Why You Should Shift to Flash Storage Now

October 19, 2015 • Blog Post • By Tim Beyers, HPE Matter Staff Writer


  • The influx of data today creates storage issues, leaving many enterprises struggling to consolidate their fragmented legacy storage infrastructure
  • Milan Shetti, vice president and chief technology officer for storage at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, discusses the opportunity for all-flash arrays

Milan Shetti, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Storage CTO, on the future of storage

Data is at the heart of virtually every consumer and business interaction, offering a competitive advantage to enterprises that can quickly access and act on the insights it provides. This influx of data creates storage issues, leaving many enterprises struggling to consolidate their fragmented legacy storage infrastructure. The need to optimize the old while supporting the new is leading to wider adoption of all-flash arrays, which provide faster storage and higher performance. Weve also seen breakthrough technologies, including new forms of non-volatile memory (NVM) and converged and hyper-converged form factors that combine storage, computing and networking in a single box.

Milan Shetti, vice president and chief technology officer for storage at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) spoke to HPE Matter about the data storage opportunity today, where we've come and where we're headed.

How has the data storage industry changed over the past five years?

In 2010 flash was only just emerging as an alternative to spinning disk. At HP we saw the trend and acquired 3PAR as the basis for our own line of flash-based storage. Five years later, it's HPE's fastest-growing business and was the market's fastest-growing, all-flash array in 2014.

And yet, as an industry, we can do better. All-flash arrays are responsible for just one to three percent of the data storage capacity of most enterprises. We see that changing as customers do the math and figure out that flash is not only faster - as much as 20 times faster - but also consumes less power and space. Capturing and analyzing data quickly is necessary in the Idea Economy. Nothing, yet, does that better than flash.

What other forces make it such an exciting time for the data storage industry?

Flash prices are coming down. As an industry, that allows us to do more creative things with solid-state drives and flash arrays. Not only can we reduce the physical footprint by 90 percent, but we can also integrate flash into different form factors such as converged and hyper-converged systems. Over time, we expect to be able to fit new forms of NVM in systems that grow smaller and more powerful and cost-effective by the day. Imagine startups in Mumbai getting access to the same or better infrastructure as their peers in London, New York and Silicon Valley. That's happening right now.

Looking ahead, you've talked a lot about not only flash but also other forms of NVM. How do you plan to take advantage of NVM breakthroughs? Are you working on anything in particular?

Data storage approaches aren't always as forward-looking as they could or should be. We've seen dozens of startups enter the market with flash arrays built to support a specific type of media, only to be supplanted within a year by something better. Our approach with 3PAR was to engineer an extremely fast and efficient system that can handle the best storage media the industry has to offer at any point in time; it's why we are creating new partnerships with industry leaders like SanDisk.

Yet we're doing a lot of work to lower the cost of solid state storage and make it last longer since every write onto a flash drive degrades the drive. For the industry, those two problems are definitely at the heart of the next instantiation of NVM. Phase change memory and 3D NAND are two we're working on actively at HPE. Another from our labs, called memristor, intends to merge the speed benefits of RAM and the persistence of a hard drive to capture, keep and recall data faster and more efficiently.

Which of those technologies do you expect to win?

One of the reasons I love the storage industry is that it changes so quickly. You can't predict tomorrows' market leaders based on yesterday's technology. As a technologist, I'm not focused on winners and losers but on finding new ways to capture and process more data, more quickly in the face of a deluge created by billions of devices connected to the Cloud, to each other and to corporate data centers. You can't have an Idea Economy without technology to store the ideas that define it.

To learn more about how you can accelerate performance, consolidate space and reduce costs with HPE's all-flash and hybrid storage systems, CLICK HERE.