Solid-state drives have been hyped as the next big thing in enterprise storage for the past couple of years. The promise of easier, faster, and more durable has the irresistible appeal for those who realise the shortcomings of the conventional hard drive. While HDDs aren’t going down without a fight, all signs indicate that the SSD phenomenon is on the rise.
A recent study projected that the global flash-based storage market would hit $63 billion in revenue by 2024. It will register an impressive 18 per cent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) over an eight-year period. North America is the most dominant region, mainly due to growing interest by organisations in Canada and the United States. Apparently big business is fueling the market.
Large companies accounted for more than 69 per cent of the revenue share in 2015. These organisations are expected to be significant investors throughout the forecast period.
The study cited superior performance in demanding workload environments and increasingly lower costs as key factors driving SSD growth on a global scale. Solid-state drives perform at a championship level in an array of usage scenarios. They have IOPS (input-output operations per second) rates that trump HDD by more than double. They also have phenomenal read and write speeds that prove handy for big data applications with high-priority access demands. Newer also easily handle multiple terabytes. SSD is better suited than ever to support the enterprise’s mountainous capacity demands.
The IT services industry has made substantial contributions to the growth of the SSD market. Cloud service providers, for example, are using this storage technology to deliver more flexible solutions. SSD allows users to enjoy faster I/O than HDD-based infrastructures can provide, which benefits database management, analytics, and other cloud applications. And because nothing beats the best of both worlds, some vendors give you the option to toggle workloads between SSD arrays and traditional storage based on individual needs. The balanced combination of performance and price value has some observers viewing SSD as the future foundation of cloud computing.
One edge hard disks currently have and will likely maintain for the foreseeable future is cost. Although prices on flash arrays are steadily declining, they remain significantly more expensive by comparison. According to this post from ExtremeTech, the cost of SSDs ranges from 20 to 50 cents per GB. HDD units hover around 4 cents per GB. Some variables influence costs in either category, including capacity, form factor, and in the case of SSD, flash technology. For example, NAND-based drives are cheaper and have greater storage density than their NOR-based counterparts.
Radical improvements in the way of performance, durability, and reliability have many pundits crowning SSD as the inevitable market victor. Closing the price gap could be the final piece of the puzzle in its bell to bell dominance. One industry player even puts a potential time frame on it. Samsung, a leader in the SSD manufacturing space, will reportedly reduce the cost of its solid-state drives to HDD levels by 2020. Only time will tell just how comparable the price becomes and whether competitors follow suit.
The benefits of solid-state drives are crystal clear. And while the future is bright, it may not be time to hop on the bandwagon just yet. Despite making notable strides, higher costs and less capacity per drive are harsh realities that could limit their potential to select applications. So what do we do? Anything but stands idly on the sidelines.
Get with your IT team to evaluate the capacity, performance, and cost trade-offs between both SSD and HDD storage to figure out which drive platform is best suited for your organisation. Storage infrastructure providers will often allow you to choose your own disks and get the best price and performance for your money.