What Is The Role Of Flash Storage In A Private Cloud Computing Platform?

Performance requirements in different cloud computing environments are stretching the physical limits of the conventional rotating hard disk drives to levels that haven’t ever been experienced before. And because the normal hard disk drives (HDDs) heavily rely upon mechanical operations to correctly perform their tasks, they are running up against their limits in handling the random input and output operations that are demanded by the highly virtualized production environments, of which cloud computing is a good leading example.

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What needs to be done to save the HDDs as we know them?

Many organizations today are putting more and more of their critical operation applications into t private cloud computing infrastructures. However, they have come to the realization that their ordinary computing systems have to be upgraded, in particular their storage solutions, so as to cope with the ever demanding cloud computing environments. The availability and affordability of enterprise-grade solid-state storage solutions fortunately is enabling more and more companies to deliver the speed and overall performance that is demanded of cloud computing, private or public.

Though solid-state flash storage has been around for some time now, it is only recently that the price of enterprise-grade flash storage has come down to a point where it is now affordable in comparison to hard disk drives storage solutions. However, flash storage is still far more expensive on a cost per gigabyte measure. This simply means it is not the storage solution that a small business entity would be looking for when it comes to normal data backup, disaster recovery or archiving activities within its private cloud.

When however you look at flash storage on a cost-per-IOPS (input/output operations -per-second) basis, it is definitely more efficient and cost effective when compared to HDD storage. More important, solid state flash storage offers a better performance than that of all hard disk drives put together. So for applications such as those used for online transaction processing or for e-commerce, that all demand the highest IOPS levels for cloud computing operations, flash storage is really the only way to opt for. Now the question for IT decision makers revolves around what to look for in a flash storage solution. The following are some of the key issues to think about when it comes to this form of data storage:

• Go for an all flash storage option or a hybrid array

Information technology decision makers in an organization have the option of using either an all-flash storage array or a hybrid solution that combines HDD drives and solid-state flash. An all-flash storage array generally will cost more than a hybrid option but it delivers a greater overall performance. A hybrid array typically will use intelligent tiering to allocate storage based on the performance requirements of the application. The best way to decide on which of these two storage options to opt for need to be performance based. While at it, look at the requirements of your targeted applications and their overall growth.

• Integration with existing infrastructure

Whichever storage platform you opt for, you will want to ensure that it integrates well with the existing environment. If your company for example utilizes flash in a private cloud for tier one level production environment, you will want to ensure that the opted for flash solution integrates well with your archiving, backup and disaster recovery environments. Look at the architecture of the flash solution. Note that a scale-out architecture will give you elastic scalability, something that is really important in cloud computing. This is because you may require moving away from your existing scale-up infrastructure at some point.

• Resiliency matters

If you are running multiple applications in a private cloud, then you will want to make sure that your flash storage solution never experiences downtimes, planned or unplanned. This means having a management platform that does not require a planned downtime for maintenance. You will also want a flash storage solution that minimizes the overall performance degradation in the event of a failure in any single drive within a cluster.

Another important resiliency problem with flash storage is the endurance of the medium. Like any other storage medium, flash can only support a finite number of writes during its lifecycle. This means that you will need to consider solutions that can minimize the writes and maximize the life span of the drives.

If you want to move applications into a private cloud, you can expect to come up against the bottlenecks that are caused by slow input and output performance of the HDDs. If this hasn’t happened, then you are very lucky so far. If your organization needs to incorporate flash storage at some level so as to deliver on the performance that is demanded by highly virtualized cloud computing environments, make sure to examine the available solutions, keeping in mind the above discussed issues.

If you need more advice regarding this, you can talk to us at USWired. We provide San Jose IT support and more!