Vulnerabilities / Threats // Insider Threats
9/5/2012
12:00 PM
George Crump
George Crump
Commentary
50%
50%

Flash First: Your Next Storage Strategy?

As flash storage costs decline, its performance advantages over hard drives become even more appealing.

Many IT departments have a virtualize-first strategy. This means that anytime a new server is requested, the default reaction is to virtualize that server. A standalone physical server requires special justification. We may be heading the same way with storage, where new storage additions are flash first, and hard drives are used only for storing active data.

Cost has been the key hindrance for solid state device (SSD) adoption, but reducing that cost per effective GB is a key reason that data centers will move to a flash-first strategy. As we discuss in our recent article "SSD Can Achieve HDD Price Parity," continued advances in flash controller technology, combined with advanced flash storage system design, have made it possible for flash SSD systems to achieve price parity with enterprise disk storage systems. A key is the enablement of multi-level cell (MLC) based flash systems, which essentially combine consumer grade flash NAND with advanced controllers to deliver enterprise reliability into a system that provides enterprise redundancy.

On top of safely using MLC-based SSD to drive down price, there is almost a universal adoption of deduplication and/or compression in the flash appliance market. The combination can provide a five times or greater effective capacity, and flash has the performance capabilities to support the additional workload of flash lookup. All deduplication is not created equal though, and as we pointed out in our recent webinar "What is Breaking Deduplication," users and suppliers need to pay careful attention to make sure deduplication does not become a performance problem as their systems scale in capacity.

With cost issues being addressed so rapidly, the other reason for a flash-first strategy is that initiatives like server and desktop virtualization have made storage performance bottlenecks a near-universal problem in the data center. The random I/O that a host loaded with even a few virtual machines is significant and can easily tax hard drive-based systems. This problem will increase as the VM density per host increases with each processor upgrade. Random I/O is, of course, the flash storage trump card. Other than DRAM-based systems, nothing responds to random I/O faster than flash.

Capacity and capacity management are also less of a concern now. Certainly data continues to grow, but designing a system large enough to store all an organization's data is not that difficult. What was difficult was storing all that data and keeping storage response time acceptable. Flash resolves the performance problem, and there is a suite of tools and systems that will manage the movement of active data to a flash storage device.

Finally, thanks to the performance advantage and easier to justify price point, flash makes the storage administrator's life easier. Once everything, or almost everything, is on flash, the job of performance tuning and scaling virtual machine density becomes significantly easier. Also there are so many ways to implement and leverage flash that you don't have to wait for your storage refresh budget to come through. Flash can be added via a standalone appliance, in the server host, or as a network cache to solve specific performance problems right away.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-4793
Published: 2014-12-27
The update function in umbraco.webservices/templates/templateService.cs in the TemplateService component in Umbraco CMS before 6.0.4 does not require authentication, which allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary ASP.NET code via a crafted SOAP request.

CVE-2013-5958
Published: 2014-12-27
The Security component in Symfony 2.0.x before 2.0.25, 2.1.x before 2.1.13, 2.2.x before 2.2.9, and 2.3.x before 2.3.6 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (CPU consumption) via a long password that triggers an expensive hash computation, as demonstrated by a PBKDF2 computation, a si...

CVE-2013-6041
Published: 2014-12-27
index.php in Softaculous Webuzo before 2.1.4 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands via shell metacharacters in a SOFTCookies sid cookie within a login action.

CVE-2013-6043
Published: 2014-12-27
The login function in Softaculous Webuzo before 2.1.4 provides different error messages for invalid authentication attempts depending on whether the user account exists, which allows remote attackers to enumerate usernames via a series of requests.

CVE-2013-6227
Published: 2014-12-27
Unrestricted file upload vulnerability in plugins/editor.zoho/agent/save_zoho.php in the Zoho plugin in Pydio (formerly AjaXplorer) before 5.0.4 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code by uploading an executable file, and then accessing this file at a location specified by the format param...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join us Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to hear what employers are really looking for in a chief information security officer -- it may not be what you think.