With so many data storage options available, understanding which one is the most viable solution for your agency is certainly no small task. Recent research conducted by NetApp and Force 3 shows that by 2020, the data we create and copy each year will reach 44 trillion gigabytes. The amount of data being produced today and its expected growth is nothing less than staggering and must be top of mind when choosing a solution. Then, there are the data storage options one must consider. Which makes the most sense for your agency – all-flash arrays, spinning disks, or a hybrid solution? Whatever the choice may be, IT leaders must also factor in interoperability and addresses latency concerns. When you add in the extra security precautions agencies must take with data protection, many leaders are often left wondering where to start. In our latest post we’ll break out some of the major differences between data storage solutions to help you on your journey.

Spinning Disks vs. Flash

While much of the public sector still uses disk storage, it does require floor space, making option much less viable for agencies, especially as we see more efforts like the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) come to fruition. Flash storage is the answer to reducing space requirements while increasing performance capabilities, and also provides better performance than traditional spinning disks. In fact, organizations that deploy flash technology typically see ten times the increase in performance with flash technology as opposed to disks.

When it comes to latency concerns, flash is an evergreen solution.  The technology is deployed once and may be upgraded as needed with little to no downtime, allowing agencies to size and scale as they grow. NetApp has created a non-disruptive scalable technology that allows data to be recovered automatically when components may fail, an essential element for agencies that need to be able to continue mission-critical operations.

Because flash technology provides greater scalability, speed, and agility while consuming fewer data center resources than spinning disk, it is the technology of choice for many customers transitioning to the cloud. Because the technology has changed so rapidly, there are benefits and business outcomes that are now being noticed that weren’t necessarily seen before. As an example, flash operates at lower power consumption, which provides a huge cost savings that agencies may not consider.

Hybrid Storage vs. All-Flash Arrays

Hybrid storage systems combine flash-based storage and hard disk drives that can provide high performance at a more affordable price for government agencies. “A hybrid storage platform consists of both flash and spinning disk storage,” James Hebert, a solutions architect at Force 3 said. “This allows for the best of both worlds: flash storage for workloads that need it for data caching, and spinning disks for capacity workloads. Many organizations use this approach because it’s more cost-effective, since not all of their workloads require flash performance.”

Hybrid solutions work well for agencies balancing multiple workloads that require flash and others that don’t, or if they are running applications that aren’t latency –sensitive. “An agency that opts for an all-flash array would typically need high input/output operations or consistently low latency,” Hebert said, “such as that needed when deploying VDI or online transaction processing databases.” For agencies running virtual servers (VSI’s), or desktop infrastructures (VDI), all-flash arrays make sense because of the deduplication and compression capabilities it offers.

Issues may arise when agencies deploy hybrid solutions and data is cached and inconsistent latency patterns occur. Ultra-sensitive applications may slow down or even crash depending on the size of the data and other factors.

At the end of the day, IT leadership must diligently research all viable options to ensure they are selecting the best solution for their agency. Flash technology has undoubtedly brought efficiencies, speed, and flexibility to agencies and in many cases cost savings when looking at dollars spent on operating data centers.

Interested in learning more about the data dilemma and which solution is best for your agency? Download the NetApp Force 3 white paper here.

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