Flash Technology in the Data Center: Key Considerations for Customers

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1 WHITE PAPER Flash Technology in the Data Center: Key Considerations for Customers July SanDisk Drive, Milpitas, CA SanDIsk Corporation. All rights reserved

2 Table of Contents 1. Executive Summary: Flash in the Data Center: Survey Results Flash Storage Growth in Servers and Storage Systems Key Findings in the Survey Evaluating SSDs for the Next Wave of Deployments A Look Ahead: Benefits of Using Solid-State Drives

3 1. Executive Summary: Flash in the Data Center: Survey Results SanDisk commissioned a survey of enterprise customers who have deployed solid-state drives (SSDs) in their data centers. This form of deployment includes the use of flash SSDs in both server and storage devices, inclusive of storage arrays, storage systems and storage appliances. These types of installations have led to the rising adoption of flash in the data center whether for enterprise data centers or cloud service provider (CSP) data centers. SSD use is associated with improved performance for workloads, which then translates into faster time-to-results for business. The study looked at the drivers for those deployments, use cases, and business results. In all, 215 respondents completed the survey, providing data about the ways that flash is being leveraged in the data center. All of the respondents were based in North America. Top Drivers for Flash Storage Use Workloads applications and databases drive the use of flash solid-state drives. Customers are learning more about the performance and capacity increases they gain from using SSDs - all of which gets them faster time-to-results and reduced operational costs when it comes to data center space, power and cooling. The impact of introducing SSDs is becoming more clear, to more customers, over time. It is driven by practical experience in applying SSDs to workloads that are data-intensive, and that exhibit random data accesses that are found more quickly on solid-state devices than on rotating hard-disk drives. No SSD yet/i don t know 23.3% Faster boot times for virtual desktops (VDI) 19.1% More VMs per server (higher VM counts per physical server) 11.2% Speedier processing of online transactions 15.4% Reduced space-related costs within the data center (through workload consolidation onto fewer servers) 4.2% Reduced power/cooling costs 4.2% Lower maintenance costs 9.3% Improved analytics performance 13.5% Figure 1.: What is the biggest gain SSDs have brought to your infrastructure? The top drivers for flash in the data center, as shown in this survey, included Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) (19.1%); faster transaction processing (15.4%); improved analytics performance (13.5%); and virtualization, with the deployment of more VMs per physical server (11.2%). All of these workloads are being identified by customers as benefiting from the use of SSDs. 3

4 Operational costs benefits are also anticipated by customers, based on their SSD use. They expect to see lower maintenance costs associated with their use of SSD-based storage, and reduced power/ cooling costs because the SSD-enabled servers and storage arrays take up less space than HDDbased systems. Many customers have heard about SSD deployments but have not yet tried them: 23% of respondents reported that they had no SSDs installed at their site yet, and so had no hands-on experience of working with SSDs and SSD-enabled systems. It is also true that many customers are unfamiliar with the value proposition of flash SSD use. A variety of concerns about flash, and its cost and endurance, surfaced in the survey report. Inhibitors to flash adoption at respondents sites included: concerns about cost (37%); satisfaction with their current storage solutions (16.3%); concerns about SSD reliability (10.2%). I am planning to do an evaluation of flash drives 20% The initial acquisition costs are too high (Capex) 37.2% My current storage solution is sufficient for my storage needs 16.3% There is not enough proof or data about the reliability of SSDs 10.2% There is not enough proof or data about the performance benefits of SSDs 8.8% There is not enough proof or data about the endurance (longevity) of SSDs 7.4% Figure 2.: If you have not used SSDs to transform your data center, what is the main factor that is preventing you from doing so? Fully 20% of respondents said they planned to evaluate SSDs for a future deployment. Indeed, many of the customers surveyed were very positive about the prospects for flash storage, whether installed in servers or storage, considering it for installation alongside HDDs - or as a replacement for HDDs for systems that would benefit most from SSD deployments. 2. Flash Storage Growth in Servers and Storage Systems IDC s five-year forecast sees strong growth for enterprise flash (solid state drives, or SSDs), including enterprise SSDs for servers and storage arrays, from The IDC five-year forecast expects enterprise SSD revenue to grow from $3.3 billion in 2013 to $10.9 billion in That represents a 5-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.9 percent. IDC expects unit shipments for enterprise SSDs to grow from 4.8 million units in 2013 to 20.9 million units in That represents a 5-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.1%. 1 1 IDC # : Worldwide Solid State Drive Forecast and Analysis: The Need for Speed Grows, June 2014, Author is: Jeff Janukowicz 4

