Back in a FLASH!

After a long hiatus it’s time to begin this blog again, like my weight loss regime, I’ve run out of excuses and it’s time to put the effort it!

 There has been so much going on and so many interesting developments in the industry.. it’s time to throw some ideas out there and let’s see what interests you..

How would you build a storage array if you knew nothing about disk drives? I guess you would do what XtremeIO have done! I wrote the following for a SNIA newsletter but you might find it interesting..

“Adoption of new technologies always seems to follow the same maturation cycle. History shows that we first think of new technologies with the old mindset; remember the “horseless carriage”. Then eventually we re-assess the use-cases and then take full advantage of the innovation. Imagine a world today without motorised transportation.

Today the same pattern in the storage industry!  For a few years now, leading storage vendors have been incorporating FLASH storage into their arrays; the horseless carriage. The FLASH devices are being used instead of mechanical disks, but are being used with the ‘old’ mindset. Doing this has created tremendous value for the market as there has been a fundamental shift. The shift is to use the FLASH to deliver performance, while mechanical disks provide the low cost storage. With the right amount of automation the cost of storage systems can be reduced, in some cases around the 30% mark.

However, is there more benefit to using FLASH as a storage medium and re-thinking the whole thing? The answer is yes, and hence a number of FLASH start-ups have sprung up. These companies are engineering storage products from the ground up to use FLASH as the storage media, and the results are fantastic.

As an example of this change consider the RAID mechanism for protecting data. One of the fundamental constructs of the current RAID algorithms is that you are dealing with a set of physical disk drives. The algorithms have therefore been designed to understand the locality of the data and in essence attempt to overcome the physical limitations of physical drives such as seek times.

Now consider FLASH memory, there are no seek times and in fact there is no concept of ‘devices’, add FLASH you get more capacity! With these factors in mind the data protection algorithms can we rewritten to perform better protection with less overhead! One vendor has shown how ‘double parity’ protection, (equivalent to RAID-6), carries an average overhead of just 1.2 i/os. Dramatically different to the reads and writes that have to be done in a traditional RAID-6 system!

This is just the beginning, as we move into the ‘big data’ world, its technologies like this which will enable us to make best use of all the data that is available, and make a profound impact on the world we live in!”

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One response to “Back in a FLASH!

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