The CEO of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider Infinitely Virtual has a message for owners of SMB’s: “it’s the storage performance, dummy.”
“For years, the IT establishment has been telling businesses that faster performance can be achieved through more memory and more CPU power,” says Adam Stern, Infinitely Virtual founder and CEO. “The problem with that is simply this: at some point, you have enough processing power and memory capacity, and you’re still not satisfied with how your applications perform.”
The solution, according to Stern: you need faster storage.
“Even within the storage business, the mantra has been ‘large enough’ storage,” Stern says. “Only the very savvy have been recommending faster storage for the office network. Now, with the advent of inexpensive SSD/flash disks for the office, everyone can get very fast storage within a network environment. How does this translate to the data center and the cloud? Not all that well, as it turns out. Even as you add more CPU and memory to the cloud, apps are still sluggish.”
The reason, according to Stern, is that most cloud providers have opted for larger capacity – but slightly slower and less expensive — disks. High speed flash storage has become feasible in the cloud environment only recently, but even SSD drives have their limits in the cloud, he contends.
“The industry hasn’t done an adequate job equipping business users with the vocabulary they need to understand storage speed”
Stern says. “The key is latency: as StorageSwiss puts it, how long it takes for a single data request to be received and the right data found and accessed from the storage media. The norm used to be storage latency of 5 milliseconds – now, it’s 1 to 2 ms latency across the board. And that’s not even fast enough. Sub-millisecond performance is just around the corner – and users need to start asking their providers for that kind of capability. Before long, if providers aren’t hitting sub-ms latency, they won’t even be in the ballpark.”
Industry analyst Technavio has identified high-speed flash storage as among the three biggest emerging trends in cloud computing, noting that flash storage offers greater efficiency compared to the traditional HDD storage device. “Currently, the cost of flash-based NAS storage is several times larger than that of HDD-based NAS storage,” the firm reports. “With the increased user access needs, flash-based NAS storage arrays offer 40-45 times better performance than hard disk input/output (I/O) performance. Because of the higher cost involved in procuring flash-based NAS storage systems, these systems will experience a higher growth in large and mega data centers.”