Editor’s Note: the following is a guest contribution from Mark Welke, NetApp senior director of platform marketing.
Powerful, rugged, portable, and reliable: there is no arguing that flash memory is a seismically disruptive game changer that has radically redefined what is not only possible, but also now even common, in storage.
But as veritable information avalanches are still consistently devoted to flash’s power—the race fan raving about higher IOPS and lower latency, as well as its smaller physical footprint—there has been less discussion about what flash will empower.
What will flash empower?
That flash has changed and will continue to change everything is true. But that change comes not as a result of its specs and stats, but rather with the velocity and accuracy of the decision making it makes possible. As the rate of change continues to increase, “what is possible” will soon be seen as “what is required.”
Today, more than ever before, business success is often met or lost on the narrow edges of decisions that are split second or informed by deep understanding—or increasingly, both. Access to both wider and more focused degrees of information is rapidly transforming from a significant competitive advantage to a business necessity. From oil and gas companies to the financial services industry to healthcare providers to the retail brands with which consumers interact daily, nanosecond analysis of information, data, and consumer preferences is now the norm.
Flash is what makes that possible, but what does bringing computing power closer to the end user enable? More important, what changes will it continue to drive in our day-to-day reality?
Flashing our day-to-day reality
Now, thanks to flash, information has become transactional in nature. Users have grown conditioned to expect—and will most certainly come to demand—an experience that is more tailored, more informed, and more immediate in order to make business and even personal choices.
To meet these expectations, decisions and data are saved and harvested for future analysis. The continued sharing and accessing of this data will create huge repositories in the cloud, hosted everywhere: on social networks, at major consumer retailers, by manufacturers, and anywhere else it makes sense for information to be shared. This data will be enjoyed by end users, analyzed by business, and distributed on ultra-high-speed networks for those to consume. The management of the data will continue to be the most challenging aspect in the future, as it is today.
As flash creates demand for more data from more sources, competitive advantages will be defined by the ability to better analyze and predict outcomes. Certainly, financial institutions and insurance companies have been perfecting the art of predictable outcomes for years. Putting greater power in the hands of the decision makers allows decisions to be made with more accuracy based on fact and at a lower risk, which accelerates business.
The true power of flash
More and more, these learned best practices will be applied to a broad cross section of the consumer and business marketplace, creating greater need for reliable, accurate, and lightning-fast access to relevant and accurate information in the process. As this information grows more sensitive to users and more critical to driving business success for organizations, security and protection of IP will become paramount.
Today, thanks in many ways to the advances in flash, end users thrive on the ability to control their own destiny through informed choices. Sometimes this information changes the outcome of their decisions; sometimes it doesn’t. But the ability to make more decisions more quickly than ever before, while simultaneously reducing risk and increasing consumer and decision-maker confidence, will create a downstream ripple effect in the industry. End-user expectations will continue to rise for speed and quantity of information, which will drive continued development of products and services. The net effect, as we will all continue to witness, is the ability to dramatically accelerate business at the speed of flash.