All-Flash: Worth the Wait

Recently, I was in a meeting with HP executives discussing appropriate storage tiers for healthcare applications. The ever-increasing demand for healthcare storage is a huge challenge. The importance of not only storing PHI, but protecting it, archiving it, and ensuring it is highly available continues to be an industry-wide challenge. A challenge that is essential to get right, and excessively expensive unless properly fine-tuned. Suddenly, during the conversation, a revelation! “Our All-Flash solutions at the same price point as HDD solutions will change everything that we are discussing”.

And so it will. The benefits of flash based solid-state storage have been increasingly realized since laptops, cell-phones and, of course, iPads and the subsequent tablet invasion all became “diskless”. These mobile devices showed the benefits of storage that were faster, cooler, more energy efficient and more durable than traditional HDD storage. Ever since, the cost of SSD has been plummeting and closing in on the cost of HHD.  Back in 2010, I began to imagine the tremendous benefits of flash storage networks for healthcare applications, which demanded faster data retrieval from larger databases, increased reliability and all of the benefits of removing ‘moving parts’ from the storage equation. Moving parts generate heat, slow down the retrieval process, require additional energy and eventually break down.

I made (and lost) a bet back then. The bet was that SSD would become cheaper than HDD on a per-gigabyte basis within 3 years. What I hadn’t counted on was the tremendous supply of HDD storage and how entrenched that had become in the industry. Progress, however, can only wait so long.   I paid up on the bet (a lunch), but would certainly be willing to go double-or-nothing now. Any takers?

I am excited about how ongoing technology advancements in storage match the needs of healthcare so well. And the need has certainly never been greater.

  • Enterprise scale: Start small and grow to up to 12 PB of ultra-dense usable flash capacity.
  • Unified flexibility: Block, file and object access from a single capacity pool.
  • Enterprise class Tier-1 resiliency: High availability backed by HP’s 6-Nines Guarantee program.

As we strive to find the best IT solutions to enable the vision of a “learning healthcare system” for future generations, there is no doubt that we will require the fastest, most scalable, efficient storage platforms to build upon. All-Flash solutions are arriving just in time!


Author: Bill Flatley, Field CTO for Healthcare

Bill is responsible for technical strategies and recommendations for Comport’s Healthcare clients. His extensive experience includes four healthcare systems in leadership roles supporting Clinical Applications, Digital Health, and Office of the CIO as the primary liaison between IT and the business.

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