Why flash cloud storage beats the legacy

For a provider, an ideal cloud storage solution would include drives that limit space, power and cooling resources.

For a provider, an ideal cloud storage solution would include drives that limit space, power and cooling resources. Credit: iStock

Low costs, availability, scalability, flexibility and speed are all ideal goals for cloud storage. New startups are benefiting from the relief in initial outlay needs for IT hardware. Older businesses are also making the shift, to cut down on maintenance costs of running in-house data centers. They find it easier to pay for what they use and expand as and when needed, as opposed to making costly upgrades and replacements.

Given the slower read ability on platter-based drives like the Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) and integrated development environments (IDE), storage speeds seem to be the only bottle-neck in an otherwise ideal solution. High energy consumption is also a concern. So, can flash storage be the missing link between cloud computing and lightning-fast data processing?

At first glance, flash storage appears to be fully capable of boosting cloud storage availability and speed. With blazing read/write speeds of 550 Mbps, this does seem like a match made in computing heaven.

Many businesses and cloud service providers are using flash-based cloud storage solutions. Through flash, providers are able to promise real-time computing and data access speeds for their customers. Data storage volumes and access speeds are important parts of any provider’s solution, and most of their business is captured over service level agreements (SLA) with punitive terms in case of downtime.

However, a few factors prohibit widespread adoption of the technology, with many organizations still using older legacy drives. With fierce competition in the market, and cut-throat prices that fall daily, profits are made only by those who can deliver more storage — with the added assurance of failure-proof measures. To be considered viable, a flash-based cloud storage solution needs to have these three distinct features:

Flash cloud storage is highly available and reliable

Cloud storage reliability is essential for service provision. Cloud providers face damaged reputations and heavy fines when not compliant with SLAs. Flash drives are fairly new, and haven’t taken the brutal testing and thrashing of their older counterparts. While there have been cases of drive failures and controller issues with flash storage, the speed factor covers up this (slightly) increased risk.

Flash cloud storage is cost-effectively scalable

The cloud storage solution must be hot-swappable, to allow mid-service changes without halting operations. Media should be decently priced, on a dollar-to-gigabyte ratio. With per-gigabite storage on legacy drives currently going for peanuts, there needs to be major cost benefits to warrant the switch. Flash drives are squarely beaten at this point — they are still a costly solution.

Flash cloud storage is cost effective to maintain

For a provider, an ideal cloud storage solution would include drives that limit space, power and cooling resources. Platter-based drives are losing this battle, as flash storage requires a fraction of the physical space to store the same amount of data. Flash drives are also more energy efficient, and do not require heat dissipation.

Until recently, we were talking about in megabytes and gigabytes when referring to data. A 20GB drive seemed colossal. Now multi-terabyte drives have made previously gigantic storage capacities look miniscule. Flash storage is still taking its first steps, but it might eventually be possible to purchase a solution which promises and delivers all of the above requirements.

Dennis Smith

Dennis Smith

Dell Contributor at Tech Page One
Dennis is the networking and storage evangelist for DellTechCenter.com. He also manages the Dell TechCenter social accounts; click on the tabs above to be connected to them. Dennis has also been recognized as aVMware vExpert.
Dennis Smith
Dennis Smith
Dennis Smith
Dennis Smith
Tags: Cloud Computing,Storage,Technology