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Flash Begets Flash

Enterprise Strategy Group Research Reveals Huge Growth Potential for Solid-State as EMEA IT Professionals Remain Skeptical about Necessity

Solid-state storage continues to be adopted across IT, delivering not only performance benefits, but also other key data centre benefits such as reliability and longevity. In terms of the overall storage environment, however, flash still has room to grow, as storage decision makers currently perceive that solid-state-level performance is only required by a subset of their workloads. These findings are amongst the results of a recent survey by the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), an integrated IT research, analyst, strategy, and validation firm. 

The ESG report surveyed over 410 EMEA IT professionals responsible for evaluating, purchasing and managing data in medium-sized companies and large enterprises about their storage challenges. As part of the survey, respondents were asked about their organisations’ usage of solid-state storage, and the results reveal that nearly half (45%) are leveraging the technology in some form today – with Italy at the top of the range with 57% and Russia at the bottom with 35%. 

With solid-state storage deployment quickly approaching the majority of users, the next question to address is the percentage of workloads that solid-state can, or should, serve across the data centre. ESG asked respondents at organisations currently using solid-state, as well as those considering the technology, to estimate the amount of total storage capacity that will be comprised of solid-state media 36 months from now. Over a third (38%) of current and potential users expect this number to be between 21 and 30%. That said, 79% of current and potential users believe that no more than 30% of their workloads and applications actually require the performance levels provided by solid-state storage.

There is, however, a significant difference in the solid-state storage outlook between current users and potential adopters. Specifically, those organisations that have already deployed solid-state resources are more likely as their non-adopter counterparts (28% versus 19%) to speculate that more than 30% of their total capacity will likely be comprised of solid-state technology in three years’ time.  In addition, organisations that already leverage solid-state were also found to be more optimistic about the technology’s applicability to a wider range of workloads. This suggests that experience with the technology increases the understanding of its capabilities and opens the door for additional use cases. 

Improved performance is by far the single most perceived advantage of solid-state storage over traditional hard disk drives. It logically follows then that almost half (49%) of current and potential users identified enhanced performance as a factor in the decision to deploy solid-state storage and 32% cited it as the most important initial adoption driver. However, improved performance is far from the only advantage that IT professionals expect to see with flash. Nearly a third of respondents identified improved reliability (32%) and longevity (31%) as an influence in their solid-state decision. Solid-state storage is typically more reliable since there are no spinning platters and actuators to cause mechanical challenges, as there are with hard disk drives.

When it comes to the benefits current users have derived from their solid-state storage implementations, it’s no surprise to find that nearly half (45%) have improved application performance. The other most commonly identified benefits include reduced power consumption (39%) and improved resource utilisation (36%). While the optimised power usage benefits can be attributed to solid-state media’s lack of moving parts and subsequent absence of heat generation, the efficient delivery of I/O performance can also have broader storage infrastructure implications by—for instance—eliminating the need for unnaturally large deployments of short-stroked disk drives. Additionally, shifting the performance bottleneck away from the storage can materially help to improve utilisation of other components along the data path, such as the servers and the networking infrastructure. 

“At a high level, solid-state storage continues to experience high degrees of adoption while delivering a myriad of technical, operational, and financial benefits. We also see that when companies start using flash storage, they are likely to want to use more of it, and for more applications, which is a good sign for any emerging technology,” said Mark Peters, practice director and senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group. 

About Enterprise Strategy Group
Enterprise Strategy Group is an IT analyst, research, validation, and strategy firm that provides market intelligence and actionable insight to the global IT community. ESG helps its clients achieve business results through a comprehensive portfolio of research and advisory services, consulting, and custom content solutions.

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