Learning Flash: For Storage Engineers

If you are a storage engineer and have a pulse, then you cannot deny we are in the midst of the single most defining era in data storage history.  Never before have we witnessed a quantum leap of such magnitude in storage performance, efficiency and density.  The Flash Revolution is NOW!

The great thing about being a storage engineer is that storage has always changed slowly.  Storage engineers aren’t surprised by new things very often.  Outside of updated GUIs and incremental improvements, we can pick up on pretty much anything “new” that comes our way.  Even “new” stuff is usually just re-packaged old stuff—Software Defined Storage anyone?  Another great thing about being a storage engineer is that storage has historically been mechanical.  From disk drives to tape drives, we can see and physically understand the mechanics for data storage and retrieval.  If you know how a record player works, you can figure out a hard drive.  All that has changed.

Storage Evolution:
Now, after decades of stagnation, the storage industry is finally evolving.  It is not evolving gradually, either.  Just like X-Men, it is taking a sudden, quantum leap.  One minute, you are an ordinary storage engineer, listening to your favorite compact disc; the next minute, you’ve developed telekinesis powers and are streaming music to your phablet.  Yeah, it changes that fast.

Flash adoption is both viral and addictive. Once your users and customers experience the tangible benefits of solid-state, they will not settle for mechanical.  Over the next 5 years, flash will fundamentally transform storage as we know it.  Initially it will take primary storage by storm—where mechanical latency is doing the most damage.  Soon, traditional arrays and even hybrid arrays will cease to exist.  Archive and backup storage will fall not long after.  End-to-end silicon is the future of datacenter infrastructure.

Skeptical?  Think about your mobile devices for a moment.  Tablets, phones and, even laptops, are all shipping nearly 100% flash these days.  Hard disks are still cheaper, but the benefits of flash in mobile computing cannot be denied.

  • Less Space
  • Less Heat
  • Less Power
  • Greater Reliability
  • Greater Speed

What if you had to pack around a hard drive in your phone throughout the day?  Imagine the increase in size, how awful the battery life would be, how hot the phone would get, how often the drive would fail and how slow all your apps would run…  No, disk isn’t suitable for smart phones, tablets or even laptops today.  So then, why is it still good enough for your datacenter; why is it still good enough for your customers?

This Blog’s for You:
If you want to dive into the inner-workings of flash and have been a bit frustrated with the scattering of detailed information available and the non-sensical flash posturing of sales people masquerading as flash experts, you have come to the right place.  The goal of this series is to discuss flash from the semi-conductor up and share all the nitty-gritty details.  I will arm you with the information you need to understand, research and select the right flash platform based off the criteria that really matters.

Let’s get started!

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