July 24, 2016
Over the past few years, new faces in the storage industry arose to further the innovation of flash storage technology. Companies such as Nimble and Pure Storage made their names selling hybrid and all flash storage arrays to enterprises and SMBs. At the same time, already established storage developers, such as NetApp and EMC, created their own all flash storage solutions. The writing is on the wall. The storage industry is in the middle of a major shift. Before long, flash storage will be the definitive storage platform for tier 1 applications.
In another area of the technology industry, converged infrastructure solutions are also garnering a lot of appeal. Converged infrastructure consists of pre-tested, pre-approved data center designs incorporating compute, storage, and networking. The designs are blueprints for constructing a competent, powerful data center. Now, Cisco and their partners are showcasing new converged infrastructure solutions that incorporate all flash storage into their design.
When these two movements in the technology industry converge, they are sure to yield an impressive design.
All Flash Converged Infrastructure around the Industry
There are four leading converged infrastructure solutions on the market today. At the center of each of them is Cisco. They supply the compute with their Unified Computing System (UCS) servers, and they supply the networking with their Nexus Series switches. VMware is also common among the all flash converged infrastructure options below and supplies the hypervisor.
It can be difficult to keep each converged infrastructure solution straight, but the important thing to remember is that the primary variation between each model is the storage developer. In that regard, selecting a converged infrastructure for your environment is really a matter of selecting a storage vendor.
SmartStack — Features Nimble Storage Predictive Flash storage array
FlashStack — Features PureStorage all flash storage array
VBlock — Features VCE all flash storage array
FlexPod — Features NetApp all flash storage array
Benefits of All Flash Converged Infrastructure
- Faster Deployment and Lower Risk: Because the design is pre-tested and pre-approved by the manufacturer, the solution can be deployed faster. The internal IT team does not need to spend time integrating, configuring, and testing the different components of the stack. It is all designed to work together flawlessly. Furthermore, converged infrastructure reduces the risk traditionally associated with data center deployments.
- Scalability: Converged infrastructure is a pre-packaged solution. If the data center needs to be expanded, it is as easy as placing an order for another SmartStack, FlashStack, or other converged infrastructure.
- Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): While any converged infrastructure solution is going to have a higher up-front cost compared to expanding your existing data center, the TCO is actually lower. A converged infrastructure unifies the data center behind a single banner. With a single architecture design at the center of your strategy, your business will save money down the road on maintaining, refreshing, and expanding your data center.
What Does All Flash Do for Converged Infrastructures?
Converged infrastructure is not required to include all flash storage, but during this transitional phase in the storage industry, there is little reason to invest in a new data center design that features a waning technology. That being said, all flash delivers some impressive advantages to converged infrastructure solutions.
- Doubling Down on Performance: The FlashStack, SmartStack, FlexPod, and VBlock will deliver a significant boost in performance compared to legacy architectures, and that dynamic is only increased by the inclusion of flash storage. For example, flash storage has been shown to increase the input output per second rate (IOPS) by up to 1000%.
- Ease of Management: Converged infrastructure solutions have central management software to help the team manage the entire stack. Standalone all flash storage arrays also have their own management software to control the flash. When flash is included in converged infrastructure, it can also be managed in that central software.
The Future of the Data Center: All Flash Converged Infrastructure
Data center design is converging, condensing, and striving to use less equipment for larger workloads. Converged infrastructure and flash storage are a continuation of that trend. Both use less equipment to accomplish more. Expect flash to continue to supplant disk as the primary storage medium for tier 1 applications over the next few years and all flash converged infrastructure solutions to become a more familiar sight in data centers around the country.
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