All-flash storage array specialist Kaminario, which just received a fresh capital infusion of $53 million, is adding fuel to the primary storage debate. At issue is the degree to which flash storage arrays will replace magnetic storage systems for primary storage.
No one seems to disagree that magnetic drives will be used for secondary storage for years to come, but when it comes to primary storage, magnetic storage devices are already obsolete, Kaminario CEO Dani Golan said.
While there is a lot debate about the relative price of flash and magnetic storage, Golan said there are two issues that many IT folks in the industry fail to take into account when it comes to flash storage. First, it is quite possible to build resilient all-flash arrays using consumer-grade solid-state drives (SSDs.).
The issue is to make sure the firmware in the storage array is capable of coping with the higher failure rate of these drives versus more expensive SSDs. Once you get past that issue, the price of flash storage becomes quite competitive with magnetic storage, Golan said.
The next big issue is the fact that flash memory provides higher levels of consistent I/O performance, he said. That means there’s no longer a need to continually try and optimize the performance of magnetic disk drives to wring the maximum amount of I/O performance out of the primary storage system, Golan said.
Finally, Golan noted that all-flash arrays can not only scale out, they take up much less space in the data center and consume much less energy.
Of course, there’s still some debate as to where that flash memory should go. At the moment, the majority of it seems to be directly attached to servers. But Golan contends that as IT organizations look to make all-flash memory available to a large number of applications, they will lean more toward buying all-flash arrays.
Kaminario isn’t the only provider of all-flash arrays with similar ambitions. The only real question now is whether all-flash arrays will remain the niche market it has been in 2014, or if we’re about to see a very different market for primary storage devices that involves a lot fewer magnetic disk drives in 2015.
Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.