Stretching a Dollar

The Role of Data Reduction in a Flash Environment

In order to maximize capacity and bring down the cost per GB, vendors in this space generally include comprehensive deduplication technology that can have a major positive impact on capacity. Even better, data reduction technologies in all flash systems also serve to extend the life of the flash media itself. Here’s why: when data is deduplicated, it doesn’t need to be written to the media. Therefore, a program/erase cycle is not expended, thanks to the deduplication operation. The higher the deduplication ratio, the fewer writes that need to be performed. This results in major capacity gains that bring the cost of flash close to that of raw spinning disk while, at the same time, the lifespan of the flash media is extended and overall workload performance is accelerated. It’s a win/win/win scenario.

Opportunities

All flash storage arrays present some significant opportunities for the business. When it comes to sheer performance, they can’t be beat. In fact, there is so much IOPS potential that most won’t need to think about performance again for a long time. This ability to deploy new applications without fear of introducing new performance challenges is a significant business enabler. Further, between price reductions for flash media and improved reduction software, some all flash arrays can be purchased at prices that rival that of raw spinning disk.

Challenges

Now, it’s important to clarify that, yes, reduction does bring to the market flash storage at a cost that rivals that of raw spinning disk. The key word there is “raw”. Bear in mind that some hybrid storage solutions actually deduplicate both the flash storage tier as well as the capacity tier, which runs on spinning disk. Flash pricing is not – and, for the foreseeable future, won’t be – available for the cost of reduced spinning disk. However, not all hybrid systems do full deduplication and for many, the primary challenge revolves around performance, so all flash has become a serious option, particularly when capacity challenges can be overcome with deduplication and compression, which is almost always available in all flash systems.