By Kay Ackerman
We’re now entering a world where cloud-managed big data is not just a topic of conversation in tech circles but a necessity for companies and service providers alike. Shifting data needs drive technological innovation. The truth is that as data gets bigger, older technology isn’t able to keep up with data production and storage. With servers, more cloud-based companies are ditching archaic spinning disk technology for powerful storage arrays fueled by solid-state storage technology.
This isn’t to say that there won’t be some significant challenges for early adopters of solid-state storage in the cloud. In fact, this is completely new technology few organizations are attempting to pioneer.
Powering the cloud with solid-state drives, or SSDs, was once a pipe dream for anyone dealing with data on a large scale. SSD technology has always been ridiculously expensive, so much that the idea of powering a cloud service with solid-state storage was laughable. Few enterprise-level companies could build a sustainable cloud with such expensive hardware. Over the past two years, storage device manufacturers have developed ways to keep the cost of SSDs down. Now, with the help of advanced manufacturing practices, SSD technology is not much more expensive than hard disk technology. On top of that, SSDs use much less energy than their HDD counterparts. Additionally, with new SSD-powered server management operating systems, the lifecycle of SSD technology is only expected to increase.
So, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine why independent enterprise-level companies and cloud service providers alike would move to implement SSD storage arrays in their datacenters. Really, if you could have the power, performance and energy savings of an SSD system at the price or spinning disk technology why wouldn’t you opt for more power and performance?
Expect to see SSDs in data centers in 2013
Over the past few years we’ve been seeing a lot of solid-state technology in laptops, tablet PCs and smartphones. In fact, they’ve pretty much taken over the mobile computing market. Flash storage is quickly becoming the new standard. With this trend rapidly growing, open source infrastructure-as-a-service companies like Rackspace have officially taken notice. Rackspace, for instance, recently debuted an open source solution called Cloud Block Storage that is optimal for integrating SSD arrays into servers in the data center. All of Rackspace’s cloud customers have access to this new cloud storage service. As time progresses, we’re likely to see more cloud companies and industries affected by the flash storage movement.
In the early 1980s, few PCs had hard drives because they were so new and expensive. Just a few decades later, a new contender is seeking to supplant the hard drive as king of the data storage mediums. The flow of technology toward smaller, faster, less expensive components continues, washing away aging technology and brining in the new. As the cost of SSDs continues to decrease, and as performance needs for the cloud continue to grow, more data centers will transition to SSD storage. It’ll take some time, but the change is inevitable.