Flash storage is the norm for many businesses, yet despite how long this method of data storage has been around, there are still misconceptions about how we save our data.
Found in iPods, laptops and the data centre, flash is an electronic storage medium containing no moving parts. The benefits of flash storage are now widely recognised, offering consistent, predictable, low-latency performance across infrastructure, as well as increased speed and efficiency, and all while dramatically reducing cost and complexity.
Traditionally, flash storage has been pitched at businesses on the larger end of the scale, with higher initial costs simply not justifiable for smaller, less complex workloads. But times have changed. IDC predicts that by 2020, all-flash arrays will drive more than 70 per cent of all primary storage spend.
With forecasts like these commonplace in the industry, it’s no wonder vendors are extending their offerings to make flash storage more accessible to small- and medium-sized businesses, by either building tools that are specifically for the market or that can be configured to suit more modest needs.
Upheaving legacy infrastructure is a scary concept, but with the ever-growing scale and demands placed on today’s businesses, flash is now the technology for those who don’t want to be left behind.
For SMEs who think flash is a costly investment reserved for their larger counterparts, it’s time to dispel the residual myths that flash has no place in their arena:
1. Flash is too expensive
For small- and medium-sized businesses, value for money is paramount. That flash is more expensive is a commonly-cited myth that need not scare off a small business owner.
Wikibon Research CTO and co-founder David Floyer says flash has already surpassed magnetic disk as the most cost-effective medium for performance-driven applications. The good news is, as economies of scale and volume continue to increase, the cost of flash will keep on falling.
Small businesses can achieve a significantly lower total cost of ownership (TCO) with flash storage, once data reduction, reduced maintenance, simplified administration, power and cooling are considered.
As the long-term costs of flash become increasingly apparent, more small- and medium-sized businesses will look to it as a storage solution capable of offering a real competitive advantage. Those who don’t will be the ones left behind.
2. Flash performance isn’t relevant to my workload
Today, more data is created daily than was created in the last 2,000 years. For modern-day businesses looking to survive and compete in today’s market, flash storage is undoubtedly relevant, if not critical, to workloads.
SMEs might not have hundreds of employees or millions of customers, but their data can still be put to good use. With the rise of the real-time business, in which test and development and online analytics play a prominent role, overnight and batch processing is no longer sufficient. Organisations need to work quickly with near real-time data, and flash is the only realistic choice to achieve the levels of performance that workloads and customers demand.
The workload is too small to validate an investment in flash, some SMEs may say. But the beauty is, flash allows customers to start small and seamlessly scale up as needed. This is perfect for businesses with different budget and operational requirements. Flash has the potential to revolutionise the work that small businesses do, providing unprecedented performance, flexibility, agility and scale.
3. Cloud is the only way forward
As with flash, cloud has been plagued with the perception that it is an enterprise only endeavour. Despite this, cloud adoption has been strong among small- and medium-sized businesses in Australia due to its low cost and easy application.
However, Gartner research director Michael Warrilow says some businesses are making the dangerous assumption that cloud will always save them money, which is not necessarily the case. In reality, the modern data centre should be both flash and cloud enabled. This is why vendors are now offering midmarket flash solutions that offer both cloud management and cloud tiering features. For SMEs, this means their data centre doesn’t have to adopt a one versus the other approach.
The face of SMEs in Australia is changing. For SMEs to take advantage of new technologies and leapfrog competition, the only way forward is to build a robust, scalable, cost-effective and secure architecture. Until recently, many SMEs had been asking ‘why flash?’ Facing the future, the more relevant and urgent question has become ‘Why NOT flash?’
Graham Holt is the general manager of primary storage flash solutions at Dell EMC, Australia and New Zealand.
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