Welcome!

Containers Expo Blog Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Nate Vickery

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
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in compute, storage and networking technologies, 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. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Analytic. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
With billions of sensors deployed worldwide, the amount of machine-generated data will soon exceed what our networks can handle. But consumers and businesses will expect seamless experiences and real-time responsiveness. What does this mean for IoT devices and the infrastructure that supports them? More of the data will need to be handled at - or closer to - the devices themselves.
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists will examine how DevOps helps to meet th...
Judith Hurwitz is president and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates, a Needham, Mass., research and consulting firm focused on emerging technology, including big data, cognitive computing and governance. She is co-author of the book Cognitive Computing and Big Data Analytics, published in 2015. Her Cloud Expo session, "What Is the Business Imperative for Cognitive Computing?" is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8, at 8:40 a.m. In it, she puts cognitive computing into perspective with its value to the busin...
Five years ago development was seen as a dead-end career, now it’s anything but – with an explosion in mobile and IoT initiatives increasing the demand for skilled engineers. But apart from having a ready supply of great coders, what constitutes true ‘DevOps Royalty’? It’ll be the ability to craft resilient architectures, supportability, security everywhere across the software lifecycle. In his keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Jeffrey Scheaffer, GM and SVP, Continuous Delivery Busine...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, 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. Juniper Networks challenges the status quo with products, solutions and services that transform the economics of networking. The company co-innovates with customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable and secure network...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
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...
Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the USA and Europe, we work with a variety of customers from emerging startups to Fortune 1000 companies.
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, 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. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
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...
The age of Digital Disruption is evolving into the next era – Digital Cohesion, an age in which applications securely self-assemble and deliver predictive services that continuously adapt to user behavior. Information from devices, sensors and applications around us will drive services seamlessly across mobile and fixed devices/infrastructure. This evolution is happening now in software defined services and secure networking. Four key drivers – Performance, Economics, Interoperability and Trust ...
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...