Five Sectors That Need to Make the Switch to Flash and Why

EMC’s Sean Horne on the importance of Flash storage


Enterprises are reevaluating their storage strategies, specifically for applications and workloads that require high performance and quick response times. This is due to the fact that traditional storage environments deter application performance and increase latency.


What’s a viable solution to this issue? Flash storage. Flash storage brings many advantages such as high performance, flexibility, and reduced storage requirements.  Any business that hinges on performance can benefit from flash storage.


The rise of flash storage coincides with the rise of big data analytics, hyperscale computing, massive databases, and other intensive workloads. While these can be the catalyst for new services or revenue streams to be created within the business, large and small are both recognizing that they may need to rethink their storage strategies.


Here’s a look at the top five industries that can benefit most if they can take advantage of flash storage, and the opportunities it can bring to them:



Francisco Gonzalez, CEO, BBVA, perfectly highlighted the problem the financial services industry is facing when he commented: “Banks need to take on Amazon and Google or die. The shift to digital requires a complete overhaul of banks’ technology.”


Part of that overhaul should be looking at when, and not if, flash technology is implemented into the business. With higher I/O rates, flash can help with all of the struggles financial services organizations are facing in an increasingly competitive digital world.  Take the area of risk management for example: new regulations require banks to take a relatively conservative line on their risk exposure, which determines how much of their customers’ money they can invest. Without a ‘real-time’ view of their investments’ risk exposure, banks will be at a competitive disadvantage. As such, flash has the potential to provide the capacity for large-scale analysis, and allow customers a real-time view of their market exposure, increasing the ability to invest customers’ funds and capitalize on their potential.



The retail industry is experiencing an explosion of data like never before. Competitive pressure in the retail market is at an all-time high. Incumbents are facing extreme challenges from low-price upstarts. In their campaign to fight back, the strongest weapon at their disposal is data. In a recent survey of UK decision makers, 74% of respondents from the retail sector claimed that transforming their organization’s model to meet customer requirements is the key to unlocking the next wave of growth for their organization.


Flash will help them keep real-time tabs on inventory, pricing and, deals. Without the kind of speed and I/O intensity that flash supports, it's simply more difficult to be competitive.



Online gaming and gaming through social networking sites has experienced significant growth, with more than 80 million Facebook users actively participating in social gaming, and Zynga reporting 118 million users of its most popular game, Farmville. It’s not limited to social networking though. Take Twitch for example, a service that allows users to upload, share and watch recordings made in video games online. Its growth is so rapid that it now claims the fourth-highest web traffic in America, behind only Google, Netflix, and YouTube. Video games are now played in professional competitions with huge audiences, with the best players winning fame as well.


What has allowed companies like Zynga and Twitch to experience such high level of growth? They have ensured that they consistently deliver a seamless customer experience. With improvements in latency and downtime when compared to traditional storage devices, flash delivers against this requirement.


From HD to 3D and high-quality 4K, the media and entertainment industry continues to push the boundaries of the viewer experience. At the same time, these innovations are pushing the need for storage systems capable of handling massive file sizes; a single minute of 4K shooting will typically take around 5GB of storage.


How the industry tackles this issue of storing and managing such large data sets has become such a familiar problem that it’s become the main theme in HBO’s popular Silicon Valley, a television series documenting the rise of a fictional start-up company that develops a universal compression algorithm far more powerful and efficient than anything that exists today.


While the algorithm itself may be fictional, the need to compress and de-duplicate such large files is where the benefits of flash appeals to so many businesses. With compression methods like thin provisioning, and always-on and always inline global deduplication, flash is fast becoming the de-facto standard to meeting the industry’s growing hunger for data-rich video formats.



Internet-based services such as social networks demand near-real-time access to the growing mountain of data those services access. They need the agility to move things around; for example, dynamically repositioning adverts, or providing data in real-time to advertisers with real-time bid calculations. These require high I/O rates and low levels of lag.


Given the scale of operations supporting the (hundreds of) millions of users social networks attract, the data centres of companies like Facebook and LinkedIn are so big that the benefits flash brings can have significant ramifications on the organization's operations.  


Sean Horne Bio:

Sean has spent 13 years with EMC in a variety of different roles, and currently leads the technical GTM strategy for the UK & Ireland. In addition to this role, Sean leads acts as the Senior Product Director for EMC’s Enterprise, Mid-Tier Storage, NAS, and Flash portfolio.

Sean prides himself as an ‘all things web’ evangelist. He is a strong believer in digital Darwinism and he has been referred to as a leading evangelist in developing global thinking around application based cloud object storage and Software defied Data Centers.

Sean has written and developed leading strategies for enterprise organizations in developing their personal journeys in transforming traditional legacy IT strategies.



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