The All-Flash Priority
There is expert opinion that the all-flash storage market is poised for growth. IDC forecasts worldwide enterprise all-solid-state storage spending will reach USD1.6 billion in 2016. That’s a staggering CAGR of 58.5 percent from 2012, when spending was only USD0.3 billion.
This growth in no small part is due to the decline in solid-state storage array solution pricing from USD11.12 per GB in 2012 to a forecasted USD2.88 per GB in 2016. Many companies are taking advantage of this drop in pricing. It may even be one of the many reasons why it is possible for Facebook to move all of its archival data onto flash storage.
But there are other factors that are pushing solid-state storage technology, specifically all-flash storage, into the limelight. Traditional storage technologies and legacy architectures are less and less relevant in today’s digital world, where seamless access to data and applications no matter where, when and how, is becoming the new ‘normal.’
Wikibon famously stated, “CIOs and CTOs should and will start to architect systems in a profoundly different way than those historic disk-bound systems.”
Notably, enterprise storage vendor Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) has helped numerous organisations –from Alior Bank to Coop Group to Centris and the Seattle Children’s Hospital – to migrate their heterogeneous IT environments to all-flash solutions. HDS all-flash solutions have improved cost performance, agility and access to data.
Transforming to Move at the Speed of Flash
When HDS CTO Hu Yoshida came to Kuala Lumpur to meet the media, he shared what was already on everyone’s minds – that the world is in a lot of flux today.
No doubt in today’s digital world, companies across every industry face increasing business demands for better access to data, all while reducing costs. Organisations have had to transform their approach to IT to achieve new capabilities, as evidenced by startup disruptors like Airbnb and Uber.
The financial services industry is one such industry that is being disrupted, with the emergence financial technology companies (or “fintech”) that use technology to provide more efficient services.
Hu observed, “Fintech1.0 was the era where banks were competing against startups. In Fintech2.0, they both will have to work together and leverage off each other.”
No doubt, even the very established financial services industry has had to undergo significant transformation to remain relevant during this time of unending flux.
According to IDC, 34 percent of organisations in Malaysia are undergoing digital transformation (DX) projects. The remaining 66percent are left vulnerable to the risk of competitors overtaking them, or to being ousted from their place in the industry by faster and leaner startups.
They have to embark upon their digital transformation journey sooner or later, because the cost of not transforming their IT environments is simply too great.
But what is DX? How does it happen?
At the heart of digital transformation is the crucial need to rethink business operations and processes to increase cost efficiency and to reduce the time to get a product or service into the market.
For this to happen, IT has to be drastically simplified, and a software-defined infrastructure (SDI) is a currently popular method that allows this. SDI allows automation, access to more data and hardware abstraction, which is useful for environments with heterogeneous hardware.
Accelerate Time to Market With SDI and All-Flash
Moving to an all-flash storage infrastructure offers a wide variety of business and IT benefits. For example, it accelerates business decisions based on accumulated data and provides IT the agility to launch new services and develop new applications faster.
Both data availability and system agility give your organisation an advantage over competitors. And all-flash systems are faster and more responsive than traditional disk-based processing.
Hu gave the example of the Marriott group and Airbnb trying to set up shop in a country like Cuba.
With the country coming out of isolation and a normalisation process underway between it and the United States, there is opportunity for the tourism and hospitality industry to address pent-up demand.
But given the very different ways that Marriott and Airbnb use technology to operate their respective businesses, which company is likely to provide service first, in Cuba?
Hu emphasised, “Risks and rewards are different for companies that move at different speeds.”
SDI Leverages Hitachi’s FMDs
By 2020, the IT market will spend four times more on flash devices than it does on performance disk drives.
But HDS cautions about a common pitfall that many organisations potentially face.
Many organisations don’t realise that their architecture is not built to provide long-term, fast data speeds to handle increasing data.
Flash module drives (FMDs) within Hitachi Accelerated Flash are built to avoid these slowdowns, with programmable features and intelligence onboard like compression, erasure and multi-pathing.
Hu explained, “For HDS, software-defined is simple. It is the ability for the hardware or infrastructure to communicate with the platform or application layer.
“On my part (as a storage hardware) I can say I am talking to a virtual machine. I can optimise the virtual machine by placing it on flash drives and getting maximum performance for that.
“Because of the way Hitachi builds storage, there is intelligence on the flash module drive (FMD) itself. I can see VMs, move data, have capability to shred data and report all these for auditing purposes.”
For example, Hitachi’s solution can provision VMs with more resources for higher performance or security because it can differentiate the needs of one VM from another through software-defined infrastructure.
The HDS CTO concluded, “Our flash works very well in this type of intelligent environment where we have software-defined (capability).”