Welcome!

Containers Expo Blog Authors: Carl J. Levine, Elizabeth White, Chris Colosimo, SmartBear Blog, XebiaLabs Blog

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo

Containers Expo Blog: Blog Post

Tech Primer: When and What to Move to Flash Storage | @CloudExpo #Cloud #Storage #DataCenter

Flash storage continues to evolve. Early adopters need to keep up on new developments and flash-related schools of thought

Tech Primer: When and What to Move to Flash Storage

Flash storage has become a mainstream technology, with 451 Research expecting the market to reach $9.6 billion by 2020. As the technology becomes less cost-prohibitive, and benefits such as its exponentially greater performance capabilities and simplified process for provisioning and optimizing systems become more sought after, it's clear that the future of storage is flash. But while some organizations may have taken advantage of the burgeoning technology's benefits early on, a significant number of companies have yet to make the transition. Your organization may very well fall into this category.

For you late adopters who have yet to integrate flash storage but are preparing for a move, here are a few key guidelines to follow when considering when and what to move to flash.

When to move (and how to do it)
If your organization hasn't moved to flash yet, you need to at least be considering it. The technology has become so prevalent in the industry that the cost to performance ratio, which used to be a significant hurdle for many businesses, is ideal. That ratio continues to improve each day, meaning the longer you continue to delay a move to flash, the more infrastructure costs you'll see wasted on disk storage.

Of course, like any other technology change or upgrade, there are several challenges that can complicate adoption. To ensure the integration of flash storage is as beneficial and seamless as possible, you must appropriately prepare prior to the purchase. This should revolve around a proof-of-concept exercise that encourages your organization to clearly detail the performance needs of any applications you will move to flash, which will help to provide an understanding of what performance quality will look like down the road.

A proof of concept is especially important if your organization will need to implement an entirely new infrastructure to support the addition of flash storage. If that's the case, the cost will extend beyond simply purchasing a flash device, so it's critical to have an understanding of how your business will benefit from flash to appropriately make the business case and see a worthwhile ROI.

Here are a few key questions you should ask yourself when considering a move to flash:

  • What are the application performance requirements?
  • Am I moving everything to flash, or something specific?
  • Is that application, code and infrastructure optimized for flash?
  • If I'm purchasing a solution from a new vendor, how will that work with what I already have?
  • Do I have the right management and monitoring tools?
  • Do I have or need data reduction technology?

Given that nearly all hardware vendors offer some kind of flash solution, many organizations struggle to decide where to look when purchasing a device - a legacy vendor or a startup? There are certainly pros and cons to each, and this is another facet of a flash migration that will be made smoother by a proof-of-concept exercise.

For example, if you're looking for a cutting-edge solution, startups like Nimble and Pure aren't burdened by legacy infrastructure and have a singular focus that lends itself to product innovation that you may not see from some of the mainstay players. On the other hand, if you need a globalized solution with mature storage monitoring and management capabilities, legacy vendors are often the best choice as they have been driving flash technology forward for several years, whereas startups are still playing catchup on some of what might be considered more traditional features.

What to move (and why)
Once your organization has done its due diligence in terms of understanding performance needs, how they can be met by a flash implementation and which vendor and device to work with, it's time to consider what data should be migrated.

Generally speaking, flash capacity should be allotted to any applications and associated data that have unpredictable, high I/O requirements (perhaps an employee-facing web application that could be accessed by hundreds of people at different times of day). Flash is especially good for things like VDI, which requires high IOPs but little actual storage space - without flash, you would historically buy a storage array with hundreds of hard drives, much of that space ultimately going unused - just to provide the performance needed to handle boot storms. Flash delivers that performance capacity and more, and without causing the business to waste resources by over-purchasing storage resources.

