|By Amy Bishop||
|October 26, 2013 03:00 PM EDT||
Computing is a rapidly changing industry. Gordon E. Moore was one of the first to recognize and discuss this in 1965, when he described what's now known as Moore's law: The number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. The effects of this progress are evident in the continuous increases in processing speeds, data storage capacity and the sensitivity of digital camera sensors.
For decades, computing has continued to advance, sometimes incrementally and sometimes almost exponentially. Now we're in the middle of another major shift in computing and IT: the decline of the hard disk and the rise of solid-state memory. Solid-state has been around for a while, but it's always been expensive, volatile and low capacity. That's changing, and it's changing IT as well.
If you don't understand how flash works, you're going to be left behind. That goes beyond knowing about the physical medium, too. You have to know how flash storage affects performance and whether you need a hybrid storage array or an all-flash array. How can flash change your current system? What benefits will it bring to your specific infrastructure? How will it affect your future plans? Will you ditch full workstations entirely and switch to a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)? Immerse yourself in technical specifications and increase your knowledge so you can determine what best fits your needs.
Consumer-level solid-state storage is still far more expensive per gigabyte than hard disk drives, but the nature of enterprise storage eliminates the cost advantages of individual hard disk devices. This is fantastic news for storage admins; it's hard to convince your boss that you need to pay double the price for less storage, even if it's much faster.
With enterprise flash arrays boasting advanced compression, deduplication and thin/thin provisioning coupled with parity and RAID schemes capable of rebuilding some of the most mangled data you can imagine, the cost of usable storage space becomes comparable to that of hard disk drives while retaining its speed.
Speed isn't just something on a wish list either. Your storage system can be a major bottleneck in your network, especially if you're running a VDI or have a large database. If you've ever had to deal with an I/O blender, you know how important a good solid-state storage array can be.
Solid-state storage is doing more than just changing the hardware businesses use, too; it's changing the jobs companies are creating. Instead of being a jack-of-all-trades, we'll start seeing more specialists, such as virtual environment managers and data scientists, people with very specific jobs who need tailor-made hardware and software.
If you're working with someone like that, you need to know the ins and outs of various technologies so you can make sure this employee gets exactly what he needs without overspending. If you’re one of those specialists, you need a clear idea of what products will work for you and what won't. You don't want to manage an in-house cloud network that's running on a hard disk array.
Technology changes at a breakneck pace and IT has to keep up. Sure, your old servers and storage racks might still work, but is that good enough? Your company's competitors, especially newer companies, continue to invest in new technology and, if you don't do the same, will eventually surpass you. It doesn't matter if you're selling products or offering services, having an efficient, fast infrastructure can give you an edge over others in your industry. All it takes is a few extra seconds to load a product page and a customer's moved on. Keep up with the times to stay in the game.