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How to Get the Most Out of Flash Data Storage in the Cloud

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The mechanical nature of hard disk drives (HDDs) means they can often break down when trying to handle the level of random input/output operations-per-second (IOPS) that are required by products held in the virtualised domain.

This HDD disconnect has prompted businesses to put more critical applications onto private cloud infrastructures. In tandem, firms have noted ample room for improvement in dynamic solid state storage – particularly where IOPS for tier one production environments is concerned.

Getting required technologies up to scratch has always been expensive, but the dawn of flash storage has made prices more manageable (on a cost-per-IOPS basis) when compared to HDDs. Furthermore, flash storage greatly outperforms HDDs for applications that require top-level IOPS performance in the private cloud.

For IT administrators thinking of looking at a flash storage solution, some key considerations need to be made.

All flash or hybrid array?

IT bosses can elect to take the all-flash array option, or a hybrid solution that unifies flash with HDD drives. The former is usually more expensive but delivers higher performance overall, while the latter will distribute storage based on an application’s performance requirements, using intelligent tiering.

Administrators should use performance requirements of critical applications to inform which approach works best.

Resiliency

Typically, an organisation will run a variety of applications on the private cloud, so the best option is a flash storage solution that will never encounter any downtime, whether the off-line moment is anticipated or not.

This necessitates a management platform that does not need planned downtime for upkeep and maintenance. It would also be beneficial to have a flash solution that reduces overall performance degradation, should any malfunction of a single driver within a cluster occur.

A further crucial aspect regarding resilience with flash is endurance. Only a limited number of writes can be supported during the lifecycle of flash storage, so managers should search for solutions that minimise writes while maximising drive life span.

Infrastructure integration

Smooth integration with the existing IT environment is a priority, regardless of which storage platform for flash is chosen.

Most organisations will employ flash in the private cloud for tier one production environments, which calls for a seamless flash integration with disaster recovery, archiving and backup systems.

Beyond this, consideration needs to be given to the flash solution’s architecture; elastic scalability comes of employing a scale-out architecture, which is key for the cloud environment. However, some proximity from the existing scale-up infrastructure may be needed.

Bottlenecks can often crop up due to ponderous I/O performance of HDDs in the wake of applications being shifted into the private cloud. In this respect, performance can be greatly enhanced if flash is incorporated to meet the demands of the virtualised cloud environment.

Striking the right balance

Following years of ambition, research and development, 2017 looks set to be the year in which businesses can realise the full potential of flash storage applied to cloud environments in a financially viable way.

Thanks to groundbreaking innovation, straightforward, user-friendly way file and block storage is now available in a way that maximises scalability; there’s never been a better time to combine outstanding, flexible hardware with optimised efficiency to solve all performance needs.

 

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Tags: Business, Digital Transformation