Lets start by making something very clear. We know that Flash is contagious. And if you’re an all-flash user today, chances are you know this as well. This post is not about the contiguous nature of flash but rather the hidden benefits of moving to an all-flash array (AFA) infrastructure. AFA usage is evolving and users tell us its become a critical component of their “IT transformation” journey. To help understand what this means, we commissioned a vendor-neutral worldwide survey of over 300 IT professionals conducted by Freeform Dynamics. The inside track research titled, “All-Flash Arrays: A catalyst for transformation” maps customers’ AFA experiences and expectations to their business outcomes. Here are some of the key findings:
1. Transformative technologies can be hard to spot at first – but they are very real
Nearly 70 percent of respondents reported using flash for database-driven applications with the most common benefits including application performance, data center efficiency and simplicity. Results show AFA technology also being used extensively to drive innovation through the building of cloud infrastructure, real time analytics and mobile apps. Flash is transformative. It frees up resources, allows for greater consolidation and enables a new wave of development that was stifled because of bottlenecks with traditional storage. Developers are building more ‘immersive experience’ analytical and mobile applications that are dependent on the drastically lower latencies of AFAs.
By the way, for the first time, a majority of the users responded that they have deployed AFAs as multi-role or general purpose rather than just a point solutions!
2. Hybrid has been eclipsed
Is it time to wave Hybrid Storage goodbye? Maybe. While there still are some areas where hybrid arrays are chosen, the survey shows that AFAs are becoming the dominant storage paradigm. This is a clear change from a year ago when users were more inclined to purchase a hybrid array or just a tier of solid-state drives to address specific performance issues. The value proposition for Hybrid arrays, which was largely cost-effectiveness, is disappearing fast. Even though disk is still cheaper for raw capacity, the falling cost and greater reliability and density of Flash, plus its ability to support inline data compression and de-duplication, have made disk redundant in many use cases.
3. A third, not-so-obvious, wave is emerging
The majority of survey respondents currently using all-flash recognized opportunities around operational benefits in areas such as IT automation and reduced need for manual system tuning. The removal of I/O bottlenecks and the ability to respond to changing infrastructure demands autonomously through self-service storage management allows organizations to deliver better user experiences to the cloud scale applications they support. But this requires looking beyond the obvious. And it will require a willingness to innovate and transform people and processes. It was clear from the survey that almost 80% survey respondents said that they would be ‘bolder’ with their next AFA project. Their experience tells them they didn’t aim high enough or that they discovered opportunities along the way that they had not know or planed for. That, to us, is Transformation!
Freeform Dynamics observed that AFA technologies have penetrated the broader storage market in three waves: The first wave of flash was positioned around accelerating point applications. The second wave elevated flash use to general purpose applications, enabling businesses to develop transformational software. The third wave advances AFAs to the critical foundation layer for private/hybrid clouds, infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platforms and software-defined data centers. Done properly AFAs are far more than just very-fast storage arrays.
Want to learn more?
To see other key survey questions, results and insightful commentary, check out the entire Freeform Dynamics report here.