The Business Case for Flash Is Compelling When Looking at Data Centre Efficiency

Technology is evolving faster than anyone anticipated and having a significant impact on our ability to reduce our storage footprint as well as operational costs. We are seeing this evolution play out in our storage lifecycle management strategy, which is undergoing a dramatic upgrade thanks to the benefits of All Flash FAS (AFF).

As part of our lifecycle management strategy, we are decommissioning some older FAS nodes running on ONTAP 9 and replacing them with AFF. We are excited to migrate to AFF for a variety for reasons, including improved application performance, higher density, and economies of scale that will help us transition to the future.

The biggest change we see will be in the provisioning strategy. In the past, we had to overprovision to meet performance requirements. AFF takes that issue off the table. One AFF solid state drive (SSD) equals the I/O performance of multiple shelves of hard disk drive (HDD) or spindle technology. The sizing of the array is much simpler because we can provision based on capacity, not on future performance requirements. The AF700’s powerful controllers and incredibly dense drives will dramatically improve the application performance while minimizing the footprint.

Another benefit is the non-disruptive migration made possibly by ONTAP.  We anticipate no interruption of service for our end users, something we could not have achieved with older 7-mode technology. To non-disruptively move the applications requires three steps. First, we will add the new A700 nodes to the existing cluster, then we will use ONTAP’s Volume-Move feature to non-disruptively migrate all the data from the older nodes to the new AFF nodes. Finally, we will remove the older nodes from the cluster. We will repeat this process to refresh all our existing storage infrastructure without an outage.

A smaller storage footprint reduces data center costs while significantly improving efficiency.

  • Power requirements of 36.5kW are being reduced to 6.5Kw, an 82% drop. Based on a $0.08 cent/kWh electricity rate and PUE of 1.5, costs will drop from almost $32,000 to just $6,800. Our savings would be double or triple if we were in a traditional leased or outsourced facility. We also eliminate the additional costs and latency issues that come with adding a second cage to house the legacy and/or new hardware during the migration.
  • Space requirements are dropping 91%, as we move from 380 rack units (RU) of hardware to 36RU to house the three A700s.
  • On the greenhouse gas side, our CO2 savings are projected to be 185 metric tons, equal to taking 36 cars off the road per year.

Next Steps

We will be upgrading to AFF in phases. Initially, we will be replacing approximately nine racks of FAS equipment with one rack containing three A700 15TB SSDs. Along with the migration, we will introduce 40Gb fiber into our clusters, which should dramatically improve data throughput. The combination of new, faster solid-state drives, faster storage controllers, and faster connections will have an enormous impact on capacity, performance, and efficiency—and the services we delivery to our business customers.

What’s Next

The adoption of Flash brings us one step closer to the vision of a data center that fits into a living room, not a football field. AFF plays a major role in achieving this goal by improving performance, simplifying operations, increasing data center efficiency, and streamlining the integration of any future infrastructure changes. A small footprint offers exciting possibilities to reduce IT overhead costs, especially space and power, without sacrificing performance.

Check out the infographic below:

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