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Flash storage adoption rates are skyrocketing these days. IT industry analyst firm IDC predicts that 74.5 percent of worldwide business revenue will be flash-based by 2020. The question is – Why are enterprises of all types and sizes so enthusiastically deploying flash storage solutions? There’s only one legitimate answer – because flash really does provide better solutions to real-world business challenges.

Percentages of market share for each technology

Percentages of market share for each technology

One of the most pressing challenges in business today involves data security. In fact, the daily news reminds us that it has become bigger than simply a business issue: A data security breach can influence a national election.

These days, organization leaders are leveraging the capabilities of hybrid cloud, big data analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), flash storage and even cognitive data processing to solve business challenges. Now, IBM is helping to develop a powerful new solution that marshals these 21st century tools to combat cybersecurity threats. And right at the heart of this solution lies flash storage.

SparkSecure® is the platform developed by the cognitive analytics company SparkCognition to help locate cyber threats faster and optimize the capabilities of cybersecurity teams. An innovative new approach combines the cognitive analysis of IoT data within SparkSecure with the big data ingestion and processing abilities of IBM Watson. To maximize the value provided by SparkSecure, however, on-premises deployments require high-performance infrastructure. Tests conducted by IBM and SparkCognition confirm that a simple, cost-effective, high-performance infrastructure based on flash storage provides multiple benefits compared to the typical clustered server and disk storage configuration formerly used for SparkSecure deployments.

The data sets created by today’s IoT are so massive and detailed that the ability to parse through them effectively takes a fast CPU, a lot of memory, quick I/O capabilities and vast amounts of storage. There are two methods to achieve faster results during big data analyses—run faster systems, or reduce the scope of the analyses. The second is unacceptable in data security, so thanks to IBM all-flash storage solutions such as IBM FlashSystem 900 used in recent performance tests, SparkSecure software developers are able to focus on the first.

SparkSecure addresses cybersecurity using a holistic approach, analyzing structured and unstructured data in the form of server logs and natural language sources such as social media to identify possible attacks or vulnerabilities in a cloud environment. It can automatically detect signature-free patterns present in new threats and provide recommendations to help protect against them. All of this knowledge can be delivered in context, at the right time to the right person.

SparkCognition has trained IBM Watson on a large corpus of security content and relevant product data, transforming IBM Watson into an intelligent advisor that draws from trusted literature to help protect customers against diverse threats. Security analysts simply query IBM Watson using natural language and IBM Watson provides – not a set of results – but an answer. SparkSecure capabilities combined with IBM Watson yield a perpetually evolving and learning virtual security expert within a customer’s virtual machines, physical servers and cloud instances.

Flash storage provides benefits of its own when deployed in cybersecurity solutions. Traditional SparkSecure implementations, just like with many other big data analytics solutions, originally used clusters of commodity servers leveraging internal or shared disk storage. But the performance testing conducted by IBM and SparkCognition confirmed that even with SSDs added, this complex traditional configuration couldn’t remotely muster the performance easily provided by one IBM POWER8 server and one IBM FlashSystem 900 array. For IT administrators, the reduced complexity offered by the flash-based IBM solution architecture translates into increased system resiliency and availability, with less time spent managing infrastructure.

The accelerating pace of flash adoption is driven by real-world business results, not passing fashion. Today, solutions to business challenges are being developed from a new spectrum of 21st century tools and capabilities, including the cloud, the IoT, mobile and social systems of engagement and cognitive applications, to name only a few. Cybersecurity is no different. Machine learning and natural language are replacing keystrokes and spreadsheets to create truly intelligent data security solutions – with flash storage playing an ever-increasing role.

Learn more about the test results that prove IBM FlashSystem can drive SparkCognition applications to much higher performance and efficiency while lowering system complexity.

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