If IT leaders listened every time a vendor claimed it started a revolution in business technology, their heads would never stop spinning. Nonetheless, steady improvements in some technologies should provoke a re-examination of the current state of affairs.
Solid state drives have been around for a long time, but now they are working a pincer movement on the IT department – and it is quite an interesting prospect.
In personal computing, fast SSDs, which are now reaching 240GB capacity, are offering the kind of performance acceptable on a desktop, but within the sub-laptop form factor – although not part of the official technical spec of the ultrabook, a good SSD can make these machines a serious, though still expensive, candidate for your organisation’s personal business machine of choice.
Meanwhile, SSDs are also pushing server storage performance. For example, midrange SAN arrays now support SSD drives to around 800GB. In both network and direct-attached storage, SSD is creating massive improvements in server memory speed. Again, cost is the limiting factor. An SSD can cost 10 times the equivalent mechanical hard drive, so a wholesale migration is off the cards.
But moving to solid state can be used tactically to remove bottlenecks in your server infrastructure. On the desktop is can offer travelling senior executives superb performance without straining the shoulders on long journeys.
Add cloud computing into the mix, and you can see a divergent storage strategy emerging. Cloud storage lowers costs, but is remote from the user or server, hampering speed. In this way it compliments SSDs. Fast costly SSD can be deployed in servers where high performance is essential, and with users whose roles demands it, while cloud storage can handle lower speed archiving and less urgent items.
As with any new approach, tread carefully. Pilot incrementally to ensure bugs are ironed out before approaching on a larger scale. Nonetheless, as SSD prices will continue to fall, the computing boost these devices offer will come within reach of more firms. It’s best to understand the advantages, and pitfalls, of a mixed approach ahead of the game.