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Combining flash and HDD storage to tackle enterprise performance, capacity and budget issues

By Al Perlman

Without the proper solutions in place, the economics of data storage are simply unworkable. IT budgets are typically flat or shrinking, yet storage requirements are multiplying dramatically. Companies are typically seeing compound annual growth rates in data of 30% to 60%, according to research firm Gartner.


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Enterprises are creating more data, they are storing it for longer periods of time, and they are dealing with information in a wider range of formats, including unstructured data, which accounts for approximately 90% of the data growth.

What’s more, enterprises are seeing a growing demand for better performance out of their storage infrastructures, which is leading to the increased adoption of flash storage (or solid-state drives) for performance-hungry tier-one storage environments. And they need greater efficiencies from storage solutions for backup and archiving as well.

All in all, a lot more is expected from the storage infrastructure for not necessarily any more money—and the challenges are likely to get worse before they get better.

What enterprises need, for now and for the future, is a single storage solution that delivers varied levels of performance to satisfy the requirements of their different workloads. The solution should include:

  • Flash storage for workloads that demand the highest levels of performance, such as online transaction processing systems, virtualisation and big data analytics, to name a few.
  • Flash mixed with hard disk drives (HDD) for selected workloads where performance can be dynamically increased with limited flash capacity, such as to handle boot storms in virtual desktop infrastructure environments.
  • HDD-based storage that offers large capacity and the lowest cost per gigabyte for workloads such as backup and archiving, where performance is much less of a consideration.

Not only should your storage solution include all of the above performance capabilities, but it should also be able to automatically move data between those levels as needed. That way, the solution matches the optimal application performance needs with the optimal system cost, based on cost per gigabyte for data that is not performance-sensitive or cost per IOPS for data that is performance-sensitive.

Dell is one of the few vendors that can offer this type of solution—one that is architected to incorporate flash and HDD drives in concert, combined with automated tiering functionality that enables the most efficient use of every disk. Of the few products on the market that can provide these capabilities, solutions from Dell are by far the most cost efficient, due to:

  • Innovations in the architecture and in the use of multi-level cell and single-level cell flash drives. These innovations deliver a five-time price advantage over competitive all-flash configurations and bring down the cost of flash to the point where it is comparable to HDD in cost/performance metrics.
  • The use of ultra-dense storage enclosures for the cost-efficient storage of unstructured or cold data.
  • An architectural approach that combines flash and HDD storage so they are simple to manage, reducing operating costs.
  • A modular scale-out architecture that enables organisations to scale storage performance and capacity in a seamless, non-disruptive manner.
  • Enterprise-class features for replication and resiliency to ensure the highest levels of availability, along with features such as thin provisioning and snapshots to maximise storage efficiencies.

Because data is growing at such a rapid rate with no end in sight, it is important that organisations get their storage costs under control as quickly as possible. It is equally important that they ensure that their storage solutions are capable of meeting all of the performance requirements of today’s applications, as well as those in the future.

Fortunately, the solution to both of these challenges—cost and performance—is available in a single package from a single vendor. Dell is offering the Dell Performance Analysis Collection Kit, or DPACK, a free tool that gives businesses full insights on their infrastructure bottlenecks within 24 hours.

Visit Dell’s Performance Analysis Collection Kit webpage to get started.

Discover how Dell Fluid File System enables organisations to gain control of their data, reduce complexity, and meet growing data demands.
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