All Flash Array Buying Guide, Part Two

Posted on April 14, 2016 By Drew Robb

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International Data Corp places the value of the solid state storage market at $1.6 billion – not bad for an industry that was worth only $0.3 billion in 2012. Its rapid growth has spawned a continuous stream of innovation from a rich vendor ecosystem.

As a result, we couldn’t cram everyone into our first All Flash Array (AFA) Buying Guide. In fact, we aren’t going to manage it in this one either. But here are a few more of the top AFA candidates:

Violin Memory

The Violin Flash Storage Platform (FSP) 7250 has capacities ranging from 8.8 TB to 26 TB. It features always-on deduplication and compression, as well as a pay-as-you-grow capacity licensing program. In addition, it comes with plenty of DR and data protection bells and whistles: synchronous replication, remote asynchronous replication, automated DR management, WAN optimized replication, snapshots, LUN mirroring and integration with backup apps.

For those wanting higher performance in less space, the Violin FSP 7600 has 140 TB of raw capacity and can deliver a million IOPS in less than 500 microseconds (ms). There is also the FSP 7700, which supports stretch clustering. You can take an FSP 7700 and put it in New York, for example, and the have another one in Newark, NJ, and everything that is written to one array is simultaneously written to the other as a real-time mirror image.

“If there is a power outage in NY, the one in NJ will stay online and nobody notices a difference,” said Keith Parker, director of product marketing at Violin Memory. “But if you take that one in NJ and replicate it to a site in California, it provides asynchronous replication that is close to a real-time system.”

Nimble AF-Series

Nimble’s all flash storage platform with InfoSight predictive analytics is designed for performance, scalability and availability. The flagship Nimble AF9000 delivers up to 350,000 IOPS at sub-millisecond latency and scales effective capacity to over 2 PB in 12U of rack space. It can also scale-out to a four-node cluster for a grand total of 1.2 million IOPS and 8 PB.

Pre-configuration eliminates the need for selecting RAID-level, media layout, aggregations and reserves. Result: setup can be completed in less than two hours. InfoSight VMVision and VMware vVols monitoring features also simplify virtualization management. Dan Leary, vice president of products and alliances at Nimble, said pricing for the entry level AF3000 starts at just over $100,000.

American Megatrends

American Megatrends (AMI) offers the StorTrends 3600i and 3610i AFAs, which come with deduplication and compression software, as well as thin provisioning, data tiering and caching, replication and QoS. There is a choice of solid state drives, optimized for either read or write performance. AMI can split these into separate tiers in its systems as a way to boost performance and increase drive duration. If a user environment has more reads or more writes, its environment is configured appropriately with the right mix of drives.

“The StorTrends 3600i and 3610i All-Flash Arrays are priced at or lower than most hybrid storage arrays,” said Justin Bagby, director of the StorTrends division at AMI.

SanDisk

SanDisk offers all kinds of flash products from solid state drives to memory sticks. Its InfiniFlash System is an appliance that packs 500 TB and one million random read IOPS into 3U. It comes with data reduction and contains the core technology of Fusion-io, a company SanDisk gobbled up. Rather than being a product for the everyday enterprise, Jim Handy, an analyst with Objective Analysis, said that SanDisk’s InfiniFlash is designed for the hyperscale data center.

HGST Ultrastar SN100

HGST, which is part of Western Digital, offer its NVMe-compliant Ultrastar SN100 Series PCIe SSDs with mission-critical data center workloads being the target market. Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) includes persistent memory such as NAND flash and other forms of solid state storage. NVM express (NVMe) is a server storage I/P protocol alternative to SATA and SAS. The point of NVMe is that it lowers queuing dramatically, raises bandwidth availability and lowers the quantity of CPU that can be used to handler more IO. HGST has beaten many to market with this solid state/NVMe combo.

In addition, the SN100 is combined with server software such as the HGST Flash Software Suite and HGST Device Manager to add higher performance, clustering, scalability, high availability and manageability. It can deliver 310,000 I/O IOPS for mixed read/write workloads. By using standard NVMe drivers, it takes advantage of the benefits of PCIe without requiring vendor drivers. It is available in a half-height, half-length add-in card or in a hot-swappable 2.5-inch small form factor drive. Both provide up to 3.2 TB.

Tegile

Tegile combines its IntelliFlash technology with solid state storage, Intel Xeon processors and either high-speed Ethernet or Fibre Channel. Its AFAs are said to be purpose-built for application workloads such as Oracle server virtualization, virtual desktops (VDI), online transaction processing (OLTP) and real-time analytics. The IntelliFlash HD AFA is aimed at large enterprises aggressively consolidating data centers. When several units are combined, it can provide up to 5 million IOPS and 10 PB of effective capacity in one rack. Pricing is said to be under 50 cents per effective GB.

NetApp All Flash FAS (AFF) 8000 Series

NetApp’s AFF 8000 has a full complement of data protection, synchronous replication, application integration, SAN and NAS support, native snapshots for the cloud, in-line deduplication and compression. Entry level prices starts at $25,000.

“With new flash pricing and storage efficiencies, it is just a matter of time until flash is used in place of disk for all but the largest capacity installations,” said Lee Caswell, vice president of product, solutions and services marketing at NetApp.

SolidFire

SolidFire may now be part of NetApp, but it continues to retain its identity. Its SF9605 AFA offers 34.5TB effective capacity and 50,000 IOPS. Powered by the Element Operating System, it is designed to consolidate mixed workloads, in-line data reduction and system automation.

“The SF605 meets the needs of customers where scale-out capacity is a primary requirement,” said Jeramiah Dooley, principal flash architect at SolidFire. “Enterprises have the ability to incrementally add performance and capacity resources as business needs dictate. In addition, its volume-level quality-of-service (QoS) controls guarantee performance to thousands of applications from a single, shared infrastructure.”

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.


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