infoTECH Feature

March 24, 2015

Making the All-Flash Data Center a Reality, Part 2

Part one of this article discussed the rise of flash storage due to its drop in price and superior performance. Part two describes how software-defined storage fits into the all-flash data center and synergies created by using these technologies together.

How Software-Defined Storage Fits In

Just as flash has begun to accumulate a larger fan base, so has software-defined storage (SDS). While it might be too soon to call the two trends linked, it’s undeniable that a software-defined approach to storage infrastructure gives organizations the flexibility they need to adopt an all-flash data center strategy relatively quickly and easily.

The genius of software-defined storage lies in its ability to moving features typically found in hardware to the software layer, thereby doing away with depending on built-in and inefficient redundancies that solve problems typically found in the hardware layer. As a fact of life, hardware will fail, regardless whether it’s expensive, inexpensive, flash or spinning disk. Flash storage, in particular, currently has faster time-to-failure rate than spinning disk options. In traditional storage setups without RAID cards, the failure of a disk typically prompts an error that will impact the end-user’s experience. This is typically solved by using RAID cards to hide the errors, which can be pricy. With the right software-defined approach, these problems would be absorbed and invisible to the user. In addition, software-defined storage is hardware-agnostic, and can run on any hardware setup.

Organizations that use SDS to configure their storage can still use a single name space spanning all its storage nodes. Organizations could also run applications in the storage nodes as well, turning them into “compustorage” nodes. As a result, the storage hardware itself wouldn’t need to be that large or expensive, but would still have very high performance and speed. Therefore, instead of building a really big, expensive and traditional installation, organizations can start with a small number of cheap servers, and if needed, scale linearly from there and still have a high-performance data center.

A Winning Combination

In addition to the benefits detailed above, an all-flash data center running software-defined storage technology offers:

  • Reduced running costs due to lower power consumption. SSDs generate far less heat than a spinning disk and require less energy for cooling.
  • The ability to run more applications on the same hardware, due to hardware performance gains.
  • More efficient use of space in the data center. Since SSDs are much smaller than spinning disks, they require less space and less real estate to house them.
  • Performance boosts from to the ability to use the faster flash technology throughout the data center.

Flash and SDS: A Dynamic Duo

Flash has appeared just in time to help organizations meet current storage and performance needs, and sets them up in a competitive position to face the data deluge to come. Its increased affordability and low carbon footprint are added bonuses. Another new approach, SDS, works in tandem with flash storage to improve data center performance and speed. The freedom to move features to the software layer cuts costs by allowing the purchase of commodity servers, adding to the appeal of SDS. Together, these solutions make a dynamic duo of flexibility, efficiency and power and make the all-flash data center a viable reality.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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