You may have heard about flash storage, also known as Solid State Drive (SSD). Flash storage is known for being incredibly fast and offers increased performance, consistency, and reliability. These features make flash drives perfect for critical clinical and firm applications. There isn’t a lot of discussion about Flash being used in Healthcare IT and Financial IT, but we believe that it can be a game changer for both practices and firms.
Here are a few things that may be helpful in getting a better understanding of flash storage:
The main difference between SSD and HDD
While taditional hard drives include heads that spin to store the date, solid state drives (SSD) features a non-mechanical design – witch no spinning heads.
In the absence of spinning heads, SSD storage is proven to have greater performance, faster access to files and file transfer and an overall better user experience in terms of performance.
In terms of physical size, SSDs will always remain smaller than HDDs
As already mentioned, HDDs rely on rotating platters to store data. This means that there is a limit as to how small these drives can be made. At one point, manufacturers tried to make 1.8 inch spinning HDDs but that didn’t come to fruition. SSDs on the other hand have no such size limitations. Smartphones, MP3 players, digital cameras, memory cards for video games all use SDD for their primary storage as does the ubiquitous thumb drives that provide multiple gigabytes of storage capability. As time goes by we’re likely to see even smaller flash drives.
Flash memory is expensive, but can be cost effective
In terms of price per storage unit ($/GB), flash memory is more expensive than HDD. For the same form factor and drive capacity, the cost of a 1Terabyte, 2.5 inch drive HDD runs about $75 while a similar SSD may cost about $600.
However, new reports indicate that SSD storage may be indeed cheaper than HDD when it comes to dollars per I/O operations per second ($/IOPS). IDC Technologies reports that if SSD is integrated into a system with optimized storage technologies, storage vendors can help lower both acquisition costs and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) which can go a long way in reducing cost of flash storage. Combining a number of flash units together creates a Flash Array which dramatically increases storage capability.
The meaning of tier 0
Tier 0 is the new level of data access speed which is now capable with SSD, flash storage, technology. A Wikibon article of a couple of years ago addressed the tier concept and the need for expanding to a five tier construct with the advent of flash storage. Previously, the tiering structure included tiers 1 to 4. The idea of tiering was to move data from the fastest, most costly level, tier 1, to slower, less expensive, tier levels as the need for accessing that data decreased in order to take advantage of lower storage costs at the higher tier levels. The advent of flash storage necessitated the creation of a new higher speed storage level than was previously available. Hence the designation of tier 0.
The option for hybrid storage
As with every emerging technology, the cost-benefit effectiveness of flash storage has raised several questions. Fortunately, there is no need to go to a flash-only operation from the outset. Many vendors look at balancing $/GB and $/IOPS with automated tiering operations. At the very least, it provides the speed and reliability at a reduced cost. Some vendors are even looking at incorporating flash drives in conjunction with their HDDs as a hybrid system.
We recently announced our decision to work with Pure Storage as our flash storage vendor. Pure Storage is one of the most reputable flash storage vendors in the industry and by working with them we plan to meet our growing need for availability and reliability.