Flash should also be used to support things like virtualized server solutions. While applications are being consolidated to lower costs and maximize the investment your IT department is making in its servers, all of that data still needs to sit on a shared storage device. The performance capabilities of flash will ensure that data won't be subject to bottlenecks or latency. Similarly, business-critical applications and services like SQL Server, SharePoint, Oracle, and, as mentioned, VDI, to name a few, should also sit on a flash storage device to maintain productivity and efficiency.

Best practices
The above guidelines to successfully prepare for and implement a flash solution is a good starting point on your organization's journey to flash. To help ensure your business is able to realize the full benefits of a flash integration in the future, you should look to leverage several key best practices:

  • Understand your performance needs. Surprisingly, all too often, storage administrators and other IT professionals will rush to implement flash devices without considering what level of performance they actually need. The answer should go beyond, "My current storage solution is slow and I need something faster." Think about your block size requirements for each application and associated latency requirements, as well as the performance ranges for each (i.e., do you anticipate daily, weekly or monthly spikes?). This is why a proof of concept exercise is valuable - to show what performance quality will look like over a period of time to help inform configuration and provisioning decisions.
  • Prepare for growth. While the capacity and functionality of flash technology continues to grow, so too will your organization's amount of data to be stored. Data reduction technologies will certainly help, but your organization should plan to prioritize what data gets stored on flash, and what can remain on existing storage solutions. At the end of the day, you need to balance the ROI of a flash investment against everything else in the data center.
  • Know your bottlenecks. With flash storage, which delivers much-enhanced performance, storage will no longer be the first piece of infrastructure to shoulder the bottleneck blame. However, you will now need to find the new cause of a bottleneck and to do so, must have a fundamental understanding of your organization's infrastructure. Is it the network or the server? Is the application optimized? Could it stem from database code? A comprehensive, full application stack monitoring system should be implemented to provide deep visibility into the health of physical infrastructure and across applications and environments (on-premises and in the cloud) that will enable you to more easily find the source of a new bottleneck.

Conclusion
Flash storage continues to evolve. Early adopters need to keep up on new technology developments and flash-related schools of thought. In addition to larger capacity flash drives, there are still newer technologies to consider, such as NVMe and 3D Xpoint, that can potentially be implemented if/when performance or business requirements change. However, for late adopters that are preparing for a move, these guidelines around when, what and how to integrate flash, as well as the accompanying best practices for future management, will ideally position you to quickly ramp up and benefit quickly from a flash storage adoption.

More Stories By James Honey

James Honey is a senior product marketing manager for SolarWinds. He has more than 15 years of experience in the IT industry, focused specifically on storage technologies and virtualization solutions for SMBs to enterprise environments. His current role includes responsibility for all storage monitoring and management-related product marketing initiatives, including SolarWinds Storage Resource Monitor.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ocean9will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ocean9 provides cloud services for Backup, Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) and instant Innovation, and redefines enterprise infrastructure with its cloud native subscription offerings for mission critical SAP workloads.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), will provide an overview of various initiatives to certifiy the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldw...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Technologic Systems Inc., an embedded systems solutions company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Technologic Systems is an embedded systems company with headquarters in Fountain Hills, Arizona. They have been in business for 32 years, helping more than 8,000 OEM customers and building over a hundred COTS products that have never been discontinued. Technologic Systems’ pr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, will posit that disruption is inevitable for c...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buyers...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Infranics will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Since 2000, Infranics has developed SysMaster Suite, which is required for the stable and efficient management of ICT infrastructure. The ICT management solution developed and provided by Infranics continues to add intelligence to the ICT infrastructure through the IMC (Infra Management Cycle) based on mathemat...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SD Times | BZ Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BZ Media LLC is a high-tech media company that produces technical conferences and expositions, and publishes a magazine, newsletters and websites in the software development, SharePoint, mobile development and commercial UAV markets.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
"I think that everyone recognizes that for IoT to really realize its full potential and value that it is about creating ecosystems and marketplaces and that no single vendor is able to support what is required," explained Esmeralda Swartz, VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud at Ericsson, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.