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Three years ago, it was virtually impossible to deploy an all-flash data center or an all-flash storage portfolio. Flash was being leveraged in storage arrays and in systems, but it was not widespread by any means. This has changed. Today, flash storage is seen as an integral part of the enterprise data center, and the number of all-flash storage systems is steadily increasing.
The pace of flash adoption is accelerating, although hard-disk drives and flash drives will coexist in the data center for some time to come. New workloads and demanding workloads need flash-enabled storage – and the improved I/O capabilities they support. Taken together, these capabilities are improving processing performance and reducing time-to-results for important business applications and databases.
From an IT perspective, flash is often adopted as part of a data modernization or digital transformation project. Often, flash-enabled devices support a software-defined data center initiative. Why? Flash offers higher performance in virtualized and cloud environments. Flash offers non-volatile storage, retaining data even during power outages. Importantly, storage management software using AI, cognitive or machine learning (ML) software can be applied to direct demanding workloads to the flash-enabled storage systems in the network.
From a business perspective, leveraging flash often results in faster performance and reduced OPEX, due to the ability to simplify IT by reducing the amount of on-the-floor resources required by many of the most highly-demanding workloads.
Drivers for data growth
What’s driving the rapid growth in data? We see more data being generated by analytics, supply-chain and blockchain distributed ledger software. In addition to traditional enterprise data, we see the emergence of associated data types, such as images, audio and sensor data. The variety and volume of data is bound to grow with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) associated with day-to-day business processes. In all, we expect many organizations to have many petabytes of data to analyze and protect. These factors are not just technical considerations from IT managers buying new systems. Business managers expect that IT will be able to provide rapid or real-time analysis of transactional data – and they need the speed and storage capacity to do so.
What’s driving demand for flash-enabled storage?
In today’s hybrid cloud world, with central-site and remote data stores, there are many business drivers for bringing a range of flash-based systems to market. In a distributed computing world, rapid data access and efficient transfer improve response times for business applications.
Business drivers for faster storage include:
- Intense competition in the business world (like financial services and retail.)
- The need to differentiate consumer products.
- The phenomenon of “disruptive innovation.”
Recent updates to IBM’s flash and SDS portfolio
IBM is expanding its inclusion of flash storage throughout its storage portfolio. IBM views its flash products as a strategic offering that works not only with IBM hardware and software, but also with other vendors’ storage products. That approach is vital for customers, most of whom work in a mixed-vendor IT infrastructure combining previous investments with new ones.
On Oct. 24, 2017, IBM announced a refresh of its all-flash storage products, and the addition of new software capabilities to its IBM Spectrum storage management software suite. This is a broad announcement that demonstrates the breadth and scope of IBM’s flash-based portfolio and IBM’s ongoing investment in flash products and software-defined storage (SDS) that span hybrid clouds.
IBM’s expanded flash-enabled storage portfolio provides a wide range of platforms – and price points – to support many types of business solutions. IBM’s commitment to, and continuing investment in flash systems gives customers many new storage options for the enterprise and cloud storage needs of today’s business.
Flash-based storage systems address many of the challenges faced by IT managers and business managers. For IT organizations, they offer better performance for demanding workloads with large datasets. For business, they support faster time-to-results for big data analytics, supply-chain/ERP, and IoT sensor-based applications.
Addressing fast-growing data stores — and doing so efficiently — is the reason why flash deployments are fast becoming a business imperative for high-performance and analytics workloads.