Demand for Virtual Workloads Spurs Hybrid Flash Storage

As virtualization continues to infuse the data center, enterprises are re-examining their storage systems and practices in order to find more efficiencies.

Most savvy IT people already suspect that enterprise workloads processed inside virtual machines or in cloud services are swiftly overtaking those done in on-site data centers, and now there is more evidence to support that theory.

Hybrid flash—a mix of solid-state flash drives and conventional hard disk drives, predicated on use cases—is clearly prevailing over all-flash installations as virtualization hits a tipping point in midrange and large enterprises, according to the 2016 State of Storage in Virtualization report released a few days ago by ActualTech Media and Tegile Systems.

This and other findings from the survey suggest that as virtualization further infuses the data center, enterprises are re-examining their storage systems to find more efficiencies with improved hardware.

As coverage in eWEEK and other tech publications clearly shows, storage tools and capacities in general have improved greatly during the last half-decade. Trust in cloud services and virtualization—especially with regard to regulated industries—has gained greatly at the same time.

As a result, the storage industry—as it has for the last five to six years—is continuing to see increased demand for NAND flash-infused systems, with hybrid flash/HDD by far the most prevalent at the end of 2015. Workloads that can be channeled on demand to faster flash or hybrid flash nodes offer faster production results in nearly all use cases.

"Virtualization as a trend has been growing steadily for some time now, but available tools have now achieved the credibility to convince IT to move even the largest or most important work loads to a virtual environment," said Scott D. Lowe, partner and co-founder of ActualTech Media, which did the research. "In this survey, we found that virtualization and storage are at a fascinating intersection right now, leading to bigger and faster virtualization and an evolution of the storage market."

Notable findings from the survey include:

  • A rising number of enterprises of all sizes are turning to virtual machines to power more and larger workloads, even inside their most mission-critical systems.
  • More than 60 percent of respondents operate with a majority of their environment virtualized, with 97 percent have at least some workloads virtualized.
  • Of those, 66 percent have virtualized Microsoft SQL Server.
  • Among applications that generate large workloads, file sharing, Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SharePoint are virtualized by 53 percent, 49 percent and 45 percent, respectively.
  • Sixty-one percent of respondents indicate they currently use a hybrid storage array within their data center.
  • Twenty-three percent of respondents use some kind of all-flash array, while only 3 percent run their entire storage environment using all-flash.
  • Seventy percent of respondents cite improving existing application response times as a key driver for deploying flash storage.
  • Fifty-six percent of respondents report using multiple storage protocols, with 30 percent using three or more protocols.
  • Block-level protocols are most popular for virtualized environments, with 48 percent of respondents indicating they use Fibre Channel and 42 percent indicating they use iSCSI. Thirty-six percent report using the file-level protocol NFS.

The report polled more than 1,000 IT professionals across the globe. For more details, download the full report here.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...