Politics, Religion, and Flash Storage

In 1992, Bill Clinton’s campaign strategist James Carville coined the phrase “it’s the economy, stupid!” It was originally intended for an internal audience, but it became a key campaign slogan. Carville’s point was that the economy was the only issue that mattered at that time, not the other polarizing debates.


When it comes to storage today, there are debates around what’s best for the virtualized datacenter. The demands from rampant virtualization rendered legacy storage technologies obsolete. The “I/O blender” problem is well documented. Flash storage emerged as a component-level answer to the ensuing IOPs problem. While the legacy vendors were scrambling to retrofit aging platforms with flash, startup companies emerged with new storage architectures centered around flash. Chief among these are all-flash and hybrid storage array architectures.

There is a ton of noise around whether all-flash or hybrid is the right storage solution. Of course, the answer will depend on which vendor you ask. There are several vendors that sell only all-flash arrays and there are others who sell only hybrid arrays. Vendors’ claims supporting their pet architectures range from hard-to-believe to just-plain-ridiculous. Through the magic of slick marketing and questionable math, some of them argue that flash is cheaper and denser than hard drives, and low-end consumer-grade flash is more resilient than enterprise-class flash.

What’s lost in the noise is the application. Application workloads should determine the right storage. After all, storage in the datacenter exists to run applications. If you are a financial firm running high frequency trading applications where every microsecond latency is worth millions of dollars, buy the fastest all-flash array. If the storage is for data archival where the data will rarely be accessed, get the most inexpensive and reliable storage. In a datacenter, there are some applications that warrant all-flash storage and several that run effectively and economically on hybrid storage.

At Tegile, we have no religion around all-flash or hybrid. We do both. A single feature-rich software runs on both product lines. If you choose to, you can run all-flash workloads and hybrid workloads on the same array using dedicated storage pools and controllers. Our architecture makes the best use of flash. Flash is evolving, getting denser and faster. Our storage arrays are moving in lock-step. High density all-flash arrays from us with 48TB in 2U are here. So are the next generation of hybrid arrays. Our architecture is built to leverage tomorrow’s technologies, not just today’s flash and hard drives. For more on this, see Chris Mellor’s article in The Register from March, and the announcement of our 3rd generation hybrid and all-flash arrays this week.

It’s time to rise above the noise. It’s not about all-flash or hybrid storage. To borrow and re-purpose a phrase from James Carville, “it’s the application, stupid!”

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