Organizations opting for flash storage may acquire the technology in several forms: Cards for servers, specialized storage appliances, hybrid storage arrays housing both flash and traditional disk drives, and storage arrays strictly built on flash. Some buyers get assistance from resellers and integrators as they evaluate the choices-but other enterprises question whether the channel has much to offer yet in an emerging market.
Brown says flash storage has specific roles to play in the data center and therefore won't absorb all storage requirements in the near term. "It's a great tool and a fantastic technology that complements different workloads," Brown says. "People want to use flash as an enhancement, either from a caching perspective to turbo charge things or for specific applications."
Flash Storage Effective for VDI Implementation
VDI is one emerging use case for flash storage. Imperial PFS, an insurance premium financing company, adopted flash storage to boost its ongoing virtual desktop infrastructure rollout.
The company, with corporate offices in Kansas City, Mo. and Jersey City, N.J., is converting 30 branch offices from desktops and local servers to thin clients and virtual desktops. Four physical servers now support more than 450 desktops and will eventually back more than 500 desktops once the remaining 10 offices cut over within the next few weeks.
Virtual desktop deployments are subject to crippling boot storms when many users simultaneously log on at the beginning of the workday. Storage is often the bottleneck amid those periodic I/O spikes.
Jason Walker, senior network engineer at Imperial PFS, says only one storage approach he evaluated addressed both the boot-up issue and the other technical challenge of the company's VDI initiative: flash storage. The company ultimately selected Virident's FlashMAX II, a flash storage card.
"The storage can keep ahead of user log on," Walker says. "They can just boot up as fast as they need to. The log on storm doesn't really exist."
Walker says flash storage is the way to go for VDI deployments, adding that flash will likely turn up in other areas. He cites Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server platforms-and their administrators-as potential beneficiaries of faster storage. "I'm just going to need more," Walker says. "Once they get a taste of flash, it is kind of addicting."
Flash Reduces Latency, Boosts Performance