it is still quite expensive, the high IOPS and low latency flash delivers are worth it to many businesses running high-performance applications. Flash storage is also a better solution for big data analytics, which has been a driving trend in the industry.
What does this mean for traditional storage methods? Have they gone the way of the dodo? Not yet. It all depends on what your applications require. Spinning disks are still the prevalent storage method in desktops, and the expense of flash is still a turnoff for some organizations. SAS storage, for example, still provides high performance for applications that require low latency, and is a viable option for smaller businesses that don’t need or want to spend as much money for flash storage. And when it comes to backup storage, which typically requires very large volumes of storage, traditional hard disks offer a much more viable solution than flash.
Flash storage is becoming more normal for various applications, especially those that require low latency and high performance. More and more data centers are offering all-flash arrays for enterprise-class customers, yet there are still some cases where traditional SAS or other hard drives are more appropriate for enterprise applications. Which kind of storage is best for your business? That’s up to you to decide.