The Future of Flash Storage

By Evan Unrue, Chief Technologist, IoT, Analytics & Cognitive EMEA 

Evan Unrue

Evan Unrue, Chief Technologist, IoT, Analytics & Cognitive EMEA, Technology Solutions, now part of Tech Data.

This is a big topic, but in essence there are a few areas where we will see flash technology advances, in the immediate to mid-term, and I would categorise this into a few areas: Cost, Capacity, Connectivity, Performance and Acceptance.

With new innovations in the silicon (with technologies such as Triple Level Cell and 3D NAND Flash), achievable capacities will be increasing and associated cost are going to be driven down further to the point where it is widely believed that 2017 will be the year where price parity is achieved on cost per gigabyte with SSD, depending on the type of SSD.

When we consider the variety of SSD types in the market from high performance SSD PCI-E cards to less performing higher capacity SSD drives, expect to see a tiered approach to Flash storage get adopted in the all flash datacentre. Flash is not one size fits all, but we are not limited to one size.

Companies that adopt flash for tactical solutions to performance hungry applications will find that the headroom in their systems allows them to move from the focussed approach to flash and they will expand its footprint into general workloads over time and not necessarily a drawn out period of time. When the gains of flash are staring a company in the face, they will move quickly.

It is also important to note, that when discussing these gains, we are not just relating this to large enterprise. The small to medium business end will no longer see the barriers to entry on cost. Even today, this barrier is getting smaller and smaller.

We have also seen that Flash has been inhibited by aging protocols and computer architecture, and there is a visible evolutionary shift underway.

The next phase is starting to happen now, which is replacing traditional storage protocols with NVMe on the network. This allows an organisation to get the full force of SSD performance in a shared storage environment over a fabric delivered over technology we already know such as a fibre channel network. This is unlocking SSD performance in a way that will change the way companies deal with storage at scale forever, especially in the world of big data and the mass of data needing to be analysed in real time, driven by technologies such as IoT or Financial Trading Systems.

As exciting as NVMe technology is, it is really a necessity to ensure we’re not curtailing the innovation of flash technologies.

The revolutionary piece, is what’s next with the SSD drive itself. As SSD gets faster, the line between what is memory and what is disk gets thinner, to the point where all we are left with is storage persistence as the key difference. Enter Intel and Micron, who between them over the last 10 years have been developing 3D Xpoint technology, now packaged as Intel Optane, changing the way that bits of data or stored with SSD completely and in essence SSD becomes RAM with persistence of data or non-volatile memory (exactly as the term NVM in NVMe implies).

With vastly improved storage capacity and early quotes stating it will be 1000x faster than NAND Flash and 1000x more reliable, but Gen 1 quoted at being 5x faster and 3x the reliability (still very impressive), the future is moving to a computing architecture where there may not a requirement to have a separation of storage and memory which will advance our ability to compute order of magnitudes greater than even imaginable today.

The implications of this in the finance, life sciences, the datacentre, and in our homes represent at true milestone in what many refer to as the latest industrial revolution through digital transformation.

The bottom line is Flash is here. It is not a flash in the pan technology it’s getting bigger and will be the standard for enterprise storage.

To read more, visit our IBM storage hub, and download our Flash and Beyond guide.

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This post was written by on April 26, 2017

Flavours of Flash Storage

By Anthony Greenhalgh, Business Group Director – EMEA Strategic Suppliers, Technology Solutions, now part of Tech Data.


Anthony Greenhalgh, Business Group Director – EMEA Strategic Suppliers, Technology Solutions, now part of Tech Data.

Anthony Greenhalgh, Business Group Director – EMEA Strategic Suppliers, Technology Solutions, now part of Tech Data.

Flash was once most commonly associated with consumer grade memory and found in products such as smartphones and digital cameras. Today, flash storage solutions offer levels of reliability and availability at a price that organisations of all sizes can afford. So what can you do to get started with flash storage? Here are five top tips for getting started. And for those of you who are already involved, find out how to maximise your revenue potential. Remember, it’s not just about performance but also about reducing space and running costs within data centres.


1.     Flash storage has multiple uses

Flash delivers the high performance that many applications and architectures now demand. This makes it the right technology to deliver exceptional functionality in the worlds of finance and life sciences, for example. It’s also valid for all businesses looking for speed and savings. The reality is that most companies need a mix of traditional disk and flash drives.


2.     Forget about the price tag

Cost was once a major barrier to the adoption of flash solutions. However, this is no longer the case. Per gigabyte, the cost of flash storage has tumbled in recent years. This, coupled with the reliability and total cost of ownership (TCO) benefits, means that flash based storage is becoming affordable for everyone from large organisations to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).


