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With flash media inventories depleted and the cost of drives increasing rapidly, enterprises have been forced to pivot to meet their need for capacity and performance. Experts at StorONE have offered advice for organizations to help ensure that the shortages don’t result in mission critical issues…

Flash drive pricing has increased by 30 percent, and buyers are seeing eight-week delays so far in 2021, due in part to worldwide pandemic shutdowns of manufacturing facilities. Although limited production has resumed, current supply is quickly being stockpiled by the largest technology companies. Depleted inventories, long waits, and production challenges are likely to cause much worse and far more prolonged shortages; drive vendors expect the exceptionally high price per TB for flash to persist through next year.

“We expect the all-flash array segment to dramatically change in the near future due to shortages and price increases, and users need to be prepared for an ongoing crisis,” said Gal Naor, CEO and co-founder of StorONE. “AFAs and other enterprise flash solutions will be very costly and customers need to manage their purchasing carefully.

StorONE recommends rethinking AFA according to the following five recommendations:

Drive flexibility

Users should look for drive flexibility in systems that support all drive types (NVME, SSD, and HDD) and tier data to the proper media for its access and performance requirements. Storage arrays should be able to use different type of drives, density, and performance specs in the same pool. 

Boost utilization

Inefficiency in how data is written and distributed across individual drives leads to poor utilization, and forces buyers to overprovision. Ensure the storage array can get the maximum IOPS, throughput, and capacity from the media investment, so you pay only for the resources needed today, and can add drives as requirements grow and/or prices fall.

Don’t skimp on data protection

Don't compromise on data protection to cut costs. “It's a short-term solution at best, and if you have a heavy investment in media, you want to budget appropriately to ensure high data protection per volume,” said Naor.

Use auto tiering

Newer auto-tiering technology is even more critical when media is in short supply. Users can start small, with any capacity per tier, and increase the relevant tier when needed. Data can also be automatically tiered to less expensive resources like HDD or cloud as it ages. “With such a high price per terabyte, there’s no way to justify purchasing total capacity in advance,” said Naor. “Buy it when prices go back to normal, and in the meantime, use tiering to conserve the flash capacity you have.”

Open platforms

Choose a storage system that allows multiple protocols to access the same flash drives and is independent of any one particular hardware vendor, custom storage controller, or custom flash media designs. Buying and provisioning separate systems for different use cases is unrealistic given the high costs.

“Companies can survive the current crisis by using a storage platform that delivers optimal performance from as few SSDs as possible, rather than relying on all-flash arrays,” said Naor. “Staying open and flexible, implementing new storage management tools, and being able to use any commodity flash that’s available will help everyone weather the storm.”

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