Blog | August 20, 2012

If You Don't Start Selling Flash Storage Now, You'll Hate Yourself Later

By The Business Solutions Network

you're currently selling backup and business continuity solutions, there's a good chance you're offering a disk-based solution that includes a local backup server coupled with a remote backup solution. However, have you considered what you could be missing by not also selling flash-based storage? In a recent article in ComputerWorld, titled, "Flash Storage Can Help Some IT Operations," the author shares the results of a survey of 255 IT professionals, conducted by TheInfoPro, which revealed about 7% were currently using all-flash arrays and another 6% said they were planning to make the move within the next 18 months. Even more revealing was the fact that another 37% of respondents said they planned to implement less expensive solid state disk solutions in the near future. Other research corroborates these findings. According to IC Insights, flash revenue will overtake DRAM (dynamic random access memory) revenue by 2016. An IDC study revealed that solid state storage revenue doubled between 2010 and 2011 -- going from $2.4 billion to $5 billion. 

One reason for the growing interest in this technology is that as more companies evaluate flash storge, they're finding impressive results. AMD, for example, recently deployed a 6 TB flash storage array from WhipTail, which helped reduce latency by a factor of 50 and yielded a 40% performance improvement over its hard disk drives.

I recently spoke with Thomas Isakovich, CEO and founder of Nimbus Data Systems, a flash storage vendor that boasts 230 customers using its NAND flash modules, including eBay and the U.S. Department of Defense. Isakovich shared that in the past, Nimbus storage costs were around $12.65 per gigabyte for the hardware, RAID overhead, file system, software licenses, and first year of support. With the unveiling of its Gemini Flash Memory Array, the cost per gigabyte is now 20% lower, making this a viable solution not just for large enterprises, but many of your midmarket customers as well.

I asked Isakovich to share his thoughts on what kinds of end users this technology a good fit for. He emphasized this is not a fit for small businesses yet, but medium-to-large businesses that meet the following criteria:

1. Businesses that need very responsive databases. One example is The Allant Group, a 245-employee, $43 million company that provides marketing analytics solutions, implemented a flash memory platform to power its business-critical Oracle databases and reaped a 10x improvement in transaction performance and an 80% reduction in operating expenses.

2. Businesses with at least 200 virtual desktops and/or 550 virtual servers. Virtualization and flash storage go hand-in-hand, with users reporting up to 16x improvements in boot-storm performance. During its virtualization benchmark tests, AMD reported it was able to achieve 86,000 I/Os per second for virtual machines that previously performed at only 6,000 I/Os per second.

If you have customers that meet these criteria and you're not yet offering flash-based storage solutions, there's no better time than the present to start investigating these offerings -- at least as a complement to the hard disk drive solutions you're currently selling.  Contrary to the opinions you may have formed years ago about flash storage (i.e. too expensive, not reliable enough), it's come a long ways since then, and it's generating tangible benefits for the companies using it as well as the VARs and MSPs selling it.