5 All of this strong growth is driven by business value in the flash-enabled solutions, which improve the performance of applications and databases, and reduce the I/O latency seen in the data center s storage infrastructure. That means that with flash, a speedup in storage performance benefits the entire data center and its IT efficiency. Additional benefits to customers organizations include: workload consolidation on fewer server footprints for workloads like Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), database and analytics, and high I/O rates, as expressed in the I/O operations/second (IOPS) they support. 3. Key Findings in the Survey In this survey, which was conducted by Catapult Communications, 20.5% of respondents reported that they have deployed SSDs in servers. Another 25.6% reported they have deployed SSDs in storage systems. This finding shows the strong trend in installing flash as a means to improving performance of servers and storage systems. Other uses for SSDs are still being established, with lots of runway for growth despite modest beginnings in terms of today s deployments. For example, less than 3% of respondents reported that they have deployed flash for in-memory computing (IMC), although, in general, there is great interest in leveraging IMC for business analytics of large datasets. IMC models are being leveraged by early adopters but are expected to grow, as the IMC ecosystem evolves, as customers identify where it can be used to be an advantage, especially in the analytics area, and as more products come into the marketplace. 4. Evaluating SSDs for the Next Wave of Deployments The survey questions also looked at the level of engagement customers reported with SSD technology: More than 34% of respondents said they are currently evaluating SSDs; 15.4% said they had recently purchased SSDs and another 10.2% said they were in the process of selecting a vendors to supply SSDs for future deployments. There is no doubt that SSDs are being heavily considered in organizations that are looking to move to the next level of performance in a highly networked, highly virtualized computing environment. The leading workloads, though, highlight the impact that flash SSDs are having on data-intensive workloads, such as OLTP (on-line transaction processing), database and analytics. All of these workloads require large datasets and lots of processing power to churn through the large amount of data on-hand, to find the patterns in the data to help guide business initiatives. The benefits of leveraging SSDs to get faster time-to-results reach across vertical industries, including retail, financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and others. Concerns About Using Flash For a long time, prospective customers have had concerns about the cost of acquiring SSDs, in terms of $/GB, and the reliability and endurance of the drives themselves. This survey showed those concerns still exist even though SSD prices are today much more competitive with those of HDDs, and the total cost of acquisition (TCA) is attractive, after total costs are considered. 5

6 Generally, it takes fewer SSDs to supply the same capacity and performance as HDDs - and that factor greatly reduces the amount of data center space required to house the solution, reducing power and cooling costs for the installation and ongoing operations. For example, SanDisk s Optimus family of SAS SSDs range from 100GB up to 4TB in capacity, saving on data center real-estate or the amount of floor space needed to support a given application or workloads. In addition, the difference between SSDs and HDDs, in terms of their pricing, is expected to lessen over time, driven by technology refresh cycles and competition in the marketplace. Familiarity with flash and with its ability to transform processing, capacity and operational costs, is growing. However, because so many customers already have HDDs and HDD-based SANs installed, their familiarity with SSDs may, so far, be somewhat limited. But over time, the number of hybrid arrays - combining HDDs and SSDs - will increase, and there will be more all-flash arrays, as well. 5. A Look Ahead: Benefits of Using Solid-State Drives The data in this survey showed that customers are planning to install more SSDs in the near future. More than 30% of all respondents (31.2%) said they expect to add SSDs to their existing storage deployments that already have HDDs installed. This is seen in Figure 2. (Less than 10% (7.4%) expect to install HDDs only.) The biggest opportunity lies ahead: nearly 28% (27.9%) said they are, as yet, undecided as to what type of storage to install in their next deployments. Undecided 27.9% Adding SSD capacity to existing HDD arrays 31.2% Adding HDD capacity only 7.4% Adding SSD-only arrays 13.5% Adopting virtual storage appliance (VSA) technology 11.6% Deploying PCIe-based flash memory accelerator cards 8.4% Figure 3.: What is your data center s next move in storage? The IT benefits and business benefits of SSDs are clear: more performance, and more capacity, will be provided in less space than before. For example, nearly 20% (19.1%) of respondents see faster bootup times for VDI installations, as many end-users start up their PC/client sessions in viewing centrallystored applications. Other benefits are expected by current and prospective customers, based on the survey data across a wide range of workloads. In this sample, as seen in Figure 3. those expectations took many forms. 6

