The Next Big Game Changer:

Democratization of All-Flash Storage

All-flash storage has been a game changer for enterprise IT. Yet, while it’s clear that flash has been a game changer, it’s also true that the game has been pretty heavily stacked in favor of larger enterprises. These have been the customers that could reasonably afford to purchase all-flash arrays with the richest set of enterprise-class features and the highest levels of reliable, consistent performance.

But the game is about to change once again. The entry-level price point for a fully featured all-flash array that doesn’t compromise on performance, reliability or anything else has come down dramatically in 2016. In fact, an all-flash array with 25TB of effective usable capacity can now be purchased at a price point of less than $50,000 USD.

This is an important breakthrough for the technology itself and, more significantly, it allows a much broader group of customers to leverage the business and operational benefits of all-flash storage.

Now, even small and midsize enterprises can easily afford to deploy their own all-flash arrays rather than risk using their applications on a cloud service or another solution that requires some level of compromise, either in performance, reliability, control, cost, complexity or all of the above. Larger enterprises can now use these low-cost yet enterprise-proven all-flash arrays to support new initiatives, quickly deploy test and development environments and/or improve the performance of business critical applications in branch offices.

In some ways, this is the beginning of the “democratization” of all-flash storage. And for many organizations, it’s not coming a moment too soon.

Start looking at flash. It is perceived to be expensive, but at the end of the day, when you start to look at what you gain from it, it is absolutely going to become — or already is — really a ubiquitous environment to be able to put long-term data storage on. We’ve seen that.
Jack Hogan, CTO Lifescript

Leveraging the Business Benefits of Affordable All-Flash Storage

If you are the IT manager at a small or midsize enterprise, or a healthcare facility, government agency or local school district, chances are you are facing many of the same challenges as your counterparts at Fortune 500 companies — only you have a smaller staff and, in all likelihood, tighter budget restrictions. Today’s IT issues tend to be consistent across almost all organizations, driven by a set of common themes that are forcing organizations to reassess and, in some cases, transform how they are delivering and deploying IT. Among these key themes:

  • Consumerization: Employees and customers expect the same level of performance and speed in their business interactions as they do in the consumer world. New applications have to be developed quickly and the business has to be mobile-enabled.
  • Performance: This follows on the theme of consumerization. Application performance cannot lag, transactions have to be processed quickly and customer needs have to be addressed at all times or else the customer will simply go somewhere else.
  • Complexity: IT teams have to reduce complexity and embrace faster deployments through automation, orchestration and cloud models that simplify provisioning, limit the risk of human error and eliminate downtime.
  • Data growth: Data is continuing to grow at a staggering pace, pretty much doubling every two years. A major portion of that data is of the unstructured variety. Today’s storage solutions have to deal with this growth in a cost-efficient manner.
  • IT as a service: The role of IT is changing quickly to a service-centric model. IT infrastructures have to support functions such as resource pooling, self-service provisioning, elastic scalability and automatic chargebacks.

One of the reasons all-flash storage is a game-changing technology is that it enables IT teams to address each of these challenges. All-flash arrays deliver dramatic performance improvements over traditional spinning disk, particularly for any IOPS-intensive application like a database. Many enterprises have reached the point where they won’t even consider spinning disks for tier-one applications anymore.

Beyond performance, all-flash solutions deliver other important benefits. The right solution will address data growth by using advanced compression and deduplication technologies to significantly reduce the physical data footprint and associated colocation expenses, which are typically incurred on a per-rack unit or per-floor tile basis.

In addition, certain all-flash arrays are virtually plug-and-play devices that can be provisioned in minutes. All-flash storage also supports mixed workloads and resource pooling to enable the cloud-like functionality and flexibility IT teams are seeking as they transition to service-centric delivery models.

Deploying a Fully Featured, No-Compromise All-Flash Solution

However, if you are the IT manager at a small or midsize enterprise, or a healthcare facility, government agency or local school district, chances are you haven’t yet experienced all of the myriad benefits of a fully featured all-flash array. The price point was probably too high to justify the investment.

Which isn’t to say you haven’t experienced the joy of flash. As pressure has mounted to deliver greater performance for critical applications, you may have purchased a flash storage service from a public cloud provider. Or maybe you tried a hybrid solution that provides some performance gains by using flash as a cache within a traditional spinning disk array.

