This will be no surprise for storage pros, but using flash in a storage system makes applications run faster. It's also more expensive. So the trick is finding a way to use flash for appropriate workloads, to make the most of your investment. According to Enterprise Strategy Group founder and senior analyst Steve Duplessie, it is also important to look beyond performance numbers and choose a flash vendor with a fully baked flash strategy.
"Irrespective of whom your vendor is, understand their flash story. If it makes no sense to you, if they're only talking about bits and bytes and techie stuff, if it doesn't make business logical sense to you, just fundamental stuff, then you'll probably need to go talk to somebody else," Duplessie said. "This is a good transition point for this industry. There are a lot of companies that can talk the game, and there are some that really don't have their act together yet. So you've got to feel comfortable, because anyone who doesn't make you feel comfortable in this respect is going to put you back in time, for whatever period that is. And the rest of the industry is moving way too fast … you can't afford to go backwards."
Duplessie also noted that "cache is king" and an important part of administrating a storage system is making sure data is placed where it is best suited. He also noted that while tiered environments remain in place, administrators should be focusing on including more automation of managing data among all of a system's tiers.
"Let the machine figure out some of this stuff for you. You should be figuring out more strategic imperatives. Keep yourself valuable in that business [and think] about new, interesting ways of generating value and revenue," Duplessie said.
Duplessie predicted that data orchestration will be a future area of innovation.
"In the future, we're going to think about how our data centers comprise components of a system, and that orchestration of where data goes at any given time -- that's really interesting. That's the next billion-dollar play in this particular space. I have no idea who's going to do it. We're years away from getting to that, but that's the next true valuable play, is all in data orchestration around how do I make sure all this stuff happens. It won't happen unless you accept automation. The more you try and control, the slower you're going to be in terms of doing that stuff," Duplessie said.