Achieving Better Enterprise IT Performance with Flash Memory

Michael Vizard

With all the major storage vendors starting to load up on Flash memory, things have never been better for IT from a performance perspective.

Officially joining the Flash memory fray this week was Hitachi Data Systems, which unveiled the Hitachi Accelerated Flash Storage, a flash memory array that customers can plug into the Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP). According to Roberto Basilio, Hitachi Accelerated Flash Storage, which is based on new HDS Flash controller technology, essentially adds another tier of storage to a VSP platform that is designed from the ground up to automate the management of data across multiple classes of storage devices.

Meanwhile, NetApp extended its line of storage offerings with the addition of midrange FAS 3220 and FAS 3250 systems that can be configured with 1 to 2MB of Flash memory and up to 480 and 720 drives, respectively. According to Raj Das, NetApp senior director for product management, the goal with these systems is to broaden the number of systems with Flash memory that NetApp offers small-to-medium (SMB) customers.

There’s no shortage of Flash memory storage options these days. In fact, the HDS and NetApp offerings come on the heels of a new Flash-memory storage system from IBM that was announced earlier this week, and a new set of storage systems from Hewlett-Packard that was unveiled last week.

Thanks to virtualization, IT organizations are running more applications than ever per server, so the widespread availability of storage systems configured with Flash memory is a welcome relief. Much of this trend stems from the popularity of smartphones and tablets, which in turn is helping to drive down the cost of Flash memory for enterprise systems.

At the same time, disk drives themselves are getting faster. Seagate, for example, recently unveiled 2.5-inch, 10K-RPM hard drive, called the Seagate Enterprise Performance 10K HDD, that is 21 percent faster while still matching the sustained data transfer rates found in 15K-RPM, 3.5-inch drives. According to Barbara Craig, senior product marketing manager for Seagate, the new Seagate drives offer up to 900GB of storage in a small form factor, which is 50 percent more capacity using 70 percent less space than the highest capacity 3.5-inch 15K drive.

Of course, the number of processor cores and amount of memory available on servers is also increasing, so we’re starting to see advances on both the server and storage side of the I/O equation that are providing better performance across a broad range of price points. IT organizations, therefore, should start planning for 2013 accordingly.



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