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DCIG Quick Look: iXsystems TrueNAS X10 Offers an Affordable Offramp from Public Cloud Storage

For many of us, commuting in rush hour with its traffic jams is an unpleasant fact of life. But I once had a job on the outer edge of a metropolitan area. I was westbound when most were eastbound. I often felt a little sorry for the mass of people stuck in traffic as I zoomed–with a smile on my face–in the opposite direction. Today there is a massive flow of workloads and their associated storage to the public cloud. But there are also a lot of companies moving workloads off the public cloud, and their reason is cloud economics.

Cloud Economics Are Not Always Economical

In a recent conversation with iXsystems, it indicated that many of its new customers are coming to it in search of lower-than-public-cloud costs. Gary Archer, Director of Storage Marketing at iXsystems met with DCIG earlier this month to brief us on a forthcoming product. It turns out the product was not the rumored hyperconverged infrastructure appliance. Instead, he told us iXsystems was about to reach a new low as in a new low starting price and cost per gigabyte for enterprise-grade storage.

A lot of companies look at iXsystems because they want to reduce costs by migrating workloads off the public cloud. These customers find the Z-Series enterprise-grade open source storage attractive, but asked for a lower entry price and lower cost per GB.

iXsystems TrueNAS X10 is Economical by Design

To meet this demand, iXsystems chose current enterprise-grade, but not the highest-end, hardware for its new TrueNAS X10. For example, each controller features a single 6-core Intel Broadwell Xeon CPU. In an era of ever-larger DRAM caches, each X10 controller has just 32GB of ECC DRAM. Dual one-gigabit Ethernet is built in. 10 GbE is optional. Storage capacity is provided exclusively by SAS-attached hard drives. Flash memory is used, but only as cache.

The TrueNAS X10 retains all the redundancy and reliability features of the Z-Series, but at a starting price of just $5,500. A 20 TB system costs less than $10,000, and a 120 TB system costs less than $18,000 street. So, the X10 starts at $0.50/GB and ranges down to $0.15/GB. Expansion via disk shelves should drive the $/GB even lower.

iXsystems positions the TrueNAS X10 as entry-level enterprise-grade unified storage. As such, the TrueNAS X10 will make a cost-effective storage target for backups, video surveillance and file sharing workloads; but not for workloads characterized by random writes. Although iXsystems lists in-line deduplication and compression on its spec sheet, the relatively limited DRAM cache and CPU performance mean you should probably only implement deduplication with caution. By way of example, the default setting for deduplication is off.

In the TrueNAS X10, iXsystems delivers enterprise-grade storage for companies that want to save money by moving off the public cloud. The X10 will also be attractive to companies that have outgrown the performance, capacity or limited data services offered by SMB-focused NAS boxes.

The TrueNAS X10 is not for every workload. But companies with monthly public cloud bills that have climbed into the tens of thousands may find that “cloud economics” are driving them to seek out affordable on premise alternatives. Seek and ye shall find.

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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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