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Tegile’s Zebi Arrays Meet the Seven Key Storage Requirements of the Virtualized Data Center

Many businesses are discovering that the traditional storage architecture–much of it dating from the 1980’s–is unsuited in multiple ways to the demands of todays virtualized and consolidated data center. The virtualized data center puts not just more demand, but new kinds of demand on the storage system. Tegile designed the Zebi all-flash and hybrid storage arrays specifically to address these demands and to provide the return that businesses need on their IT infrastructure investments. 
Zebi Storage Arrays enable an efficient, consolidated IT infrastructure by fulfilling the seven key storage requirements of today’s virtualized data center. Those requirements are:
  1. Capacity and Storage Efficiency
  2. Performance
  3. Compatibility 
  4. Usability
  5. Reliability
  6. Data protection 
  7. Value for money
Capacity and Storage Efficiency
Capacity requirements are as much about efficient use of storage space as they are about raw storage space. Meaningful measures of capacity and efficiency include IOPS/rack unit, IOPS/per watt, effective TB/rack unit and TB/per watt. Enhanced storage efficiency improves network, server, power, rack space and capital efficiency. The primary tools of storage efficiency include:
  • On-the-fly compression – databases, backup.
  • On-the-fly deduplication – server virtualization, VDI, unstructured files.
  • Thin provisioning
  • Space reclamation
  • Granular scalability 
Zebi arrays from Tegile Systems are built around a unique metadata handling technology–MASS™–that stores metadata on performance-optimized media and separately from the primary data. MASS accelerates all storage operations, and enables Zebi arrays to deliver in-line de-duplication, data compression and thin provisioning of primary storage. Zebi expansion arrays enable scalability up to 144 TB in increments of 18, 26 or 72 TB.
Virtualized server and desktops put a new kind of demand on storage systems. Virtualized servers have highly random read and write I/O. VDI has huge read I/O during boot and then switches to 80% write I/O–dynamics that are different from one another and from historical demand patterns. Alone or in combination with BI/analytics, database and collaboration applications, these new I/O demands defy tuning and overwhelm traditional storage.
Zebi Arrays meet the performance requirements of the virtualized data center through their MASS architecture that uses DRAM as a read cache and DRAM + SSD as a write cache. Metadata and other “hot” data continuously reside in flash memory, and are also replicated to HDD. Older/colder data eventually lives only on high-capacity HDD.
Compatibility (Connectivity, Protocol Support, APIs)
In a consolidated and virtualized data center, the more storage requirements that can be handled by a single storage system the better. Support for multiple types of connections and for both block and file protocols adds real value. Support for multiple hypervisors is important to many enterprises and service providers.
Zebi Arrays provide unified block (iSCSI and FC) and file-oriented (NFS and CIFS) storage simultaneously. Tegile’s storage systems integrate tightly into VMware managed environments through comprehensive support for VMware VAAI APIs. They also support other hypervisors.
Usability (Flexibility, Simplicity, Visibility)
Traditional storage environments are time consuming to configure and optimize, adding cost and reducing agility. Storage for the next generation data center must be quick to deploy and must handle varied loads without manual tuning. Because day-to-day management of the virtual data center is in many cases going to be handled by an IT generalist using a single tool such as vCenter, integration with 3rd party management tools is also essential.
Zebi Arrays incorporate a simplified management tool that speeds initial deployment and ongoing management. Integration with VMware vCenter means that a business can take full advantage of the sophisticated capabilities of the Zebi without spending a lot of time on training or tweaking. 
The Zebi management GUI provides application-specific wizards that enable an administrator to quickly and accurately provision storage for a new server. For example, Zebi makes it simple to define a particular LUN as backup target, virtualization store, database store, or file server store with a single click.
Once storage has been deployed, administrators can monitor key storage system performance indicators–now on a VM-aware basis. Administrators can even customize monitoring worksheets, putting their most important performance data on a single screen.
In traditional “one server, one application” environments, a storage system failure takes a critical application off-line. That is bad. In a consolidated storage environment, a storage system failure takes many critical applications off-line. That is very bad!
Zebi provides a highly reliable “no single point of failure” architecture. Redundant hot swap power supplies, fans and drives and support for global hot spares enhance Zebi reliability. The redundant controllers can be configured for active-standby or dual-active operation.
Data protection 
Enterprises, and their customers, expect 24×7 access. Traditional storage and backup systems have trouble meeting shrinking backup windows and RTO/RPO objectives because most were not designed for true 24×7 operation. Next generation storage systems must eliminate backup windows and meet RTOs and RPOs set by the business, not the IT department. 
Zebi Arrays enhance availability through unlimited snapshots that can be automated on a per-LUN basis to provide automatic conformity to RPOs. They support unidirectional, bidirectional, 1-to-n and n-to-1 replication. In multi-Zebi environments, each array can provide primary storage while simultaneously providing failover support for other Zebi arrays. 
Value for money
Businesses exist to meet the needs of their custo

mers, not to invest in storage systems. Next generation storage must meet the new requirements of the virtualized data center and dramatically reduce the complexity and cost associated with legacy storage infrastructures.

Zebi Arrays are within reach of even small enterprises with a starting cost of less than $60,000 at US List price. Assuming even modest data reductions of 3.5:1, Zebi achieves an effective storage cost of about $1/GB. Unlike many traditional storage vendors, Tegile ships its arrays with all features enabled, so there are no extra licensing fees standing in the way of realizing all the benefits that a Zebi array can bring to an organization.
Another element of value that is real–though harder to quantify–is the responsiveness of a vendor to its customers. One demonstration of Tegile’s responsiveness is the new “Flashvols” feature. 
The Zebi architecture was conceived of as a flash-first, hybrid SSD/HDD storage system. Even though a Zebi array can consistently deliver sub-2ms and even sub-1ms performance, some customers wanted to GUARANTEE that a certain data would ALWAYS be served directly from flash. Tegile complied by enabling customers to define volumes that are permanently pinned in flash memory–“Flashvols”.
The extreme I/O demands that server consolidation, virtual desktops, databases and analytics place on storage systems call for a new storage architecture. Savvy businesses are discovering that they can achieve an ROI that makes sense today and substantially improve their overall return on assets into the future by adding flash to their data center storage environment. Tegile’s Zebi Storage Arrays cost-effectively address the seven key storage system requirements of the virtualized data center and deserve serious consideration by any business that is not getting the performance it needs from its IT infrastructure.
The Zebi HA2800 took top honors in the DCIG 2013 Flash Memory Storage Array Buyer’s Guide. The Buyer’s Guide may be downloaded for no charge with registration.
Ken Clipperton

About Ken Clipperton

Ken Clipperton is a Managing Analyst at DCIG, a group of analysts with IT industry expertise who provide informed, insightful, third party analysis and commentary on IT hardware, software and services. Within the data center, DCIG has a special focus on the enterprise data storage and electronically stored information (ESI) industries.

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