Nov 24 2014
Data Center

Companies Save Money and Improve Security with Flash Storage

While some companies opt for a hybrid approach, IT managers place the most important apps on flash today.

Royal Caribbean Cruises needs to deliver timely data 24/7 to its staff of 10,000 shoreside and nearly 60,000 shipboard employees worldwide.

“Our goal is to provide the best system availability and performance to meet the needs of the ever-growing demand for information,” says Jeanine Graham-Bellamy, director of technology for Royal Caribbean International in Miami.

Royal Caribbean deployed the IBM Flash System 820 over the past few years to replace an obsolete storage system that wasn’t meeting the IT department’s service-level agreements, Graham-Bellamy says. The travel company uses flash systems to run high-performance databases.

Graham-Bellamy says the IBM 820 delivers many benefits. It now takes only 30 minutes to process reports compared with nearly two hours using the old system. The flash system also has saved space, allowing Royal Caribbean to reduce its rack space from 82U to just 2U.

“A much more significant benefit was the power utilization reduction,” says Graham-Bellamy, who adds that the company saves more than $8,700 in power per storage system, per year. “This may not seem like much of a savings, but as we add flash systems, these savings continue to multiply and will eventually become very significant,” she says. “We have currently deployed 10 IBM Flash Systems, which implies a total power savings of close to $90,000 per year.”

Eric Burgener, research director for IDC’s storage practice, says that while hybrid arrays remain popular with many organizations, ultimately all-flash units will replace the hybrid products currently offered by manufacturers. Recent IDC research shows that 18 percent of organizations already use all-flash arrays, while 23 percent use hybrid arrays. Another 37 percent use existing spinning disks with flash drives added as cache.

“People move slowly when mission-critical applications are at stake. Plus, there’s a comfort level with spinning disks,” says Burgener. “Overall, we expect the transition to all-flash for primary storage environments to take five to seven years.”


The percentage of IT managers who currently use flash in their external storage environment

SOURCE: IDC, “Storage Purchasing Intentions Survey,” July 2014

Extra Safeguards

Cleveland-based NCS also recently deployed flash storage, says Michael Frank, manager of the credit services company. “Our old arrays were end-of-life, and they could not do VDI [virtual desktop infrastructure] on 20 to 30 machines at a time, which was one of our performance requirements,” he says.

Frank selected the Fusion-io ioControl Hybrid Storage System because it offers an affordable and balanced approach. The Fusion-io hybrid system enables NCS to run Citrix XenDesktop VDI and Oracle MySQL database queries primarily in flash, and place non-mission-critical applications on spinning disks.

“If we need to run a high-performance application, like backing up virtual machines, we can run it for a few hours on flash then offload it back onto spinning disk,” Frank says.

The hybrid flash system gave NCS the processing power and storage capacity to launch LienFinder, a national archive of commercial construction project data. “Our customers can now search LienFinder to check on the credit worthiness of their customers,” Frank says. “Since we’re adding more than 2,500 documents a day, being able to store the images on disk is a big plus.”


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