Hear what the experts at Violin have to say about a variety of topics on all things Flash.

Disk is Dead. Bargaining the Fact Away: Maybe I Can Use a Hybrid Array as a Solution

by on May 26, 2015

Disk is dead.

Let me repeat: Disk is dead. The best years of disk drive technology are in the past, the distant past. Not Negotiable. No Faustian bargain will bring it back to life. Even if you’re “A Friend of the Devil”, as the Grateful Dead would say.

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It’s time to let it go and visualize the datacenter where primary storage is free of spinning rust. It’s time to move beyond racks and racks of short-stroked hard drives chugging up electricity and producing excess heat. It’s time to stop compromising. It’s time to reimagine the data center as an agile competitive advantage.

Unfortunately, not everyone is ready yet to let disk go.

In the bargaining phase of grief, some vendors will go to extraordinary lengths to prolong the life of disks in the data center. This is neither rational nor economical. The best thing to do is to move on and embrace the flash revolution as have many Violin Memory customers, including two global leaders in music: Tradition-ICAP and Australasian Performing Rights Association.

So why are companies bargaining away their future? It all starts with certain players promoting outdated technology:


Example 1: The Legacy Vendor

These are the stereotypical “800 pound gorillas” of the industry. These companies have been around for decades and maybe even a century. The point is these vendors have too much invested in the old disk technology. Last week, my colleague Susan Scheer Aoki used one of these vendors as an example, where a 750TB disk array cost more than $2M while producing only ~500K IOPS, with only 120TB usable.

Sadly, instead of unleashing the full potential of flash, the legacy vendor, along with many others, chose to simply cobble SSDs to an existing disk array, resulting in a slightly faster array that serves no purpose other than preserving the revenue stream. By my calculation, the makeshift system costs $550K for 20TB array with only slight improvement in latency. Extrapolating the 20TB HDD+SSD hybrid to the previous 120TB HDD example, the customer will AGAIN end up paying more than $2M. This is fantastic for the legacy vendor’s revenue stream, but offers no value to the customer.


Example 2: The Hybrid Integrator

These are often startups that have jumped on the idea of utilizing both disks and SSDs in virtualized environments, be it virtual server infrastructure (VSI) or virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). The concept is flawed since the effort uses off-the-shelf SSDs for fast time-to-market. However, lower prices for all-flash solutions have already taken away any cost advantage for hybrid arrays.

For example, with Violin Memory, you can achieve sub-$0.40 per transaction cost (at 40 IOPS per transaction).

Additionally, with both disks and SSDs interacting (vendor unique tiering and hierarchical data movement), the overall performance, especially latency, is often unpredictable, creating latency spikes that hurt virtualized environments. With Violin Memory, you get a consistent, predictable latency along with the high IOPS.

Also, hybrids often lack disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities. The end result is that these products are at best point solutions that cannot serve as primary storage in the data center.

Both of these examples have one thing in common: The SSD. By definition, SSD is a device that emulates disk behavior but uses memory (in this case, NAND flash) as the storage medium. Remember, a disk drive has one actuator arm and it can thus only perform a read or a write operation at any one time.

That’s right. The 60-year-old disk drive cannot read and write at the same time because it’s physically limited. By using SSDs, legacy and hybrid vendors have bargained away a key benefit of using flash.

Violin Memory doesn’t have any disk skeletons in our closet. We looked at what’s possible with NAND flash and innovated with our Flash Fabric Architecture™. Our product, the Flash Storage Platform™ (FSP) is a solution where we own every piece of hardware and software with no blind spots and no unknown black boxes.

Simply put, Violin’s FSP is unrestrained, uncompromised. It is flash unleashed. 100% architecture ground-up with both hardware and software that enables Violin to truly have the most genuine AFA in the market, bar none. By owning every piece of the product, Violin can easily adapt to new markets, workloads, use-cases, etc., on a very swift basis that best suits the customer needs.

Want to turn your data center into an agile competitive advantage? Don’t let a legacy or hybrid vendor bargain it away with disk.


Moving to Flash Storage from Violin is a smart, cost-effective play that will simplify your storage, simplify your data center and simplify your business. Learn more by visiting us at www.violin-memory.com/diskisdead, download a helpful thought leadership piece and enter to win tickets to see the Grateful Dead.

Disk is Dead Promotion

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Introducing Amy Love, Violin Memory’s New Chief Marketing Officer

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by on April 22, 2015

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