An Evaluation Guide for IT Teams

As an IT professional dealing with storage, you will already have a good idea of how the demands of an application and its associated data will shape the type of storage required. For instance, cold data might fit well on cloud storage, an archive platform or tape. Similarly, disk arrays remain a strong option for secondary storage or even for primary applications where capacity and cost matter more than performance.

The game-changer though is solid-state storage such as Flash, thanks to its high performance and its non-mechanical nature. The latter also brings a range of other benefits including lower power consumption, smaller size and greater density, and of course it produces no noise or vibration. Expensive at first, it was initially added to disk arrays as a performance-enhancing layer to create hybrid arrays, an approach that is still cost-effective today in many scenarios. Technology evolution and cost reductions then brought us the enterprise-grade All-Flash Arrays (AFAs) that have become the “new normal” for high-performance primary storage.

Now the rapid maturation of the NVMe (Non Volatile Memory Express) storage standard means that everything is changing again. Fortunately though, if you’re familiar with the concept of tiering from the disk world then it’s similar – except that the type of disk involved no longer matters. Instead, the key performance differentiator is what type of memory is used and how it is implemented.

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