Almost any article published today related to enterprise data storage will talk about the benefits of flash memory. However, while many organizations now use flash in their enterprise, most are only now starting to use it at a scale where they use it to host more than a handful of their applications. As organizations look to deploy flash more broadly in their enterprises, here are six best practices to keep in mind as they do so.
The exhibit halls at the annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas always contain eye-popping displays highlighting recent technological advances as well as what is coming down the path in the world of media and entertainment. But behind NAB’s glitz and glamour lurks a hard, cold reality; every word recorded, every picture taken, and every scene filmed must be stored somewhere, usually multiple times, and available at a moment’s notice. It is these halls at the NAB show that DCIG visited where it identified two start-ups with storage technologies poised to disrupt business as usual.
Non-volatile Memory Express (NVMe) has captured the fancy of the enterprise storage world. Implementing NVMe on all-flash arrays or hyper-converged infrastructure appliances carries with it the promise that companies can leverage these solutions to achieve sub-millisecond response times, drive millions of IOPS, and deliver real-time application analytics and transaction processing. But differences persist between what NVMe promises for these solutions and what it can deliver. Here is a practical look at NVMe delivers on these solutions in early 2018.
Next-generation all-flash arrays will provide dramatic improvements in performance and density over the prior generation of all-flash arrays. These new levels of performance and density will bring the benefits of real-time analysis to a whole new set of problems and organizations, creating tremendous value. They will also enable organizations to achieve significant budget savings through a fresh wave of data center consolidations. But unlocking the ability of any next-generation array to deliver these savings depends on a key set of features that enable workload consolidation and simplified management.
A few years ago when all-flash arrays (AFAs) were still gaining momentum, newcomers like Nimbus Data appeared poised to take the storage world by storm. But as the big boys of storage (Dell, HDS, and HPE, among others,) entered the AFA market, Nimbus opted to retrench and rethink the value proposition of its all-flash arrays. Its latest AFA models, the ExaFlash D-Series, is one of the outcomes of that repositioning as these arrays answer the call of today’s hosting providers. These arrays deliver the high levels of availability, flexibility, performance, and storage density that they seek backed by one of the lowest cost per GB price points in the market.
In today’s enterprise data centers, when one thinks performance, one thinks flash. That’s great. But that thought process can lead organizations to think that “all-flash arrays” are the only option they have to get high levels of performance for their applications. That thinking is now so outdated. The latest server-based storage solution from Datrium illustrates how accelerating application performance just became insanely easy by simply clicking a button versus resorting to upgrading some hardware in their environment.
On March 17, 2015, the Storage Performance Council (SPC) updated its “Top Ten” list of SPC-2 results that includes performance metrics going back almost three (3) years to May 2012. Noteworthy in these updated results is that the three storage arrays ranked at the top are, in order, a high end mainframe-centric, monolithic storage array (the HP XP7, OEMed from Hitachi), an all-flash storage array (from startup Kaminario, the K2 box) and a hybrid storage array (Oracle ZFS Storage ZS4-4 Appliance). Making these performance results particularly interesting is that the hybrid storage array, the Oracle ZFS Storage ZS4-4 Appliance, can essentially go toe-to-toe from a performance perspective with both the million dollar HP XP7 and Kaminario K2 arrays and do so at approximately half of their cost.
Flash is by all estimates the future of enterprise production storage with most enterprises anticipating a day in the not too distant future where they will use flash storage arrays (all-flash or hybrid) much more broadly within their data center. Yet despite flash’s many benefits (higher levels of performance, smaller data center footprint and reduced energy consumption among others,) many enterprises still only use flash in a limited capacity if they use it at all. Today I take a look at some of the factors that still contribute to an enterprise reticence to adopt flash more broadly.
Dedicating a single flash-based storage array to improving the performance of a single application may be appropriate for siloed or small SAN environments. However this is NOT an architecture that enterprises want to leverage when hosting multiple applications in larger SAN environments, especially if the flash-based arrays has only a few or unproven data management services behind it. The new Oracle FS1 Series Flash Storage System addresses these concerns by providing enterprises both the levels of performance and the mature and robust data management services that they need to move flash-based arrays from the fringes of their SAN environments into their core.