3.     Speed and space

It’s important to know what’s most valued by the customer. The answer is probably both capacity and speed. Traditional storage is priced on capacity, which means potentially paying a premium for faster disks. The more you want to store, the more you pay. However, flash is targeted at speeding up applications and removing the performance bottleneck from storage. The secret is to get the balance right with a well-priced hybrid solution, while selling flash for its performance characteristics rather than its physical capacity.


4.     Set up a storage seed box

Seeing is believing. There is nothing quite like a proof-of-concept exercise, where end users are able to experience the benefits of flash. Installing a storage seed box to safely download and upload files at very high speeds is the best way to set up a demo. Technology Solutions helps partners to upskill to reap financial rewards and strengthen customer loyalty. So talk to us about the different flavours of flash.

Flash-based storage will not entirely replace spinning disks in the near future, however, demand is growing and the technology has gained substantial market adoption due to its clear performance and viable cost benefits. Channel partners have an opportunity to support their customers through this transition. Flash presents an exciting revenue generating opportunity, but only for those willing to make a change and give it a try.


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This post was written by on March 15, 2017

Four tips for partners looking to drive innovation in the cloud

Cloud migration has the tendency to cause a bit of a headache for partners. It creates new skill demands which require some heavy investment, such as the costs of personnel training or hiring new talent to handle the technical

Michael Fischermanns, vice president cloud solutions at Avnet Technology Solutions EMEA

Michael Fischermanns, vice president cloud solutions at Avnet Technology Solutions EMEA

migration, which for smaller partners just doesn’t seem worthwhile. Yet, IDC has predicted that worldwide spending on IT infrastructure for cloud environments will grow by 12.5% year on year, reaching $57.8billion in 2020 – so this is an area partners need to address sooner rather than later. And distributors can play a large role in supporting that transition.

Here are four tips for partners looking to make the leap:

Flexible billing options:

The pay-as-you-go promise of IT services accessed via the cloud has helped bolster the mainstream adoption of cloud technology among businesses globally. We’ve entered an era where end-user organisations now seek the same flexibility in business as they do in their personal life. They don’t necessarily want to pay for what they’re not using, and this pay-as-you-go mentality is bringing both subscription and consumption billing models to the fore.

Operational expenditure verses capital expenditure is a big driver for cloud migration, as finance teams look to move away from the expensive process of buying and managing hardware. Partners can consider introducing various billing options for software and services such as consumption-based models for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) alongside subscription models for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). They can also look to distributors to help create and manage a unique custom solution for customers that combines consumption and subscription models.

Multi-vendor solutions:

Vendors are the main drivers of growth in the cloud market. With so many cloud offerings from a multitude of vendors, it’s possible to integrate these offerings into a package that combines services and solutions from multiple sources and create a complete cloud solution for customers. Bespoke cloud solutions also enable partners to expand their capabilities and diversify their offering to attract new customers in areas where they might not have been able to before. Combine this with consolidated billing and suddenly you’re in a position to offer customers a truly unique proposition. Distributors are in a position here to act as matchmakers who can help partners deliver an end-to-end cloud solution without the headache caused by multiple vendors.

Leverage the skills pool:

It’s time for partners to stop using the technical skills shortage as an excuse not to be the trusted advisor for their customers. Organisations will move to the cloud regardless of where they get their support from, and if the partners won’t help with the migration effort, they risk losing their customer to a competitor. This is another area where distributors can help – with a broad base of partners, many distributors have invested in the technical skills to help plan, execute and manage cloud migration projects. Partners can take advantage of the distributor’s skills pool to make their own customer’s cloud migration project a success.

White label solutions:

Offering a unique solution can be a key differentiator for partners in the market.  Again, distributors like Avnet are able to provide access to a white-label portal of cloud products and services, to help partners make cloud solutions their own. A white-label solution allows partners to have an immediate cloud presence with their own brand, look and feel – an online store which is unique to them and specific to their customers. White-label options, supported by architect skills through to managed solutions, also allow partners to add value to the cloud market in a cost-effective and efficient way, getting innovative solutions to market quickly.

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This post was written by on June 28, 2016

FlexPod at the Avnet Solution Centre in Tongeren, Belgium

In a previous blog post, on our Avnet Advantage blog, there is the opportunity to watch a complete FlexPod solution be built in 3 minutes at the Avnet Global Solution Centre located in Chandler, Arizona.

Now you can take a deeper dive into the planning and construction of the FlexPod at the Avnet Solution Centre in Tongeren, Belgium. One of the few places in Europe where complete FlexPod solutions can be built and validated.

Watch the video below to take a tour of the centre, and see the FlexPod process.

FlexPod Assembly in EMEA

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This post was written by on March 19, 2015