Welcome!

Containers Expo Blog Authors: William Schmarzo, Elizabeth White, Mehdi Daoudi, APM Blog, Stackify 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
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, 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 buye...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, 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.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things’). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing? IoT is not about the devices, it’s about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. In his session at Internet of Things at Cloud Expo | DXWor...