IBM Says Flash Memory Total Cost Less Than Hard Drives for the Data Center

Desktops and data centers are two very different beasts, and what's true of one might not be true of the other. For example, even though solid state drive (SSD) pricing has fallen dramatically in past year, it's still cheaper to equip a desktop or laptop system with a mechanical hard disk drive (HDD). The same isn't necessarily true when it comes to data centers, and if you ask IBM, the company will tell you that flash-based storage makes more economical sense at this point. How can that be?

Part of the reason is because flash storage doesn't contain any moving parts, thereby making it a more reliable and durable solution, IBM says. Flash storage is also more energy efficient and doesn't require nearly the same investment into cooling as HDDs do. That's not a big deal for a home system, but when you're talking about a data center, those costs add up in a hurry. And then there are the performance benefits.

IBM FlashSystem 810

"The economics and performance of flash are at a point where the technology can have a revolutionary impact on enterprises, especially for transaction-intensive applications," said Ambuj Goyal, General Manager, Systems Storage, IBM Systems & Technology Group. "The confluence of Big Data, social, mobile and cloud technologies is creating an environment in the enterprise that demands faster, more efficient, access to business insights, and flash can provide that access quickly.”

IBM has a vested interest in flash storage and its comments come as it announces the availability of its "FlashSystem" line of all-flash storage appliances, which are based on technology it acquired from Texas Memory Systems last year. According to IBM, its FlashSystem units are much faster than HDD-based solutions and can provide up to 90 percent reductions in transaction times for applications like banking, trading, and telecommunications; up to 85 percent reductions in batch processing chores; and up to 80 percent reductions in energy consumption.