5 ways flash is transforming financial services

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Flash storage is taking the world by storm, but many companies are only now catching onto its true potential. Here’s how it is revolutionising business.

Some of the most important inventions which underpin our modern life are often the ones we don’t see. Take smartphones and tablets, for example – they’ve changed the way we live, socialise and work, but they can only do that thanks to the use of solid state storage. Superior performance enables devices to process complex tasks within a small package.

So flash storage has already revolutionised our day to day lives, but it is now doing the same for business, especially financial services. Here are just five ways it’s changing the game.

Longer lasting and more reliable systems

Solid state storage arrays are much more durable and reliable than their mechanical counterparts. Traditional disk-based storage uses a spinning disk and a robotic arm which locates the data. This can only go so quickly and is sensitive to damage; even a small amount of damage can quickly escalate into system-wide corruption. Because it’s hard to spot this damage, systems can fail with little or no warning.

Solid state flash arrays contain no moving parts and are less susceptible to damage. At the same time, they offer a reduced footprint meaning vast quantities of data can be housed within a much smaller footprint.

Faster data

The biggest driver for flash uptake is speed. Trade and market data volumes are on the up. More and more trades now come from algorithmic and electronic trading which process multiple trades every second. This, combined with new regulatory measures, increases the amount of data being analysed which in turn requires much higher computational capabilities. Demand is growing for ultra-low latency data which traditional mechanical storage is not set up to provide. Flash arrays are evolving rapidly and can deliver speed the industry needs. It’s faster and more efficient allowing I/O throughput as much as 4,000 times faster than conventional modern storage devices.

Higher performance applications

That increased speed allows financial service companies to make use of higher performance applications. Its ability to offer a persistent and fast storage capabilities creates new possibilities for high performance applications such as risk-analytics and portfolio optimisation. These require repeated random read/write access to multi-terabyte sized data sets, for which conventional storage devices would struggle. Flash offers higher data throughput and represents a perfect option.

Better data and better decisions

Flash is enhancing users’ access to data – something which is proving critical to business performance. Every year countless companies, in all industries, encounter problems because of out of date or misleading information. Surprisingly, given the high-tech nature of modern business, spreadsheets are still extremely common which can easily cause critical mistakes. Flash facilitates automation of data collection and enables users to quickly produce reports which are accurate in real-time. They can give executives an exact view of the real status of a business and enable them to make better and more informed decisions.

The cost of doing business is coming down

Innovation creates some exciting opportunities, but cost is still a major factor. Here flash – traditionally seen as more expensive – is rapidly becoming much more cost-effective. Costs are coming down at a time when performance is on the rise. For CEOs, the cost-versus reward calculation is becoming more compelling all the time. Even so, while the upfront cost is coming down, buyers will still have to consider the total cost of ownership (TCO). Gartner’s Solid-State Array TCO Reality Check calculates that it takes just 5.4 months, on average, to recover investments made in solid state arrays. Even so, there can still be many variables which buyers might not take into account. Costs arise in the time and effort of making the transition, disruption to existing practices, any teething problems and costs associated with other hardware can quickly mount up.

The business world is only really starting to get to grips with Flash. That’s partly because the cost of systems are only just making it worthwhile, and performance is now reaching the standards it needs. Different types of solutions will also suit different types of businesses – and understanding how to implement a system in a way which most benefits an organisation is quite a challenge. However, it’s one which gives companies in financial services a critical competitive edge.