Advice for CIOs: Staying Ahead in the Global Drive for All-Flash Storage


    May 11, 2023

    In 2014, Gartner released the very first Magic Quadrant for all-flash arrays, reporting that all-flash storage accounts for over 50% of the primary storage market (2021Q4). Now the evolving all-flash storage technologies are driving a larger all-flash storage market.

    Trend analysis

    • Upgraded SSD tech promotes all-flash storage to diverse industries

    The evolution of SSD technologies has enabled all-flash storage to meet a wider range of service scenarios in various industries.

    NVMe SSDs adopt the NVMe standard to offer twice the performance of traditional SAS SSDs. Equally, NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF) is an enhanced protocol employed by SSDs to provide sub-ms latency for storage networks. Enabling improved performance with every generation, all-flash storage is perfect for real-time ultra-low latency scenarios such as transaction systems.

    The global wear-leveling technology uses algorithms to evenly write data to cells of all SSDs in the storage system, greatly extending the SSD service life and enabling enterprises to use all-flash storage in core service scenarios.

    Figure 1: Architecture and performance comparison between traditional and NVMe storage
    Source: Huawei

    Similarly, data reduction technology is used to reduce data volumes without compromising the data, thereby reducing the number of disks and devices required in a storage environment. Today’s data reduction ratios are as high as 4:1 or 5:1, helping slash the purchase costs of all-flash storage and allowing all-flash storage to enter more non-core service deployments.

    These technologies are a catalyst for all-flash storage to be perfectly deployed in enterprises’ core transaction and production systems, and can also be used in decision-making, operational support, and backup systems.

    • Inexpensive all-flash: Quad-level cells (QLCs) and extra cell layers in 3D NAND

    NAND cells are the core component of enterprise-level SSDs, and determine the cost of SSDs. Most mainstream vendors now adopt NAND cells with 176 layers, and have released the 200-layer (nearly double that of 2018) design roadmap.

    For example, the Micron roadmap states the cell layers in a 3D NAND device will exceed 200, 300, and even 400, which will in turn slash the price of every TB of SSDs.

    In addition to prioritizing stacking layers, triple-level cells (TLCs) are becoming a mainstream choice for enterprise-level SSDs, which has given rise to QLC SSDs. One example is the PLC technology released by Toshiba at the Flash Memory Summit 2019. With this tech, every cell of PLC stores five electrons, making it a cheaper option than TLC/QLC but with a shorter cell life. This trend of optimized enterprise-level PLC SSDs will help further reduce the purchase costs of flash storage.

    Optimized enterprise-level PLC SSDs will help further reduce the purchase costs of flash storage.

    A combination of many stacking layers with TLC/QLC/PLC can significantly reduce the price of a single SSD. IDC predicts that by 2025, the cost per unit of SSD capacity will be lower than 10K RPM HDDs and higher than large capacity HDDs used for cold data storage.

    Figure 2: SSD price trend per unit capacity predicted by IDC

    Breakthroughs in cell technology and PCIe 5.0 are improving the capacity of SSDs, with many enterprises now adopting 15.36 TB SSDs or even 31 TB SSDs. Thanks to lower procurement costs, large-capacity SSDs will help develop storage environments in data centers.

    • Worldwide drive for all-flash storage

    The ratio of all-flash storage in developed countries is on average over 45%, including 56.3% in the US, 54.7% in Australia, 54.3% in Netherlands, and 50% in Sweden.

    But now, countries that traditionally have a low all-flash usage ratio are adopting it more. In 2021, the annual growth rate of the all-flash storage market in Indonesia reached 54%, while in Poland, China, and Mexico, it reached 34%, 24%, and 14%, respectively. This trend is expected to continue in the future.

    What we suggest

    • Plan all-flash storage tailored to enterprise current and future data volumes and requirements

    Digital transformation is the cause of huge data growth and service pressure. When making their storage construction plans, enterprises should evaluate the current and future IT system requirements in advance. Then, they can ensure a premium experience and strategically approach the new round of all-flash storage competition among vendors.

    All-flash storage is an excellent choice for enterprises’ technical teams to improve performance. By working with storage providers to evaluate the future data volumes and service pressure trends, enterprises can formulate all-flash storage strategies, and analyze benefits and O&M cost changes after the strategies are implemented.

    • Seize the opportunity to replace legacy storage with all-flash models

    HDDs are common in many enterprise storage environments, but most are approaching the end of the warranty period. Enterprises that are undergoing digital transformation urgently need better, more performant storage devices.

    This is an excellent opportunity for storage enterprises to promote all-flash storage.

    The zero-interruption service migration is a key selling point of mainstream vendors, and a must-have for enterprises.

    • All-flash storage: excellent performance, rock-solid reliability, and large capacity for much lower CAPEX and OPEX

    Data is the core of digital transformation. Data center consolidation helps gather data scattered on many devices to minimal devices. This reduces purchase, maintenance, management, and power consumption costs, and facilitates data value mining and enables service growth.

    All-flash storage systems that run on large-capacity SSDs and dedupe and compression technologies are the equivalent of 5 to 10 HDD storage systems. This huge benefit makes it an obvious choice to migrate services from several HDD storage solutions to a single all-flash storage, and in turn supercharge the efficiency of data centers.

    Learn more about Huawei’s Data Storage solutions.

    Disclaimer: Any views and/or opinions expressed in this post by individual authors or contributors are their personal views and/or opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of Huawei Technologies.


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