7 For example, 15.4% of respondents said they expect to see speedier processing of OLTP; 13.5% expect to see improved analytics performance; 11% expect to see more VMs hosted per physical server, improving IT efficiency; and 9.3% expect to see lower maintenance costs. The workloads and the perspectives vary from industry to industry, and from site to site. But the consistent finding in this survey is that IT and business see a set of identifiable benefits in deploying flash in their next-gen deployments, or for technology refresh in current deployments. Deployment Styles for SSDs What shape will future SSD deployments take? This is likely to evolve, over time, as SSDs get more widely adopted across the tiers of the data center and do so across geographic regions and vertical industries. A surprisingly high percent of respondents (27%) expect to leverage flash in their servers, as onboard storage devices. This result reflects the growth in SSD options for servers sold by all of the largest server system vendors (also known as OEMs). Another 18.1% expect to deploy all-flash storage arrays and more of those types of products are being announced in More than 30% expected to use hybrid models for deployment combining HDDs and SSDs to get the benefits of flash by adding it to networked storage that has HDDs. None of the above/i don t know 21.4% Internal server flash storage 27% Networked hybrid flash/disk storage 33.5% Networked all-flash storage 18.1% Figure 4.: Which Solid State Storage device type is at the very top of your list for 2014? All of these deployment styles are valid, and useful. The variety of responses seen in this survey show that selection of storage remains influenced by customer preference, and that familiarity with new technology reinforces confidence in buying more of it, and asking it to take on new tasks. The survey results make it clear that flash is making its presence felt in the data center at all levels of the infrastructure and that customers are increasingly considering flash as an alternative to to HDD storage, due to flash devices efficiency, performance and capacity 7

8 Products, samples and prototypes are subject to update and change for technological and manufacturing purposes. SanDisk Corporation general policy does not recommend the use of its products in life support applications wherein a failure or malfunction of the product may directly threaten life or injury. Without limitation to the foregoing, SanDisk shall not be liable for any loss, injury or damage caused by use of its products in any of the following applications: Special applications such as military related equipment, nuclear reactor control, and aerospace Control devices for automotive vehicles, train, ship and traffic equipment Safety system for disaster prevention and crime prevention Medical-related equipment including medical measurement device Accordingly, in any use of SanDisk products in life support systems or other applications where failure could cause damage, injury or loss of life, the products should only be incorporated in systems designed with appropriate redundancy, fault tolerant or back-up features. Per SanDisk Terms and Conditions of Sale, the user of SanDisk products in life support or other such applications assumes all risk of such use and agrees to indemnify, defend and hold harmless SanDisk Corporation and its affiliates against all damages. Security safeguards, by their nature, are capable of circumvention. SanDisk cannot, and does not, guarantee that data will not be accessed by unauthorized persons, and SanDisk disclaims any warranties to that effect to the fullest extent permitted by law. This document and related material is for information use only and is subject to change without prior notice. SanDisk Corporation assumes no responsibility for any errors that may appear in this document or related material, nor for any damages or claims resulting from the furnishing, performance or use of this document or related material. SanDisk Corporation explicitly disclaims any express and implied warranties and indemnities of any kind that may or could be associated with this document and related material, and any user of this document or related material agrees to such disclaimer as a precondition to receipt and usage hereof. EACH USER OF THIS DOCUMENT EXPRESSLY WAIVES ALL GUARANTIES AND WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND ASSOCIATED WITH THIS DOCUMENT AND/OR RELATED MATERIALS, WHETHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR INFRINGEMENT, TOGETHER WITH ANY LIABILITY OF SANDISK CORPORATION AND ITS AFFILIATES UNDER ANY CONTRACT, NEGLIGENCE, STRICT LIABILITY OR OTHER LEGAL OR EQUITABLE THEORY FOR LOSS OF USE, REVENUE, OR PROFIT OR OTHER INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, INDIRECT, SPECIAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION PHYSICAL INJURY OR DEATH, PROPERTY DAMAGE, LOST DATA, OR COSTS OF PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS, TECHNOLOGY OR SERVICES. No part of this document may be reproduced, transmitted, transcribed, stored in a retrievable manner or translated into any language or computer language, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, magnetic, optical, chemical, manual or otherwise, without the prior written consent of an officer of SanDisk Corporation. All parts of the SanDisk documentation are protected by copyright law and all rights are reserved SanDisk Corporation. All rights reserved. SanDisk is a trademark of SanDisk Corporation, registered in the United States and other countries. Optimus is a trademark of SanDisk Enterprise IP LLC. Other brand names mentioned herein are for identification purposes only and may be the trademarks of their holder(s). Flash_Technology_in_the_Data_Center

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