A couple of weeks ago I attended the Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara, CA, where I had the opportunity to talk to a number of providers, fellow analysts and developers in attendance about the topic of flash memory. The focus of many of these conversations was less about what flash means right now as its performance ramifications are already pretty well understood by the enterprise. Rather many are already looking ahead to take further advantage of flash’s particular idiosyncrasies and, in so doing, give us some good insight into what will be hot in flash in the years to come.
As I attended sessions at Microsoft TechEd 2014 last week and talked with people in the exhibit hall a number of themes emerged including “mobile first, cloud first”, hybrid cloud, migration to the cloud, disaster recovery as a service, and flash memory storage as a game-changer in the data center. But as I reflect on the entire experience, a statement made John Loveall, Principal Program Manager for Microsoft Windows Server during one of his presentations sums up to overall message of the conference, “Today it is really all about the integrated solution.”
Toward the end of April Wikibon’s David Floyer posted an article on the topic of server SANs entitled “The Rise of Server SANs” which generated a fair amount of attention and was even the focus of a number of conversations that I had at this past week’s Symantec Vision 2014 conference in Las Vegas. However I have to admit, when I first glanced at some of the forecasts and charts that were included in that piece, I thought Wikibon was smoking pot and brushed it off. But after having had some lengthy conversations with attendees at Symantec Vision, I can certainly see why Wikibon made some of the claims that it did.
VMware® VMmark® has quickly become a performance benchmark to which many organizations turn to quantify how many virtual machines (VMs) they can realistically expect to host and then perform well on a cluster of physical servers. Yet a published VMmark score for a specified hardware configuration may overstate or, conversely, fail to fully reflect the particular solution’s VM consolidation and performance capabilities. The HP ProLiant BL660c published VMmark performance benchmarks using a backend HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 all-flash array provide the relevant, real-world results that organizations need to achieve maximum VM density levels, maintain or even improve VM performance as they scale and control costs as they grow.
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.
Many changes have taken place in the data center storage marketplace in the 14 months since the release of the inaugural DCIG 2013 Flash Memory Storage Array Buyer’s Guide. This blog entry highlights a few of those changes based on DCIG’s research for the forthcoming DCIG 2014-15 Flash Memory Storage Array Buyer’s Guide.
In this final blog entry from our interview with Nimbus Data CEO and Founder Thomas Isakovich, we discuss his company’s latest product, the Gemini X-series. We explore the role of the Flash Director and how it Gemini X-series appeals to enterprises as well as cloud service providers.
In this second blog entry from our interview with Nimbus Data CEO and Founder Thomas Isakovich, we discuss microsecond latencies and how the recently announced Gemini X-series scale-out all-flash platform performs against the competition.
Providing high levels of capacity is only relevant if a storage array can also deliver high levels of performance. The number of CPU cores, the amount of DRAM and the size of the flash cache are the key hardware components that most heavily influence the performance of a hybrid storage array. In this second blog entry in my series examining the Oracle ZS3 Series storage arrays, I examine how its performance compares to that other leading enterprise storage arrays using published performance benchmarks.
Recognized as an innovator in storage system technology, Thomas Isakovich sat down with DCIG to discuss the development, capabilities, and innovation in Nimbus Data’s latest release: the Gemini X. In this first blog entry, he guides us through the development of the X-series, and where he sees it fitting into the current market.
Some claim that all-flash memory and/or solid state drive (SSD) storage arrays will become the silver bullets that solve all of today’s challenges with enterprise storage arrays. Those closer to the manufacturing of storage arrays have a much different viewpoint as they see a long and healthy life ahead for traditional spinning media. In this third installment in DCIG’s interview series with iXsystem’s CTO Jordan Hubbard, he discusses how hybrid storage arrays hit the sweet spot for the storage needs of most organizations.