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4 Implementations of Flash Storage

Flash storage has increased in popularity in the past year or so largely to its definitive advantages over traditional storage media. However, there are a number of competing flash design concepts, not all of which are created equal.

In fact, there are four major approaches to using flash memory to help handle big data. Let’s take a look at those models and see how they stack up against one another:

  1. PCIe flash memory cards. This technology uses cars installed in servers alongside software that treats this flash memory as system memory. A number of types of applications can put this technology to good use, including those applications that require low latency and high performance. Latency is much less than in a scenario where NFS is the main protocol used to access the data. The downside is that this model doesn’t use shared data, and will also consume disproportionately large amounts of processor time.
  2. Flash memory storage arrays. These shared storage arrays can be installed as part of a SAN. They don’t replace your NAS, but they can be added to such a configuration. The downside here is that, because one piece of the flash array has to interface with a NFS gateway, you’re looking at a significant latency hit.
  3. Edge NAS/Caching. This design approach works in a couple of different ways. The flash storage can work as a caching appliance that then offloads to the NAS or to your file servers. Alternatively they can function as an edge NAS device. This can offer incremental performance for users, but it can also be somewhat intrusive to your current NAS.
  4. NFS acceleration. One of the more recent implementations of flash storage is as an acceleration appliance as NFS. The flash is used purely as cache, and is optimized to handle NFS requests. It gets data on and off your system with the least amount of latency and CPU cycles as possible. This is the most cost-effective and simple flash storage implementation, and offers a reasonable solution to some organizations. On the downside, it still requires NAS on the backside to handle operations that aren’t cacheable.

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Unitiv, Inc., is a professional provider of enterprise IT solutions. Unitiv delivers its services from its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, and its regional office in Iselin, New Jersey, USA. Unitiv provides a strategic approach to its service delivery, focusing on three core components: People, Products, and Processes. The People to advise and support customers. The Products to design and build solutions. The Processes to govern and manage post-implementation operations.