Practice Lead – Systems and Storage
Think of Flash storage and the two thoughts to enter your mind will likely be high performance and high cost. Almost all organisations perceive that Flash would have a positive effect on their business operations but many dismiss it immediately on cost grounds. When considering hardware purchase price in isolation, Flash will almost certainly be more expensive than spinning disk per Terabyte. However, there is much more to consider when compiling a complete TCO. In this blog post, we ask why should you consider flash?
When considering hardware purchase price in isolation, Flash will almost certainly be more expensive than spinning disk per Terabyte. However, there is much more to consider when compiling a complete TCO. In this blog, we ask why should you consider flash? You can also take the guesswork out of your IT decision and contact us for a free workload assessment.
The nature of Flash storage allows incredible storage and performance density. For instance, over 1m IOPs can be delivered in 2U of rack space. Achieving this level of performance with a traditional or hybrid disk array would require multiple racks. With the average rack cost in UK co-location between £12,000-£15,000 per annum, it is clear to see the premium that organisations can pay for inefficient storage infrastructure. In addition, as Flash has no moving parts, power consumption is significantly lower without the electric motors to power.
For a blog on storage technologies, application and server licensing may seem to be a departure from the theme. However, bear with me as there can be a very real benefit here. Regardless of the type or performance of your server technology, it can only process data at the speed that the hungry processors can be fed.
The constant is server processing time – the time taken to perform an action on a piece of data once it reaches the processor. However, the time taken to action a request for data can have a drastic effect on the efficiency of an application.
For instance, let’s assume that the time taken to process a piece of data is 200 microseconds (0.2 milliseconds). From the point that the processor requests the data from disk, a traditional disk array will take around 5,200 microseconds to return it. By comparison, taking IBM’s FlashSystem as a benchmark, the same data can be returned in 200 microseconds. This not only accelerates the speed at which the application can process data but also has the effect of improving the efficiency of the processor core. Rather than a near 25:1 wait to process ratio for spinning disk, Flash allows this to be closer to 1:1 – increasing processor utilisation for the application from 4% to 50%. This example is displayed in the figure below:
Extending this train of thought, if you had 10 cores dedicated to an application with spinning disk, it’s possible that the same workload could be satisfied with 1 core using Flash. Alternatively, a 10X increase in performance could be possible without the need to increase licensed capacity.
Whilst this is an extreme example, it demonstrates the magnitude of savings that Flash makes possible. Consider an application license at £50k per CPU and the savings potential for reducing the number of cores suddenly becomes tangible.
Let’s face it, the measure by which an IT project succeeds of fails is not how slick the sales pitch or demonstrations are but the manner in which the business perceives the effect on critical processes. Whilst there are very few applications that can saturate the kind of performance that Flash can provide, what it does allow is very deterministic performance. In the same way that you can be assured that buying a watch rated as waterproof to 200m, you can be assured it will survive a drop in the sink – adding an additional 10,000 IOPs to a workload of 50,000 IOPs through market volatility, acquisition or application innovation can be added with confidence.
If money was no object…Which one would you go for? This is the mindset required to form a strong strategic roadmap for IT. What technology would provide the very best platform for the business – turning IT into a business enabler rather than a restriction on growth and innovation. Focussing on business value rather than cost provides a platform for change and innovation rather than maintaining the status quo because ‘It’s always worked for us in the past’ is not a valid argument.
Given the choice of a storage system that has reliability built in, provides higher performance, reduces footprint and environmental costs, why wouldn’t you consider Flash?
See for yourself how other clients have benefited from Flash.
Click here to view our client references
Using advanced modelling tools, Northdoor are able to take performance data from your current applications and provide an accurate estimation of the benefit of Flash.
About the Author
Tom Richards has over 12 years’ experience of solution design for Enterprise clients. Currently working as Practice Lead for IBM Systems at Northdoor, Tom is responsible for helping Clients improve their business outcomes through the use of innovative solution design and technologies. Previous projects include technical solution design for a number of IBM’s top 10 POWER clients and four years acting as Technical Account Manager for a UK High Street Bank.
Northdoor plc. is an IT Consultancy specialising in Data. Based in the City of London, Northdoor’s key specialisms include Big Data and Analytics, Systems and Storage, Security, Cloud, SQL and Sharepoint.