If you have used these types of solutions, you’ve likely had to make compromises in areas such as performance, security, reliability, consistency or cost. Cloud-based flash services can be quite expensive and can’t deliver the reliability or performance consistency of a fully featured on-premises solution. After all, you can’t build a six-9s service on top of a four-9s cloud data platform. Hybrid solutions lag in performance versus all-flash arrays and, rather than simplifying your deployments, add new levels of complexity that mitigate their value.

If you have tried these solutions—or if you have avoided them because of their limitations — you are probably ready for a real all-flash array that doesn’t force any compromises. So what does that look like? Here are some factors to consider:

  • No-worry performance A fully featured all-flash array will deliver consistent performance, which is extremely important in today’s cloud environments. With the right solution you will be able to perform up to 100,000 32K IOPS with an average latency of less than 1 millisecond.
  • Enterprise-grade reliability An all-flash array can deliver greater than five-9s availability with 100% performance during maintenance and failures.
  • Transformational simplicity Certain all-flash arrays are simple plug-and-play devices that can be deployed in minutes and require virtually no ongoing management. As a small or midsize enterprise, you don’t need storage specialists to provision, deploy or manage the solution.
  • Easy expandability Certain all-flash arrays are offered with flexible deployment models that enable you to scale the solution modularly as part of an ongoing services agreement. You never have to go through data migrations and you can keep your solution current with the latest technology upgrades.
  • Data reduction technologies With an all-flash array you can use compression and deduplication technologies that are simply not available in traditional spinning disk arrays. All-flash arrays can typically reduce data by a ratio of at least 3:1 and potentially more, depending upon the application or workload.
Flash is essential; it is a necessity. We cannot expect our staff to use professional equipment that is less efficient than the ones they have at home. This goes for each of our workstations and is also true for our storage arrays. We now know that flash has a proven price/performance ratio well above legacy disks.
Romain Broussard, Head of Infrastructure and Production Cdiscount

Choosing the Right Solution

The question you may be asking is this: How and when did all this happen? Perhaps the last time you researched an array with all of these features and capabilities you were quoted a price of $250,000 or $300,000 USD or more, depending upon the capacity. Now you are being told you can get all of these features in an all-flash array for less than $50,000 USD.

The big breakthrough is coming from one of the leading innovators in the all-flash market, Pure Storage. Pure has scaled its architecture to make all of its key enterprise-class features available in an entry-level array that “democratizes” all-flash storage by making it affordable to just about any business. The new product is called the Pure FlashArray//m10.

For the under-$50,000 USD entry point, you can get an array that gives you a maximum capacity of 25 TB of usable storage. For most small or midsize businesses this is more than enough to run all of your production applications and, in many cases, your entire company. One of the additional benefits is that you can scale easily as your needs grow, simply by adding more flash capacity and controllers completely non-disruptively. Your applications keep running at full performance even while you do the upgrade. No maintenance windows are required.

This simple scalability is valuable for both SMBs as well as larger enterprises. Say, for example, you want to use all-flash storage to support the rollout of an important new initiative such as virtual desktop infrastructure. You can start with a FlashArray//m10 to deliver the performance and capacity for your initial deployment, then expand it as your needs change. Or if you are ready to replace an existing array, you can now try all-flash storage without taking the risk of purchasing a $300,000 USD solution.

The FlashArray//m10 doesn’t compromise on any of the features or functions available in any of the Pure Storage enterprise-class arrays. Customers can leverage the performance, reliability and simplicity benefits of Pure all-flash storage solutions, as well as the unique Evergreen Storage pricing and maintenance model that simplifies upgrades and eliminates migrations. Most importantly, with Evergreen Storage you don’t have to re-buy your capacity every time you upgrade to the latest generation.

With Pure I know that as the company grows, the IT infrastructure will scale to support it, and I won’t have to worry about it.
Eric Cornwell, IT Manager Tour de Force

Taking the Next Step

It’s taken just a little bit of time, but the democratization of all-flash storage is finally at hand. Companies of any size can now afford a fully featured, no-compromise all-flash array that leverages the performance, reliability, cost efficiencies, simplicity and scalability of the industry’s most innovative all-flash architecture. Are you ready to discover how all-flash storage can be a game changer for your business? Please contact Pure Storage at http://www.purestorage.com/cloud for more information.