All-Flash Arrays

We live in an age when a lot of technological improvement is incremental. Much of what comes along is merely a bit faster, a bit smaller or a bit cheaper than what went before. At the same time, some new technology – even truly transformative technology – must initially ape older technology in order to win acceptance. As a result, we sometimes fail to spot the real innovations until much later, after others have grabbed most of the advantage to be had, because we are still thinking about them within the frame of the old technology we know and understand. So it is with All-Flash Arrays. It is clear now that Flash storage is enterprise-ready, and that All-Flash is indeed ‘the new normal’. Yet in many cases Flash is seen as just another tier of disk – indeed, some AFAs are still constructed using solid-state drives, or SSDs, which are Flash packaged to look and work like a disk drive. However, while SSDs yield much better performance than disks, and most enterprise applications will perform better on Flash than on disk, there is much more to Flash than that. In particular, the way it works is fundamentally different from a spinning disk. In a recent online study of 305 IT professionals, we found some early adopters who had already realised this: they recognised that Flash truly can have transformational properties. However, we also found Flash sceptics. The question is how well do people understand Flash’s potential benefits and how to exploit them? What have the early adopters learnt, what might the sceptics have missed, and how can the rest of us get the best from the technology?

Bryan Betts is sadly no longer with us. He worked as an analyst at Freeform Dynamics between July 2016 and February 2024, when he tragically passed away following an unexpected illness. We are proud to continue to host Bryan’s work as a tribute to his great contribution to the IT industry.