Flash Storage, the Backbone of IoT

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rajesh-nairIn this special guest feature, Rajesh Nair, CTO at Tegile Systems, discusses the impact multi-tier flash, NVMe, and scale-out storage technologies will have on the real-time processing of data for IoT, and what we can expect in the near future. Nair brings over 19 years of engineering and product development experience to Tegile. Rajesh leads technology and product development of Tegile’s flash storage portfolio. Prior to Tegile, Nair was CTO and Vice President of Engineering at Perfigo, a leading network admission control solutions company that was acquired by Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO). Post acquisition he continued to lead the development of Cisco’s NAC Appliance products. Prior to Perfigo, Rajesh held senior management positions in engineering at Brience and Sun Microsystems.

The Internet of Things is, quite literally, everywhere. According to Cisco, there are an estimated five billion connected devices right now, and most analysts seem to agree that by 2019 that number will more than double to 12.2 billion.

The hype cycle is at its peak with companies of all sizes and industries discussing its potential, market size, security flaws, impacts on government policies and economies. To satiate this interest, software vendors are creating products to prepare for the future, helping businesses sort through the zettabytes of data quickly and efficiently, so they can make sense of it in real time.

There is no doubt that all of this is important. However, it’s also critical to focus on perhaps the “least sexy” – but definitely essential – aspect of IoT – the infrastructure. Particularly, the storage part.

We know what’s going on with software. But about the backbone that makes this all possible? Here are the three advancements in storage technologies to be aware of, and the impact they’ll have on unleashing IoT.


While flash storage has been around for a number of years, it’s only now getting the interface standard it deserves. Non-Volatile Memory Express (known as NVMe for short) has been developed to replace SCSI and SATA as the main interface standard for storage. Unlike other protocols, it is designed specifically for flash storage – that means memory transfers are conducted at sub-millisecond latencies, which is quicker than any public cloud storage offering.

This speed will have a substantial impact on the “big data” aspect of IoT, as the analysis of important data can be conducted quicker than ever before thanks to new hardware capabilities. Sophisticated analytics programs and platforms can now operate at their full potential, drastically improving the speed at which data can be accessed by both cold and hot storage. The rapidity in which businesses can make sense of their customer’s data will mean a better customer experience and a better bottom line, as data can be routed intelligently and quickly.

Multi-tiered flash

Hybrid flash / spinning disk offerings are no longer the only way to use flash in your data center while on a budget.

In fact, with multi-tiered flash storage technology, we can now separate layers for both capacity and performance, meaning an organization can now use flash for mission critical databases and general data, without the maintenance costs of spinning disks or the (higher) latency of the public cloud. The fast flash layer provides better performance, while the dense flash layer allows a smaller footprint. This technology provides a flexible architecture that can easily adjust to scaling and data center realities, and it will have a significant impact in terms of cost savings for IT departments.

Scale-out technology

With seven billion new devices expected to be connected to the internet by 2020, the storage arrays supporting IoT applications will need to scale at the same pace. The good news is that major advances in scalability with flash technology means that soon, any data center will be able to keep up with new demands.

Until recently, most flash data centers featured scale-up technology. This allowed storage administrators to add as many drives as they’d like on top of their storage, but eventually the storage controllers would become a bottleneck because they ran out of compute. The only solution was to continuously expand CAPEX and buy new arrays to keep up with growth.

With scale-out technology, administrators will be able to add capacity on demand, without having to make a trade-off between performance and capacity. Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen the public cloud grow to prominence precisely because of this – now it’s the private cloud’s turn.

Advances in storage are crucial to the growth of IoT. After all, at the end of the day, the software that parses all of our structured and unstructured data is only as good as the hardware it runs on. Flash storage is helping to turn data centers from CAPEX to OPEX. This is vital to the growth of IoT.


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