Towards an Agile Flash Environment

October 19, 2018

What enterprise users do with their flash storage today may be quite different than what they did with it last year. The applications and use cases change as an organization grows and adapts. In the broader business world this is often referred to as “agility,” and as we speak to more and more customers, it’s clear it’s an apt concept to describe where the industry needs to be today.

Agility and innovation are comrades. Being agile means responding to a market need or an internal need, providing a bespoke product or service to a customer, being both evolutionary and revolutionary when called for.

We may be biased over here, but we believe programmable storage controllers are the secret sauce for agility in flash memory. Programmable controllers can support the development of new features, new applications, new expectations. They can help cope with new media technologies like MRAM or 3D XPoint.

When technical and cost challenges impede agility, programmable controllers can help overcome the challenges. Data centers today constantly need to scale, not just in capacity but in capability to accommodate new applications. Commercial users have ever-higher performance expectations because they are also under pressure to stay agile.

NVMe is one good example. The appetite for its performance is creating a rush to introduce new deployments. But bringing NVMe solutions to market takes time, time for design, updates, revision. It also incurs the risk of guesswork (especially if using pre-production samples). And then, if there are bugs or if the design is wrong? Start all over again.

The flexibility to support new media and new features – computational storage, hybrid solutions, open compute – is not a luxury with programmable controllers. FPGAs are not just a development tool anymore. Now they can be used in the way they were intended: programming and reprogramming. Program for performance, latency, traffic patterns, uptime, security, endurance – there’s virtually no limit. Reduce design time and cost, respond rapidly to updates and revision cycles, bring innovation to flash environments.

We frequently get “in the weeds” with our technology, but the benefits of programmable storage controllers can be summed up in one word: agility.