It’s easy to see why flash-implemented, solid-state drive (SSD) storage has been called the miracle of the 21st century. Compared to its more pervasive counterpart — hard-disk drive (HDD) storage — flash SSD can speed the time it takes to process transaction-heavy workloads, such as Web queries, retail transactions and business analytics, many times over.
Why we love it
Flash SSD makes it possible to get your hands on information fast:
With no moving parts, flash storage eliminates the rotation and seek latency inherent to hard-disk access. Compared to hard disk storage, flash can cut access speed from milliseconds (ms) to microseconds (μs).
Flash drives access data electronically, not electromechanically like disk drives. This makes flash faster and more durable.
Flash storage retrieves data directly from flash memory. Flash can retrieve data in less than .1 ms, whereas HDD would require 3-12 ms. SSDs don’t usually require special cooling and can tolerate higher temperatures than HDDs. With no moving parts, there are fewer mechanical failures.
Unfortunately, the high cost of SSD ownership has discouraged widespread adoption — until recently, that is.
Falling prices create new opportunities
In the last few years, the price of flash storage has been coming down (Dell offer an all-flash storage solution for under $5/GB.). Lower costs open more opportunities for more businesses to speed information access and stay competitive.
Now you can get hybrid flash arrays that can tier across single-level cell (SLC) and multi-cell level (MLC) SSDs. This blends the attributes of both types of SSDs into a more attractive cost per gigabyte solution.
Match the drive type to the workload
Flash arrays are perfect for I/O-intensive workloads, but flash alone may not be the most economical way to store low-priority data. While flash storage excels at fast response time, HDD-based systems —which offer high capacity at the lowest $/GB — are ideal for archiving large data sets.
To drive greater efficiencies into your storage IT, you can create hybrid arrays with high-endurance SLC SSD on tier 1 for frequent writes, high-capacity and lower-priced MLC SSD on tier 2 for frequent reads and HDDs on tier 3 for low-touch data. This reduces the overall cost of the array and still offers the benefits of high-performance storage
Compared to an all-flash array, the hybrid approach — storage tiers with dual flash drive types at the high end and spinning disks at the low end — can significantly reduce cost. In addition, you can:
Address both ends of your storage spectrum —from hot to cold data — within a single array
Ensure ultra-fast response time for your high-touch data
Provide persistent storage for your older data
The key is to match the storage array to the workload. Once you understand your workload requirements, such as how much data you access frequently and your rates of reads and writes, you can search for a flexible, scalable solution. Choose a solution that can tier across SLC and MLC SSDs to get the horsepower you need at a price you can afford. Then watch your return on investment grow.