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March 8, 2016updated 28 Mar 2017 5:32pm

Flash Storage Hits the Mainstream

By John Oates

A lot of us are already using Flash drives instead of traditional hard drives in our laptops and desktop computers. The difference in start-up time is startling and there’s none of that whirring and waiting when you close or save a file.

But there are bigger benefits going on under the hood which we’re less likely to notice – like power consumption – which make Flash a very tempting technology for use in data centres and other big storage environments.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s latest announcement in this area is aims to bring the benefits of Flash storage to everyone from small and medium businesses to the big enterprise.

This year seems likely to be when the technology really hits the mainstream for enterprise computing beyond the laptop.

Traditionally the drawbacks of Flash storage were cost and issues with controllers.

HPE’s rack-based StoreServ system aims to speed up moves to all-Flash data centres for the same price point as disc-based systems. Additionally the controllers allow you to run discs as part of your architecture while making the move.

Price means there will still be a role for old school hard discs in many enterprises– where speed and power consumption are less important than really big capacity. But prices for solid state memory are only going one way – industry predictions are that within two to four years the price per gigabyte for spinning discs and solid state will be the same.

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Apart from improved traditional benchmarks like footprint, power consumption and performance the move to Flash, with its lower latency, can also help accelerate big data projects and enable faster business decision making.

Getting fast access to your business’s data requires a modern storage architecture – and that means Flash.

Unfortunately it is not entirely perfect. There is still uncertainty as to exactly how many times you can write to Flash without having problems. But then spinning hard discs are far from perfect either.

Anyone considering adding storage functions whether at a high-end data centre or smaller business will be looking at Flash this year. There might still be an argument for buying discs, but their advantages look likely to fade fast.

There’s more from HPE here:

https://www.hpe.com/uk/en/storage/flash-hybrid.html

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