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All-flash or Hybrid Flash: How to Decide

The latest evolutions in storage arrays can make for complex decision making. Here’s what you need to know.

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Flash storage has quickly taken off, thanks to its ability to use less capacity with greater speed. Flash boosts performance and enables companies to reap benefits like reduced power consumption and consolidated apps per machine.

Initially quite expensive, flash storage had been used reservedly, such as for subsets of application data. Although improvements and efficiencies in the technology have resulted in lower prices, there are still cases where using hard disk drives (HDDs) is either more efficient or more economical. And this is why we’re now seeing the emergence of hybrid flash storage solutions.

Let’s take a look at the options.

All-flash arrays

Data on all-flash arrays is stored on solid state disks (SSDs) instead of HDDs. They use flash media only for persistent or non-volatile storage — data that would be unaffected by power shut-off.

With all-flash, speed is the name of the game. Based on SSDs with no moving parts, they use flash memory to quickly write and perform I/O operations. The performance benefit alone makes it worth running mission-critical apps on all-flash — where speeding the time to get data in hand can make a bottom-line difference.

But performance isn’t the only advantage. There are cost savings, too. All-flash arrays are typically smaller and take up less space on the storage rack. Also, because flash runs on SSDs, it uses less power because there are no moving parts — and less cooling due to fewer components producing heat.

While critics say all-flash arrays are expensive, IDC suggests decision makers look at the full picture. “When all-flash arrays are deployed as general-purpose storage platforms for primary applications, the total cost of ownership advantage flash brings to the table relative to hard disk drive–based systems is overwhelming,” said Eric Burgener, IDC research director for storage. “Because they may not fully understand the business-level impacts of flash deployment at scale, many C-level personnel erroneously still view flash as an expensive enterprise storage alternative.”

Hybrid flash arrays

Like the name suggests, hybrid flash arrays mix SSDs and HDDs. Hybrid enables companies to take advantage of flash’s high performance levels, while benefiting from the predictability of HDD.

Organizations that have storage infrastructures relying solely on HDDs find that adding some flash storage for certain applications makes economic sense. It enables them to slowly transition existing legacy equipment, achieving improved performance levels while not biting off the entire cost of going all-flash all at once.

Another advantage is the ability to gain adaptability and efficiency. Traditional HDDs typically can store the largest amounts of data. But that has a downside: it makes them slow. By mixing the speed of flash with the capacity of HDDs, the hybrid approach offers a balanced infrastructure.

The next generation

HPE Nimble Storage platform offers all-flash and adaptive (or hybrid) flash arrays. Both options offer performance improvements and cost efficiencies — regardless of your existing storage architecture.

Both arrays provide greater capacity and speeds than previous models, plus six-nines guaranteed availability, and cloud-ready capabilities, as well as timeless storage and satisfaction guarantees.

Read more about the fast, simple, cloud-ready arrays here.

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