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DCIG All-Flash Array Buyer’s Guide will Reveal Dynamic Flash Memory Storage Marketplace

The DCIG analyst team is in the final stages of preparing a fresh snapshot of the all-flash array (AFA) marketplace. We began covering this nascent storage array category in 2012. At that time, storage appliances that permanently store data on flash memory were commonly being referred to as either flash memory storage arrays or as all-flash arrays. In the time since the publication of the DCIG 2014-15 Flash Memory Storage Array Buyer’s Guide, the storage industry has embraced the term all-flash array. For that reason the forthcoming refresh of the buyer’s guide will be called the DCIG 2015-16 All-Flash Array Buyer’s Guide.

More than terminology has changed over the last eighteen (18) months. Although we are still in the process of receiving final data updates from storage vendors, the fresh data DCIG compiled on forty-nine (49) arrays from eighteen (18) storage vendors currently shows that all-flash array vendors have substantially reduced the barriers to all-flash array adoption.

Consider the following facts drawn from comparing the 2014-15 and the 2015-16 data:

  • Flash capacity is up 2x to 4x. Compared with the arrays in the 2014-15 edition, the average raw flash memory capacity nearly quadrupled from 117 TB to 445 TB. Median and maximum raw flash memory capacities more than doubled to 88 TB and 3.9 PB per array. Effective capacity after deduplication and compression is a multiple of these numbers.
  • Flash density is up 50%. Average storage density rose 50%, from 14 TB/U to 21.5 TB/U. Median density is now 19.2 TB/U. Maximum density is 45 TB/U. These are raw flash densities; effective density is a multiple of these numbers. This means an all-flash array can store more data in less space than a traditional array. The combination of all-flash storage density and performance can result in a 10x reduction of the storage footprint in a data center.
  • Entry prices are down 50% to less than $25,000. The entry point list price is less than half what it was in 2014. Several all-flash arrays now carry a starting list price of less than $25,000, placing all-flash performance within the reach of many more businesses.
  • Majority of shipping configurations are under $250,000 list price. Among vendors that reported the list price of a typical configuration as ordered by customers, three (3) report a list price under $100,000; three (3) between $100,000 and $150,000; and thirteen (13) between $150,000 and $250,000.

Although $/GB is probably the least favorable way of evaluating flash memory costs, it is a metric familiar to many storage purchasers. Multiple vendors now claim a cost per GB—after deduplication and compression—of $2 or less. This compares favorably with traditional 15K HDD costs, though still a multiple of the cost for NL-SAS HDDs.

We are looking forward to finalizing our analysis of all-flash array features and presenting the resulting snapshot of this dynamic marketplace. We expect to release the DCIG 2015-16 All-Flash Array Buyer’s Guide by the end of this month.

The Buyer’s Guide will be available to subscribing users of the DCIG Analysis Portal. All DCIG Buyer’s Guides are currently available for download at no charge to any end-user who registers for the DCIG Analysis Portal (resellers and vendors may test drive it up for up to 30 days).

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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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