ByJames Petter, EMEA VP of Pure Storage

Many businesses know that rapid insight gives them a huge advantage over competitors – but a lack of time, cash and expertise holds them back from using Business Intelligence, Analytics and Big Data tools. There’s been plenty of hype – but these things are still unavailable to most organisations.

In the meantime, businesses are gathering more and more complex data. The information collected by store card programmes is one such example. These data points offer retailers the chance to understand shopper habits and overall buying patterns – but only if that data can be sifted through and processed quickly enough to give insight in enough time to act.

IDC has predicted that the amount of data will increase by more than 50 percent each year over the next few years. It recommended that all data centres should have flash deployed in at least some capacity today and should be strategically considering how best to leverage it going forward.

Faster storage can have some surprising business impacts, like a global medical device manufacturer, which used faster and more in-depth inventory analytics to reduce inventory on-hand by five days, resulting in savings expected to exceed $100M by deploying FlashArray. It can also help businesses be more innovative and create new services, like SurveyMonkey who used the FlashArray to help introduce a new survey product with never before accessible analytics for a competitive advantage.

Getting rapid business insight can make the difference between a missed opportunity and a huge gain. If you’re a food or fashion retailer, it can make the difference between having enough flip flops and ice cream in stock to meet demand during a heatwave, or missing the boat. Spotting sudden surges of interest in a product – or even anticipating which are going to be the hot tickets and planning ahead – can equal incremental success.

Retailers know that inside the sales and distribution data for each day’s trading lies valuable insight. But because it takes a long time to process this information, they can’t get that insight in enough time to act on it. This is a standard problem across all industries; the scale of the data they handle is increasing rapidly, possibly far faster than their IT budgets can cope with.

French fashion retailer Kiabi, is a great example of this. The team there cut its database batch processing from 24 hours to four and made its Informatica database gallop, rather than merely run. And it has achieved this with its existing business intelligence and database software. All that’s changed is the storage it’s running on. The company has moved from hard disk arrays to all flash - and it’s done it simply, affordably and quickly.

The most common misconception is that all-flash storage in the enterprise is unaffordable. Thanks to a range of deduplication, compression and other data reduction methods, flash storage solutions can be offered at more affordable prices. Therefore, the costs per gigabyte can therefore be significantly lower compared to disk storage.

Storage arrays no longer need to consume so much of companies’ datacentre space and power, with new technology allowing arrays shrink from the size of a fridge-freezer to a microwave oven, and reducing the power usage of ten residential homes down to one toaster oven. Savings in IT can fee up even more budget to invest in innovation, take Sierra Nevada brewery, for example. It saved over $200,000 by reducing data centre space by 50% and power by 90%, all while transforming their IT organisation into a cloud architecture.

In the decade ahead, flash memory will push hard drives out of the latency path of performance-intensive applications. On the consumer side, the transition to all flash storage is well underway with the proliferation of smart phones and tablets; we will increasingly see this same transition in the enterprise.

Technology such as All Flash Arrays is vital for ensuring business applications run faster improving; yields, employee productivity, and customer and partner experiences, allowing them to make smarter decisions and increase innovation across their organisations.