All Flash Arrays (AFA) have received a lot of hype in recent years, but despite being touted as the best storage solution for everything, this is not strictly the case.

By Lourens Sanders, solution architect at Infinidat

Aside from being prohibitively expensive for many applications because of capacity challenges, AFAs suffer from performance bottlenecks because the media itself dictates the speed. This makes them less than ideal for critical applications that need predictable low latency and high performance.

Solid-state arrays (SSA) offer the solution, balancing cost with extreme performance and reliability to power the most mission critical applications with ease.

All flash not always the answer

One of the biggest concerns around AFA is the cost, especially when high-capacity storage is required. In addition, performance bottlenecks occur because the read and write speeds are dictated by the media itself.

This means that, while AFA offers low latency, there is still latency involved, and this can be unpredictable. In situations where mission critical applications are involved, this can be problematic. In addition, the capacity of AFA can be challenging, as it is typically offered in terms of effective capacity rather than actual storage ability, which makes efficient sizing a problem.

Predictable high-performance storage

SSA address the issues experienced around AFA for applications and technologies that require highly granular, ultra-low and predictable latency as well as 100% guaranteed uptime. This is driven by Dynamic Random-Access Memory (DRAM), and a combination of superior caching algorithm that dramatically enhances read and write functions.

This effectively enables predictable sub-milisecond latency that never fluctuates. The built-in triple redundant architectureensures 100% uptime, with a single topology that makes SSA cost effective. In addition, SSA is specified according to usable capacity, which makes growth paths and upgrades more predictable.

Ideal for critical workloads

SSA is the ideal solution for Tier 0 and Tier 1 applications that require constant, predictable ultra-low latency from a read/write perspective, as well as superior capability for input/outputs per second (IOPS). It is also well-suited to applications that need to scale in a predictable fashion.

These applications are typically block-based and run over fibre channel and iSCSI protocola, including mission critical workloads such as financial transactions, e-commerce, online transactional processing and database queries. It is also ideal for other high-performance applications like data mining, analysis and core business processing.

With 100% guaranteed uptime, SSA gives a superior customer experience and performance predictability, so services are always up and running. This helps to mitigate risk and provides peace of mind that there will be no downtime or bottlenecks in the storage layer, which can have a knock-on effect to the front-end.

In South Africa, more and more businesses need to consolidate workloads in a single platform to break down siloes and integrate data sets while leveraging high levels of performance, low latency and cost effectiveness. This makes SSA the ideal solution in many instances.

Not always the answer

While SSA is clearly required in the local market, it must be noted that not all applications necessitate this level of performance.

For 95% of workloads, a hybrid storage solution leveraging traditional hard disk drives with intelligent neural caching will deliver the performance required with higher capacity at a lower price point, making it more cost effective for these applications.

Storage is never a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and it is important to work with your storage provider to bring the right mix to meet requirements.