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How Flash Storage Could Decide The Future Of Your Business

05/11/2015 1:10 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Today, we take for granted the on-demand services that our smart phones and devices conjure up at the touch of a finger. We hail cabs via the Ola app, and once on the road we respond to work emails, look over our bank balances, check Facebook and Twitter, and maybe do some comparison shopping on Flipkart and Snapdeal. If traffic is particularly bad, we might finalise our vacation plans via MakeMyTrip, and use Amazon to shop for clothing that is appropriate for the weather conditions, confirmed by Accuweather, at the holiday destination.

These daily life routines, which up until a few years ago took hours or days to complete, are now handled in a matter of minutes, thanks to the consumerisation of IT and lifestyle services. Businesses and service providers are realising that consumers are adopting mobile technology at exponential rates and are scrambling to keep up with the demand for 24/7 connected services.

"Data-driven enterprises in both public and private sectors have to scale their IT infrastructure to handle the volume and velocity of the massive influx of data and requests from a 24/7 connected world."

Interestingly, it isn't just our smart phones and computers that are connected. According to Cisco, the Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to connect up to 50 billion global "chatty" devices and sensors that can be managed and controlled for large-scale automation. Vending machines report back their inventory to their distribution centres, thermostats and sensors in smart buildings provide updates on local conditions so lighting, temperature and access can be intelligently automated, agricultural sensors help manage irrigation and cultivation based on weather forecasts and local soil conditions. These are just a few illustrations of the connectivity and automation that the IoT can enable. Smart cities such as Barcelona and Singapore are being planned and built on an IoT backbone to provide government and health services, and transport, traffic, water, waste and surveillance management to urban centres.

It is clear that the rules are being redefined. It is also clear that the new set of service expectations, interactions and capabilities are signs that flash memory is playing a key role as a disruptive technology. The "Age of Flash Storage" is now upon us and is driving the digital and mobility revolution by allowing for smaller, sleeker and untethered smart devices that deliver more services and offerings which has led to a massive consumer adoption of mobility. These rapid developments in technology have further fuelled consumers' expectations for advanced and sophisticated services that better their daily lives. Consumers also demand a high degree of responsiveness from these services and will quickly switch to a competing service rather than wait for an under-performing one. A lousy experience doesn't just kill the mobile app; it kills the brand and invariably the business.

To stay relevant, companies must meet evolving customer expectations by providing a superior customer experience that drives profitability. To do this, data-driven enterprises in both public and private sectors have to scale their IT infrastructure to handle the volume and velocity of the massive influx of data and requests from a 24/7 connected world. Downtime and latency issues cannot be allowed to impact the user experience.

"Flash storage uses advanced chip technology and has no moving parts, making it faster, more robust, more reliable and efficient than traditional hard drives."

In addition, enterprises have to provide a host of services and solutions that respond in real time to consumer demands and movements. It is particularly crucial for enterprises in the areas of governance, telecom, enterprise virtualisation, e-commerce and finance with a large mobile customer base, to upgrade their digital infrastructure so they can stay nimble and react swiftly to customer trends. According to a study sponsored by VMWare, if an enterprise doesn't provide the mobile services that a customer values they will quickly lose that customer to a competing organisation that does.

Also adding more complexity to storage demands that businesses face is the fact that the information being generated is moving to the cloud, requiring virtualisation of storage. Enterprises have to prioritise data security and customer privacy and wellbeing by setting up dedicated infrastructure and resources to effectively manage this complex area. The assurance that critical company and customer information will not be lost and will be easily accessible in a safe and secure manner is now an expectation.

This is where flash storage continues to play its role in transforming enterprise platforms into efficient and high-performing engines that support the new era of digital business. Flash storage uses advanced chip technology and has no moving parts, making it faster, more robust, more reliable and efficient than traditional hard drives. Enterprises today support many global business units and run massive performance-sensitive workloads that can benefit from using flash memory, which enables faster data transfers to and from the processors. When compared to the typical HDDs employed, Flash memory in SanDisk's products like the InfiniFlash, provides 50 times the performance, translating to much quicker response times for heavy workloads. A useful feature for lightning sales or for handling those peak hour cab bookings!

Flash storage also has optimising software that allows complex configurations to be managed with ease. This winning combination of hardware and software makes it the obvious choice in heavy use data analytics systems that are part of most large enterprises today. Using flash technology Amazon and Google analyse user statuses or search terms in real time and extract value from them, thereby triggering user-optimised advertising on customer pages.

At an operational level, organisations are always looking to manage their data centres for cost and efficiency. When compared with traditional hard drives, enterprise flash storage offers more density, correspondingly reducing physical space requirements. Power and cooling costs are significantly lower thanks to five times the energy efficiency, thereby lessening the carbon footprint as well as the bottom-line. Flash is also more reliable, which translates to significantly lower downtimes and maintenance costs. Another major advantage that Flash-based storage brings to the table is the fact that it allows scale-to-fit sizing with non-disruptive upgrades of capacity and/or compute. All these factors are responsible for its increasing adoption by enterprise IT.

"Whether or not a consumer is likely to act favourably with your product can depend entirely on how you capture data and analyse it."

A semiconductor market report entitled "Enterprise SSD technology & market" predicts that the use of flash storage in enterprises systems will soar over five years through 2015, increasing by a factor of 50 because of the benefits of reduced hardware requirements, total cost of ownership, power and floor space

Today, according to IBM, more than 2 quintillion bytes of data are generated daily and this number is only going higher, with more and more enterprise-level products entering the hands of consumers. Soon, businesses will be overrun with the sheer volume of data heading their way. It won't be just about storing data any more -- the future lies in making data and storage work efficiently.

Information is power in the digital age and for a business to be competitive in this era, it needs to protect and leverage the information for its benefit. Whether or not a consumer is likely to act favourably with your product can depend entirely on how you capture data and analyse it. Flash storage can make this difference for an enterprise and it can very well be the deciding factor in whether businesses can be successful tomorrow.

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