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Logo for 2014-15 DCIG Flash Memory Storage Array

DCIG is pleased to announce the March 30 release of the DCIG 2014-15 Flash Memory Storage Array Buyer’s Guide that weights, scores and ranks more than 130 features of thirty-nine (39) different storage arrays from twenty (20) different storage providers.

Flash Memory Array Performance and Sales Rising Rapidly

Flash Memory Storage Arrays promise to deliver the dramatic performance benefits of flash memory including hundreds of thousands to millions of IOPS with sub-millisecond latencies while using as little as 1/10th the rack space, power and cooling of traditional enterprise storage arrays. The most recent generation of flash memory storage arrays generally deliver twice the IOPS of the prior generation and deliver a more complete set of features that enables them to address a broader set of use cases. Although enterprise storage professionals are traditionally cautious about adopting new technologies, many all-flash array vendors report that sales are growing in excess of 100% per year.

Flash Memory Storage Arrays Now Replacing Traditional Enterprise Arrays

Multiple vendors we spoke with indicated that prospective customers are now looking to do a complete tier 1 storage refresh; transitioning to an all-flash environment for their critical business applications. Reflecting this trend, International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts “capacity shipped in 2016 will increase to 611PB [petabyte] with a 2012–2016 CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 110.8%”.

Driver #1: IT Budget Savings

For those with a responsibility for the technology budget, a flash-storage-enabled rethinking of the data center can generally achieve hard cost savings of over 30% in data center hardware and software, and realize an ROI of less than 11 months.2 In some cases, the Flash Memory Storage Array may prove less expensive than just the maintenance cost of the former SAN.

Driver #2: Accelerating the Enterprise

Flash-based storage systems typically create a seven-fold improvement in application performance. This accelerated performance is enabling progress on initiatives that were hampered by storage that could not keep up with business requirements. Savvy business people are finding many ways to generate business returns that make the flash storage investment easy to justify. In one case study the installation of a flash memory storage system was directly attributed with avoiding the need to hire between 10 and 40 additional employees. Flash storage enabled the company to grow their business without growing their head count.

About the DCIG 2014-15 Flash Memory Storage Array Buyer’s Guide

The plethora of vendors and products in the all-flash array marketplace–combined with a lack of readily available comparative data–can make product research and selection a daunting task. DCIG creates Buyer’s Guides in order to help end users accelerate the product research and selection process–driving cost out of the research process while simultaneously increasing confidence in the results.

The DCIG 2014-15 Flash Memory Storage Array Buyer’s Guide achieves the following objectives:

  • Provides an objective, third party evaluation of hybrid storage arrays that evaluates and scores their features from an end user’s perspective
  • Ranks each array in each scoring category and then presenting these results in an easy to understand table
  • Provides a standardized data sheet for each of the arrays so users may do quick side-by-side comparisons of products
  • Provides insights into what features the arrays offer to optimize integration into VMware environments, as well as support for other hypervisors and operating systems
  • Provides insight into which features will result in improved performance
  • Gives any organization a solid foundation for getting competitive bids from different providers that are based on “apples-to-apples” comparisons

The DCIG 2014-15 Flash Memory Storage Array Buyer’s Guide Top 10 solutions include (in alphabetical order):

Hitachi Data Systems HUS VM
HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 Storage
NetApp FAS3250 Series AFA
NetApp FAS6290 Series AFA
Nimbus Data Gemini F400
Nimbus Data Gemini F600
PureStorage FA-400 Series Controller
SolidFire SF6010
SolidFire SF9010
Tegile Zebi HA2800

The Nimbus Data Gemini F600 earned the Best-in-Class ranking among all Flash Memory Storage Arrays in this buyer’s guide. The Gemini F600 multiprotocol unified all-flash storage system stood out in the following ways:

  • Captured the highest score in the Management & Software as well as Hardware categories, and scored near the top in VMware Integration. In addition to excellent VMware integration, the Gemini F600 is one of just a handful of arrays supporting Microsoft System Center (SCVMM SMAPI), Microsoft Offloaded Data Transfer (ODX), and SMB 3.0.
  • Raw flash storage density of 24 TB per rack unit, scalable to 1PB in a 42U cluster. This raw flash density was exceeded by only two other arrays in this guide.
  • The already high flash storage density is further enhanced through comprehensive flash optimization support, including lossless in-line deduplication and compression.
  • One of the few arrays supporting 56 Gb FDR InfiniBand and 40 Gigabit Ethernet , the fastest and lowest latency interfaces for host connectivity.

Nimbus Data claims that the Gemini F600 can deliver up to 1 million 4K write IOPS and 2 million 4K read IOPS with latencies of approximately 50 microseconds; at a 35% lower cost compared to the prior generation. The Gemini F600 starts under US$80,000, and typically sells for between $150,000 and $250,000 as configured by customers.

Flash Memory Storage Arrays Are a Systemic Business Opportunity

The purchase of a Flash Memory Storage Array will be most easily justified and have the greatest benefit in businesses that think this through as a systemic opportunity. Many who do so will discover that “Flash is free.” That is, the return on investment within the IT budget will be rapid, and the business benefits of accelerating all enterprise applications could truly present an opportunity to accelerate the enterprise.

The DCIG 2014-15 Flash Memory Storage Array Buyer’s Guide is immediately available through the DCIG analyst portal for subscribing users by following this link.

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Ken Clipperton

About Ken Clipperton

Ken Clipperton is the Lead Analyst for Storage 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.

5 Comments

  • Whenever DCIG publishes a new DCIG Buyer’s Guide it generates a number of questions. We developed a FAQ that seeks to provide answers to those questions and explain why we do the things we do–and why we don’t do some things that initially seem like a good idea. The FAQ is available at https://www.dcig.com/2013/02/dcig-buyers-guide-faq.html.

  • Adam Provost says:

    Greetings, Did you actually test any these array’s or any of the claimed capabilities they state? Would be helpful to see actual testing data and performance information as well.

    Regards,
    Adam

    • Adam,

      Thank you for your question. DCIG does not bring in products for actual testing as part of the Buyer’s Guide process for a variety of reasons. I will address one of those reasons here.

      The Buyer’s Guide is not intended to be a substitute for in-house testing. A proof of concept implementation in a business’s own data center is an important part of validating a vendor’s claims, how well a product implements the features that are important to a particular business, and how well a product addresses the particular challenges that motivated a the business to consider a purchase in the first place. Even if DCIG did bring products in for testing, our testing could not address these important considerations.

      The primary role of a DCIG Buyer’s Guide is to accelerate the early research phase of a buying decision by identifying all the participants/products in a marketplace, collecting data about those products and then creating standardized data sheets to enable quick “side-by-side” feature comparisons.

      Each DCIG Buyer’s Guide is useful in reducing the amount of time required to get to a short list of products that warrant a closer look.

  • […] not know is that Tegile is a player in the all-flash business too.  We just won a top-five spot in DCIG’s all-flash buyer’s guide.  I believe the number five spot is actually very good for our flagship all-flash array – the […]

  • […] points. The key starting point is understanding exactly what your needs are. When we developed the DCIG Buyer’s Guide for Flash Memory Storage Arrays, we looked at flash as a replacement for the enterprise-array. That meant certain features, like […]

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