As discussed in a recent webinar with Storage Switzerland, Dell has broken the price barrier with the Compellent All-Flash Array. Thanks to the intelligent mixing of SLC and MLC flash, we now offer a reliable, feature rich flash array for about the same price as you would pay for a high performance HDD based system (but of course you wouldn't get the All-Flash performance experience). What surprised me on the webinar was the sense that I got from some listener questions that they didn't have the right use case for All-Flash.

I like the simple answer that the host of the webinar, Storage Switzerland's founder George Crump provided; "If you are adding drives to increase performance and not capacity, then you can justify all flash". Let me elaborate on George's point.

Before flash, when it’s time to improve performance of a storage array you have basically two options. The first option is buying faster hard drives, upgrading from 10k RPM to 15k RPM for example. That is a sound strategy, but what if you are already using 15k RPM drives and still need more performance? There is no 20k RPM drive to upgrade to.

Your other option, and the only one if you were using 15k RPM drives, was to add additional hard disk to the array and extend the volume across those drives with wide striping. Something that Compellent's Storage Center does automatically for you as you add drives. Before there was a flash option this was the most viable way to go.

Now, of course, there is the flash option, but is it really an option for mainstream data centers? Five years ago, even one year ago, because flash was sold at such a premium, you had to really be able to justify flash all the way to the CFO. That meant running all kinds of data and I/O analysis to determine if your application could justify flash. These are very time consuming processes, and time is something most mainstream data centers just don't have. The storage manager at these organizations either took a leap of faith and hoped flash would solve their performance problems, or for most mainstream data centers, they added faster and an increasing quantity of drives.

But now with the Compellent All-Flash Array you can get all the performance you need for the price of HDD. The level of analysis required to justify flash is now much simpler. It really does come down to if you are adding more drives for performance you should consider flash instead.

For more information check out the webinar. When you register you will be able to download a copy of Storage Switzerland’s Lab Report on our All-Flash Array. And for the latest happenings in Dell Storage follow us on Twitter, @Dell_Storage.