The Impact of Flash in the Data Center

Male hands holding older and newer technology together, a concept

Flash memory is efficient and small, which is one reason it’s been a staple in iPods for the past decade. Flash storage lets users load hundreds of songs, apps, and photos in pocket-sized devices. Until the past few years, however, scaling the technology to data center proportions has proven costly. Like all technologies, ongoing innovation and friendlier costs over time have pushed flash tech into data centers and servers, impacting the world of computer storage.

The Benefits of Flash Technology in Data Centers

Unlike the spinning disks of traditional server environments, flash doesn’t require moving parts. Similar to system memory, flash is efficient, so companies can store and retrieve large amounts of data quickly. Flash is highly configurable, letting companies tier workloads and requirements easily to create budget-friendly storage options.

Skullcandy infrastructure director Brent Allen says flash technology lets data centers reach past historical limits. Flash technology increases data storage capacity in some environments, feeding a growing need for big data analytics. Skullcandy uses that capacity to receive eight market and customer updates a day and run analytics on the data to respond proactively to consumer demands.

Because flash runs on chip technology, it consumes less power than other data center technology. The power difference is minimal when viewed on a single machine or computer, but in a large data center, the effect can be exponential, reducing the overall costs of data storage. The reduction in power draw also means flash generates less heat, increasing safety and reducing maintenance required to protect machinery and data.

Where Flash is Most Suitable

Single users pulling data out of a cloud or physical server environment would be hard-pressed to identify the difference in speed between flash and traditional storage. Real efficiency is seen when you stack data storage and processes. For example, a large storage array that processes thousands of commands or data calls every minute allows each tiny efficiency win to add up over time. Add up thousands of fractions of seconds, and sizable chunks of time are saved every hour and every day.

Not only is flash a suitable option for companies with large data draws, but it also makes a good selection for shared cloud resources. The efficiency, space, and speed of flash means no organization suffers when using a public cloud data center.

Hybrid Data Storage Options

Len Rosenthal of Load DynamiX predicts that flash technology will be deployed across every data center within the next ten years, and he compares it to cloud-based technology in this regard. However, replacing current HDD media with flash isn’t cost effective for every organization. With storage infrastructure swallowing a large portion of IT budgets, even when cloud services are deployed, spending to implement new tech or opting for a more expensive tech isn’t an option for many organizations. That’s why some businesses are turning to hybrid options. Nimble’s Adaptive Flash hybrid capacity, for example, provides dual options for companies and lets organizations move into SDD tech without forgoing earlier investments.

Using Workloads to Design Systems

Before deciding where and when to deploy flash data center technology, organizations must understand data storage needs. Businesses should gather information about when workloads peak, how much data is uploaded or downloaded at any given time, who needs access to information, how information is accessed, what data types are required, and the commands used for data access. Understanding data-related work trends let you make smart decisions about data center services.

For more information about how a data center can work for you, or to discuss data center needs for your business, schedule a free consultation with one of our experiences hosting engineers.

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