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Are All-Flash Arrays Really Worth the Price?

Enterprises will need all-flash arrays if they require real-time access to their data because it is so fast, however it isn’t all roses. While the price of flash drives is decreasing, companies wishing to deploy all-flash arrays will need to consider a variety of variables that will impact current and future budgets both during and after the upgrade.

Failure rates

Solid-state drives have a specific amount of writes before they fail, unlike traditional spinning hard drives which have mechanical parts that eventually wear down or spontaneously break. The IT team can theoretically predict when the flash arrays will break down and plan for replacement purchases on a schedule. However, this means that costs need to be built into budgets and ongoing costs to maintain server storage mustn’t be discounted.

Further, the upfront cost of all-flash arrays is always going to be much higher on account of the demand for the product, something all IT teams will need to consider. The initial cost for an all-flash array can be staggering. Some can expect to pay $200,000 or more, which excludes mid-market companies that don’t have the existing capital to invest in such infrastructure.

Many flash drive manufacturers offer multi-year replacement warranties and longevity can be improved with software that attempts to find the less “written” area of the drive to place data, as opposed to just placing it in the next available spot.

Space issue

Most companies build all-flash arrays for the massive performance lift compared to hybrid or traditional arrays. However, those configurations will sacrifice space for such benefits. With value of data on the rise, it isn’t prudent to let data go for space considerations because a company might not know it’s value until it’s been properly analysed.

While deduplication and compression are two possible solutions to this space issue, stretching the capacity of SSDs won’t ever touch the storage of HDDs and magnetic tape. The key issue over all-flash arrays is do CIOs and enterprise businesses really need the amazing horsepower of all-flash arrays. The vast majority of the market need quality performance and a lot of storage.

Flash arrays might have a much better cost per input/output operations per second (IOPS), however traditional configures obviously have a superior cost per gigabyte. Hybrid solutions, or a mix between HDDs and SSDs, obviously offer the best between both worlds. While the temptation to “future-proof” your storage array with the incredible power of all-flash arrays, it’s important to consider the actual needs of the business and that a lot of that performance will go to waste for decades before it can actually be utilised.


 

The initial cost to upgrade to all-flash arrays is large, and when combined with the on-going cost of failure replacements, it might not be feasible to all but the most cash-rich companies. The excessive performance of all-flash arrays also might not be relevant to companies for at least another decade.