Michael Kuhn is Vice President and Business Line Executive for IBM's FlashSystem & Enterprise Storage.
In the era of mobile, companies that can best connect mobile and internet communications with things like digital media, mobile advertising, and big data are the ones poised for success. To do this, the data that organizations serve up to their mobile customers has to be stored in a way that can speak easily to the application, and must also be able to move quickly despite slower networks. To enhance the performance of mobile applications, it is important to consider the type of storage that organizations are using on the back end to connect to their mobile customers. Companies must be able to efficiently store, access and analyze information to serve up the right content to the right customers.
Though organizations are pushing for faster response times and constant data availability, they do not want to compromise on aspects such as cost, scalability and flexibility. The future of media will be in the hands of the company that can ensure access and analysis when and where it’s needed with storage that will not degrade and will provide better price performance.
For years, as big data and analytics have proliferated every aspect of the enterprise, processing power has increased and networking bandwidth has grown, but storage has been the single largest factor to weigh down system performance. Spinning disks, the more popular form of storage, has restricted applications due to its own limits around disk speed and I/O. All that is changing with flash storage, which supercharges an organization’s IT infrastructure, enabling it to keep pace with access-demands of its mobile applications.
Analysts predict that organizations are going to move the vast majority of active data to flash storage over the next five years. A lot of this movement is being driven by consumer demand for mobile devices and the demand from consumers for fast access to data. Add this to the organization’s need to merge more traditional mobile services with big data and analytics to deliver innovative services to satisfy the modern customer’s need for personalization, and turbo-charged, flash storage becomes critical to the organization.
Flash storage is disrupting three industries in particular:
One of the fastest-growing mobile industries is mobile payments with the likes of Square, PayPal, Google Wallet, ApplePay growing at a fast pace. With more and more transactions being done directly through mobile devices, the data storage technology that facilitates purchasing must keep up with the pace of mobile payment adoption. The entire mobile payment business model is based on the flexibility and scalability of cloud resources and distributed computing infrastructure. Payment databases are traditionally very large and require fast response times and low latency. Latency can slow down transactions and if the latency is too high, the transaction can be lost. With its powerful combination of high performance and low TCO, flash storage can help the industry meet new demands and tame IT outlays simultaneously.
Healthcare is an industry being turned upside down. The digital health revolution means that modern healthcare professionals, as well as patients themselves, interact with their own medical information on mobile applications. Healthcare data spans the spectrum from pharmaceutical research to medical images to personal health records. The requirements to electronically create, transfer and view medical data in real time on handheld devices is the future of the healthcare industry.
Nurses use mobile carts with built-in laptops to chart information regarding their patients. Every time a nurse checks a patient, dispenses medication, or takes vital signs, information is logged into a laptop wirelessly connected to the hospital’s network. This data is recorded into a backend database where information regarding the patient is stored. Every time a nurse inputs information or pulls information about a patient or client, they use the database. Every time doctors access this information whether in the hospital, at their practice, or from their home, they use the database. Every time administrators access this information, they use the database. For hospitals with hundreds of patients and hundreds of employees, this puts tremendous pressure on the database applications.
Generating high numbers of both read and write cycles lead to longer latencies when accessing traditional hard drives. This I/O bottleneck can be reduced significantly, if not eliminated, by replacing these hard drive arrays with solid state storage. In addition to performance and reliability, security is a priority in healthcare. Redundant array of independent disks (RAID) technology coupled with the no-single-point-of-failure design is critical in healthcare environments where data loss is unacceptable.
Finally, the online retail business has continued to thrive in the digital age thanks to mobile searching, targeted advertising, and traditional desktop shopping. With targeted advertising finding its way into much of what we view on the internet today, and a wide range of new formats and platforms from which to launch new media, goods, and services, customers now anticipate that retailers have shifted their business models to a more personalized shopping experience.
The popularity of large online marketplaces places incredible demands for high performance and quick response times on the website infrastructure. With membership and transaction volumes continuing to rise, those demands are set to continue. In addition to having more mobile customers, these customers have higher expectations for the content that mobile shopping applications offer. They are demanding rapid responses, quicker transactions, dynamic content and faster loading of application pages. By removing the latency of moving parts, flash storage systems present access times of less than 100 microseconds, over 50 times faster than hard disk drives.
As the world continues to navigate the current technological revolution with mobile computing at its core, harnessing big data for public and personal benefit will continue to present itself as one of the most important business demands of the foreseeable future. Mobile technology has given the customer unprecedented power and influence in the commercial decision-making process, but it will be the companies that are able to connect mobile applications with the right data storage and analytics solutions which will provide the best customer experience.
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