Flash vs Hybrid is the Wrong Question

I recently came across an article that posed the question: Flash vs Hybrid, which will win?  I think this is the wrong question to ask.  Enterprise data storage has seen a massive transformational wave in the last 10 years, driven mainly by Flash storage technology.  When flash started to be used in the data center it was in two ways:

  1. a replacement for disks or
  2. augmenting disk-based systems.

In the last decade we have seen both paths mature with the incumbent vendors first adopting the augmentation approach, often called Hybrid, and a number of startups offering “all flash” based systems and a few starting with hybrid and moving to “all flash”.  This large proliferation in choice creates this question: flash vs hybrid.  In my opinion if your vendors are asking you to pick one you need new vendors.

Fundamentally flash and spinning disks (call them HDDs) do the same thing, they store data for later access. When we look how they accomplish this task and how much they cost we see major differences. To summarize, flash is really fast but expensive per GB and HDDs are pretty slow but very affordable per GB.  Sounds like complimentary technology to me.

So why does a choice need to be made between them?  This comes down to the way traditional storage works.  Most systems are built to be “scale up” arrays.  The implication is that once the scale is met it’s time for another one.  Having one array is easy to work, having lots of arrays is a different story.  This problem is defined using the term “silo”.  Each unit is a separate entity that is treated apart from all the others.  So you need to pick a flash silo or a hybrid silo.  There is a better way.

Enter the Datera Elastic Data Fabric.  Datera is built using “scale out” technology.  This means the Datera system is a collection of independent nodes.  With scale out systems you can grow very large before you need another one.  This allows operators to break down the silos.  But how does this help with Flash vs Hybrid?  Well the Datera EDF can be built both “all flash nodes” (AFN’s) or hybrid nodes (HFN).  So in a single system you can deploy each to meet the needs.

Because Datera’s innovation technology workloads can be placed on AFN’s or HFN’s, both types, and even moved between them without disruption.  Need your data on flash on Tuesday’s?  No problem, moving between the two types is as easy as a few clicks.

When making a sandwich you don’t pick Peanut Butter or Jelly, you put them together.  With Datera it’s like making a Peanut Butter sandwich, just pick how much flash and how much hybrid.  Your users will thank you.