When it comes to data storage, the less IT organizations have to think about it, the happier they are. That’s the guiding principle behind a hybrid approach to data storage that spans magnetic disks and multiple types of solid-state drives (SSDs) that is being pursued by Dell.
To bolster that strategy, Dell today announced that it is offering a Flash optimized storage system that is priced less than 15K magnetic disk systems. In addition, Dell has developed a 5U rack capable of holding 336TB of magnetic disk storage.
According to Bob Fine, senior product marketing manager for Dell Storage, these two announcements highlight an effort by Dell to bring Flash storage to IT organizations at a cost they can afford, while making management of that storage seamless. To achieve the latter goal, when data is first stored on a Dell Compellent system, it is automatically deposited on an SSD based on multi-level cell (MLC) technology that is optimized for enterprise applications. As usage of the data declines, the data is then automatically moved to less expensive single level cell (SLC) SSDs. If it’s not used for an additional period of time, the Dell Compellent array will automatically move that data to magnetic storage.
Fine says that besides the cost of Flash storage, the single biggest inhibitor of Flash storage adoption is the complexity associated with managing it. By simplifying the management of data at a price point that is comparable to high-performance magnetic storage, Fine says the two biggest barriers to Flash memory adoption in the enterprise have now been effectively removed.
While the benefits of Flash go well beyond the price per gigabyte of storage, IT organizations have been waiting for Flash storage pricing to be comparable with magnetic storage before increasing their investment. As a private company, it’s pretty clear that storage is one of the primary areas with which Dell intends to be extremely price competitive in the enterprise. This is one reason that Dell was recently cited as the vendor most IT organizations expect to buy Flash storage from in a survey conducted by Storage Strategies NOW.
No one knows for certain how low Flash memory pricing can go in the enterprise, but it’s clear that Flash storage is going to replace high-end magnetic storage as the primary storage of choice. Of course, magnetic storage technology will continue to advance as well, which means IT organizations may be dealing with hybrid storage platforms for decades to come.