Flash technology isn’t just for storing your most critical data anymore. Thanks to all-flash storage arrays with super-efficient, in-line deduplication capabilities, flash can now be the most cost-effective choice for your less critical storage needs as well.

This can be illustrated by two use cases we’ve developed for EMC’s all-flash, solid-state clustered storage system, XtremIO. The first is virtual desktop infrastructure. I know what you’re thinking—why would you want to use the most expensive storage for one of the less expensive applications, virtual desktops? To provide a consistent desktop experience and to save money, actually.

The fact is, when you look at a multiple virtual desktop environment and analyze what’s stored on the traditional C-drive for those desktops, it is probably 80 to 90 percent the same for each desktop. It’s true. If you check out your laptop versus your neighbor’s laptop versus his neighbor’s laptop, the operating system that sits on each laptop is identical. What’s unique—the background and files that make you you—is only 10 to 20 percent of the actual data that is stored on a desktop.

XtremIO provides ultra-efficient in-line deduplication along with flash technology to drastically reduce the footprint of that 80 percent of duplicate data stored on your VDI without impacting performance. With a 10-to-1 deduplication ratio, that means if you have to buy 5,000 drives to serve your VDI now, you will only need to buy 500 drives using XtremIO.

Yes, the flash storage array is more expensive per unit but the fact that you need only a fraction of the number of units means you will save considerable money using the right flash storage array.  Because XtremIO has a “secret sauce” which leverages flash technology behind its superior in-line deduplication technology, you won’t sacrifice VDI performance. So you can do 10-to-1 or even 20-to-1 consolidation without the user feeling any impact as they use their virtual desktop.

Not only that, but using the flash array will also use less power and less space in your data center, hence it’s greener.  Just imagine providing 10 times more capacity than what’s physically available with de-dupe and reducing the power/space requirements by 10 times compared to a traditional deployment.

So what does it require? Converting to all-flash storage is pretty much like any type of storage migration. You need to wheel in your new array and copy data over to it. Depending on how you do it you might or might not see downtime. XtremIO will do deduplication as you are copying the data over, only copying the bits that are different from what was copied before.

Shrinking App Dev Storage

The second use case is reducing storage costs for application development. With the advent of virtualization, creating environments for application development is easier than ever. So as we work on app development, we tend to spin up multiple environments for the development process. For each app project, we generally generate a production environment, a data recovery (DR) environment and multiple development environments. Some projects can use several times that many. This makes sense, because it’s cheaper and faster to spin up a lot of different environments for a given application. The problem is that every one of these environments still consumes a large storage footprint. So we may be using a lot less CPU because of virtualization but we are using a lot more storage.

By using XtremIO, you can consolidate a project’s, let’s say nine, copies of dev and test environments that are all using the same seed data into one storage environment. The idea is to match the storage technology to the compute technology—we want to be able to scale out a lot of environments without scaling out a lot of storage.

These are only two of the instances where all-flash storage arrays with superior in-line deduplication have saved EMC IT money on services, power and data center space. And we are only beginning to leverage the capabilities that XtremIO can deliver. Little wonder that it is one of the fastest growing storage products in EMC’s portfolio. There’s definitely going to be fewer spinning drives out there in the months ahead.

Paul Divittorio

Paul Divittorio

Sr. Director, Cloud Infrastructure, Distinguished Engineer, Dell IT
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