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Modernizing Data Infrastructure with Flash

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By Khalid Wani, Senior Director – Sales, India, Western Digital

What storage media comes to mind when you think data backup? Hard drives. Absolutely, and especially with the expansion of hard drive capacities today, a 3.5-inch hard drive comes loaded with massive capacity. As a result, hard disk drives (HDDs) have become the go-to choice as a data backup solution. However, enterprises are also using flash for backup and are loving it. Flash storage (especially NVMe™ flash) has risen to popularity for fast restores. In wake of a cyberattack, power outage, or any other disruption, it is crucial to be back online quickly, and in such use cases flash storage can become indispensable. Enterprises are using a mix of flash and HDD for hot and cold storage requirements, respectively.

We are creating an unimaginable amount of data today; according to projections1, global data creation is expected to grow to more than 180 zettabytes (ZB) by 2025. One zettabyte is equal to a trillion gigabytes. Around 79.4ZB2 of data created will just be by connected IoT devices alone. Data has huge potential and can unlock untapped opportunities, however, to do that an organization should be able to harness its potential by capturing, preserving, and processing it.

Enterprises are using flash for the backup of high-performance application requirements. With the growing challenges, and opportunities, of data, here’s how organizations can modernize their data protection environment with flash and cloud.

Mission Critical Demands it
Applications that are essential for business continuity and those that must function uninterrupted for the success of an operation are called business-critical or mission-critical applications. If a mission-critical application fails or is interrupted even for a negligibly short time, it could be a disaster. Failure of a mission-critical application could lead to financial loss, as well as loss of productivity and even customers. These applications need a failover backup system that offers reliability and 100 percent uptime, because if a mission-critical resource suffers downtime, even briefly, it can cause massive disruption; think banking system or remote healthcare use cases.

Therefore, a flash-based backup system becomes critical in these situations or use cases; it has been steadily making in-roads into the enterprise storage solution.

AI and ML Need it
Data is becoming a core differentiator for businesses, and they are increasingly leveraging it to accelerate competitiveness and revenue through better and more informed decision-making. As a result, more and more businesses, big and small alike, are using AI and ML to enhance competence across various functions. AI and ML applications rely on large volumes of data to function and learn. These applications need a massive amount of data for effectiveness and accuracy. What’s more, the data must be processed in real-time and stored for later use for ML and deep learning (DL). Storage can become the bottleneck for the effective usage of AI and ML applications. This can, however, be mitigated by using the right storage, a mix of flash and hard drives — flash-based for ingest and real-time processing, and hard disk for big data storage and scalability.

Is It Expensive?
Some organizations may still be debating if flash is too expensive to be wasted on data protection. In the past that may have been true, but the price of flash has come down. Also, technologies such as inline deduplication and compression are being used to minimize the flash capacity needed. As a result, organizations can greatly reduce TCO, making flash an affordable and powerful data protection/fast restore tool for the most critical workloads that require aggressive recovery time objective (RTO).

The Future
The world is becoming more data centric. Organizations must rethink their data strategy and explore the value and benefits of flash and HDD, as these are playing a transformative role in shaping data infrastructure and architecture. While flash offers extreme performance, HDD-based storage is a relatively cost-effective backup and archive solution that delivers extreme high-capacity. It’s what powers at-scale cloud providers and many organizations are leveraging these efficiencies by adopting it in their on-premises data center. The right strategy will be a right mix of flash and disk-based storage solutions depending on the requirements.

Now is the time to harness the potential of data to explore what’s next!

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