The Economics of Data Storage Efficiency

RE:IMAGINE Performance 2nd November, 2020

Pure P3 Data Storage Blog Image

For decades, the enterprise data storage industry lagged behind compute and networking in terms of innovation, held back by legacy disk and tape technology. In 2010, Pure Storage introduced enterprise-grade all-flash storage arrays and started a revolution in storage that brought it up to speed, no pun intended, with compute and networking.

Legacy disk and tape still persists although IDC market share numbers show that more and more organisations are moving their data storage to all-flash arrays. Storage efficiency is key. The incredible density of flash media compared to spinning disk storage is one reason for the trend towards flash.

Flash means big savings on space, power, cooling, and hosting fees. These translate to real savings. The benefits don’t end there. Flash arrays are also superior in terms of performance, ease of management, and reliability. 

Storage vendors have sought for years to fit more data into less space. Flash does that by an order of magnitude. Pure has pushed the envelope of innovation in flash storage over the years with always-on, advanced data-reduction technologies and optimising for the emerging media such as NVME and QLC.

To demonstrate storage efficiency and model real-world savings, Pure Storage commissioned ESG to conduct a detailed survey and report. Using a combination of its research and economic validation services, ESG validated the effectiveness of Pure’s storage-efficiency technology when compared against alternative solutions and technologies in real-world deployments.

In ESG’s Economic Validation report, “Validating the Economics of Improved Storage Efficiency with Pure Storage,” 37% of survey respondents named the cost of on-premises storage infrastructure as one area in which they had the greatest opportunity to significantly streamline or reduce costs.

Storage efficiency — fitting more data into less raw flash — is a key contributor to reducing the amount of physical storage that you must purchase, deploy, power, and cool. Technologies like deduplication, compression, and thin provisioning help to provide greater storage efficiency.

ESG also found that storage systems that also provide higher levels of performance — as well as easier administration, deployment, and maintenance — provide the greatest overall value at the lowest possible cost.

To show this, ESG looked at TCO per effective capacity for three industries: financial services, healthcare, and government. ESG surveyed 525 highly qualified storage practitioners and decision-makers who were very familiar with their organisation’s on-premises storage infrastructure. They leveraged the survey data to create a TCO/ROI model that compared the costs and benefits of deploying, managing, and supporting storage capacity over a three-year period, including administration, maintenance, support, power, cooling, and floorspace costs.

The results show that Pure saved financial services organizations up to 59% in TCO, and healthcare and government up to 62%.

Effective storage

When you need a certain amount of storage, you don’t necessarily go out and buy that exact amount, whether flash or disk. The amount of storage that you need is called effective capacity. In the flash world, most arrays work backward from that effective capacity number to identify how much actual (or raw) flash is needed. The basic formula is this: raw capacity (the total storage on the flash itself), less any system overhead (the space needed for system software) that equals usable capacity. That usable storage amount is then multiplied by an expected data-reduction ratio to predict the total effective capacity.

The higher the data-reduction ratio, the more effective capacity you get from the raw flash. So, if one vendor has a ratio of 2:1 and another has 3:1, you can get all the effective capacity you need with less flash by choosing the storage that has better efficiency — thus lowering your acquisition costs.

The data-reduction ratio is a key factor: It drives efficiency and potentially lowers initial acquisition costs. Pure’s multi-stage, always-on deduplication and compression technologies drive the higher data-reduction ratios that Pure achieves relative to legacy vendors. And as ESG found, Pure can deliver up to 2.6x better efficiency—and therefore much lower acquisition costs — for the same capacity.

Pure stands behind its data reduction technologies with our Right-Size Guarantee. If your FlashArray does not deliver on the promised effective capacity as you migrate your data over the six-month period of the guarantee, we’ll make it right. This includes providing free additional flash, as-needed, to meet the written guarantee. And, we’ll do it non-disruptively. With the Right-Size Guarantee, you get the storage you need without ever having to worry about buying an undersized (or oversized) array, even as you control costs.

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