by February 18, 2014 0 comments

With the whole data explosion taking place across the globe, the need for advanced and effective data processing technology is evidently the need of hour. With an estimated 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being created daily around the globe, the highly competitive market for storage and networking solutions represents a large, fast-growing business opportunity. Sharing his point of view on flash and other storage related technology, Ambuj Goyal, general manager, IBM System Storage and Networking believes that right now flash is at a tipping point in the storage industry. For people flash represents storage but for IBM that signifies the way data centers and systems would be designed.

“Smartphones wouldn’t even exist if we were to incorporate disk drives instead of Flash memory in them.”, said Ambuj. Flash, if used as final tier of data testing, changes the design of data systems. A typical data center setup in an organization (large or small) comprises of a few racks of servers, storage, and networking with applications like ERP, Analytics, etc. Organizations are able to reduce the number of servers required with virtualization, but not storage. However, the moment you incorporate flash based storage, then it’s not just the storage that can be compressed, you can even compress the number of servers and amount of networking, which results in improved capacity and density. This completely transforms the way a data center functions.

Setups like large-scale data centers, call centers etc. can halve the size of their data centers and achieve 10x improvement in performance, according to Ambuj. Flash on a standard rack these days is capable of holding up to 1 Petabyte of storage with less than 12 KW of power consumption in the process, he adds.

Relevance of Flash in Big Data Workloads
There are certain workloads that are ideally suited for flash systems today. If archival is your primary work profile then Flash is not the way to go. However, if you’re involved in any transaction related activity or analytics or data-based processing and it’s the primary source of data then moving over to flash is the right decision. Using flash has resulted in large scale shrinkage of data centers, which in turn has led to removal of skilled technical work force because the mechanism for flash is self-tuned, thereby negating the need for data administrators. All in all, flash based storage leads to simpler, smaller, and more cost effective data centers. There is a fear among enterprises about deploying flash based storage in their data centre. According to Ambuj, this is more of a bottleneck in their mindset rather than infancy of the technology itself. IBM has 12 global competency centers that aim to eliminate this skepticism and educate them on how to achieve RoI from flash based storage.

Indian SMBs are more eager to adopt flash based storage over their international counterparts, according to Ambuj. This is definitely a refreshing and encouraging sign that even small enterprises are finding the technology relevant for their business needs. In general, people are still thinking that solid state drives (SSD) and flash are the same thing, while in truth these are two different aspects; one which has been used for decades and the other which is gradually gaining acceptance for its high delivery efficiency.

Impact of Software Defined Storage on Enterprises
SDS is being discussed at various platforms across the globe. It’s a term that has been coined by those people who want to get into the storage industry, according to Ambuj. How to Move to Flash Based Storage? The process is a combination of two things explains Ambuj. You have the application access the virtualization and put flash behind it. Now, you tell the virtualization engine to move the volume from mechanical device to flash and the application doesn’t even come to know. The turnover time counts at less than a day. Concluding the conversation, Ambuj highlights that flash is a Tsunami in the industry and one should try to stay above it for his/her own good.

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