It’s time for all-flash says IBM, but IT chiefs won’t necessarily agree

“We’re going all-flash!” That was the message this week from IBM product marketing VP Eric Herzog. Though that’s not quite the truth, Herzog’s proclamations were pretty clear.

He said: “Regardless of workload for primary storage, all-flash is the answer. That even includes big data workloads.”

These bold statements came as we spoke about some Big Blue storage array product refreshes, namely the addition of specifically all-flash SKUs to the V7000 and V5000 Storwize boxes.

Previously, you could build all-flash iterations of these products but that involved, according to Herzog, buying many separate part numbers. Now IBM offers the V7000F and V5030F, with upgraded Broadwell processors.

With these, said Herzog, the IBM flash product range now has, “at different price points, feature sets and performance levels, something for each need. Cloud, remote office, big data, high end server; we’ve got all-flash that’ll fit.”

Claiming there is now “price parity” between flash and (presumably high-end) spinning disk and with an all-flash market at $6 billion annually according to IDC figures, said Herzog, he would, “recommend not using anything but flash for any primary data,” and that it is now time to retire spinning disk arrays to lower tier operations such as backup and archive.

With this in mind, I decided to test the water with the next IT decision-maker I spoke to. This was John Thorpe, IT director at web hosts Millennia. I briefly outlined Herzog’s argument to him and asked when would he go all-flash.

He said: “When I need it. There are a lot of people saying you need it in your life. But, do you?”

“As long as your working set size is within your available SSD [in a hybrid flash setup] then everything happening, on for example SQL Server, will be fine. The only time you need all-flash is if you have a large number of SQL datasets that you need access to; in effect requiring random access.”

He added: “Far too many people see it as a panacea but it’s a pointless way of storing lots of data.”

You could argue about both that “they would say that, wouldn’t they?” One has an interest in selling storage arrays with all-flash on board while the other has recently re-vamped his datacentres with a hybrid flash solution.

Nevertheless it’s an interesting snapshot of where vendors try to lead and what IT decision-makers might think of it.