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IBM: Flash Storage Hits Tipping Point


Flash is now cheaper than most spinning disks -- and dramatically speeds up application and database performance, IBM says. What about Hana and Exadata?

Everybody agrees that spinning disk drives will give way to solid state alternatives, but there's much more debate about what share of storage will eventually move to server DRAM, what share will move to flash-based storage options and just how soon disk drives will disappear.

IBM on Thursday made the case that flash technology has reached an economic tipping point such that it's already cheaper than most spinning disks when you take into account power, cooling, floor space and software costs. IBM also argued that by adding all-flash storage arrays as an option within storage area networks -- a move that involves little more than plugging in racks -- organizations can realize dramatic improvements in both application and database performance without changes to software. Parts of these claims sound similar to claims being made by SAP and Oracle, but more on their very different approaches in a moment.

"If you slide in a flash array into an existing environment, you get a step-function change in economics and performance without a change in any system software, but that's just step one," said Ambuj Goyal, general manager of IBM System Storage & Networking. In step two you eliminate striping, caching and other storage tricks previously necessitated by slow disk access speeds to get a next level of performance improvement. And in a third step, you tweak applications to take advantage of flash-optimized databases to get even higher performance, Goyal said.

IBM made this case as part of an announcement of a new family of all-flash storage arrays, as well as a $1 billion investment in flash research and the establishment of 12 storage centers of competency around the globe that will help customers run proof-of-concept scenarios. The arrays, acquired last August with IBM's purchase of Texas Memory Systems (TMS), pack 6 terabytes to 24 terabytes of usable storage in a 1U, pizza-box-sized rack. The technology offers 74% lower power, cooling and floor space cost than spinning disks, according to IBM.

... Read full story on InformationWeek

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