Enterprise SSDs: The Case for All-Flash Data Centers – EnterpriseStorageForum.com

An IT industry analyst article published by Enterprise Storage Forum.


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A new study found that some enterprises are experiencing significant benefits by converting their entire data centers to all-flash arrays.

by Mike Matchett, Sr. Analyst

Adding small amounts of flash as cache or dedicated storage is certainly a good way to accelerate a key application or two, but enterprises are increasingly adopting shared all-flash arrays to increase performance for every primary workload in the data center.

Flash is now competitively priced. All-flash array operations are simpler than when managing mixed storage, and the performance acceleration across-the-board produces visible business impact.

However, recent Taneja Group field research on all-flash data center adoption shows that successfully replacing traditional primary storage architectures with all-flash in the enterprise data center boils down to ensuring two key things: flash-specific storage engineering and mature enterprise-class storage features.

When looking for the best storage performance return on investment (ROI), it simply doesn’t work to replace HDDs with SSDs in existing traditional legacy storage arrays. Even though older generation arrays can be made faster in spots by inserting large amounts of underlying flash storage, there will be too many newly exposed overall performance bottlenecks to make it a worthwhile investment. After all, consistent IO performance (latency, IOPs, bandwidth) for all workloads is what makes all-flash a winning data center solution. It’s clear that to leverage a flash storage investment, IT requires flash-engineered designs that support flash IO speeds and volumes.

Even if all-flash performance is more than sufficient for some datacenter workloads, the cost per effective GB in a new flash engineered array can now handily beat sticking flash SSDs into older arrays, as well as readily undercutting large HDD spindle count solutions. A big part of this cost calculation stems from built-in wire speed (i.e. inline) capacity optimization features like deduplication and compression found in almost all flash engineered solutions. We also see increasing flash densities continuing to come to market (e.g., HPE and Netapp have already announced 16TB SSDs) with prices inevitably driving downwards. These new generations of flash are really bending flash “capacity” cost curves for the better.
All-Flash Field Research Results

Recently we had the opportunity to interview all-flash adopting storage managers with a variety of datacenter workloads and business requirements. We found that it was well understood that flash offered better performance. Once an all-flash solution was chosen architecturally, other factors like cost, resiliency, migration path and ultimately storage efficiency tended to drive vendor comparisons and acquisition decision-making. Here are a few interesting highlights from our findings:

Simplification – The deployment of all-flash represented an opportunity to consolidate and simplify heterogenous storage infrastructure and operations, with major savings just from environment simplification (e.g. reduction in number of arrays/spindles).
Consistency – The consistent IO at scale offered from an all-flash solution deployed across all tier 1 workloads greatly reduced IT storage management activities. In addition…(read the complete as-published article there)

Server Side Is Where It’s At – Leveraging Server Resources For Performance

(Excerpt from original post on the Taneja Group News Blog)

If you want performance, especially in IO, you have to bring it to where the compute is happening. We’ve recently seen Datrium launch a smart “split” array solution in which the speedy (and compute intensive) bits of the logical array are hosted server-side, with persisted data served from a shared simplified controller and (almost-JBOD) disk shelf. Now Infinio has announced their new caching solution version 3.0 this week, adding tiered cache support for server-side SSD’s and other flash to their historically memory focused IO acceleration.

…(read the full post)

Scaling All Flash to New Heights – DDN Flashscale All Flash Array Brings HPC to the Data Center

(Excerpt from original post on the Taneja Group News Blog)

It’s time to start thinking about massive amounts of flash in the enterprise data center. I mean PBs of flash for the biggest, baddest, fastest data-driven applications out there. This amount of flash requires an HPC-capable storage solution brought down and packaged for enterprise IT management. Which is where Data Domain Networks (aka DDN) is stepping up. Perhaps too quietly, they have been hard at work pivoting their high-end HPC portfolio into the enterprise space. Today they are rolling out a massively scalable new flash-centric Flashscale 14KXi storage array that will help them offer complete, comprehensive single-vendor big data workflow solutions – from the fastest scratch through the biggest throughput parallel file systems into the largest distributed object storage archives.

…(read the full post)

Excuse me, but I think your cache is showing…

(Excerpt from original post on the Taneja Group News Blog)

Everybody these days is adding flash-based SSD to their storage arrays.  Some are offering all flash storage for ultra-high performance.  And a few are popping flash storage right into the server as a very large, persistent cache.  But taking advantage of flash in these ways requires either hardware refresh or significant service disruption – or both.

GridIron offers a drop-in, non-disruptive way to immediately super-charge existing infrastructure. Their TurboCharger appliances logically plug into the middle of the SAN fabric where they can be installed (and removed) non-disruptively by taking advantage of I/O multi-pathing.  Once installed, they jump in to the data path as a virtual LUN fronting the real LUN on the back-end, providing a massive amount of SSD write-through cache that automatically adjusts to multiple workloads.  Because it’s in the SAN, TurboCharger can virtually “front” any underlying storage – even storage that is in turn further virtualized.

GridIron customers have generally faced serious data access challenges with large databases and in consolidated and virtualized environments that benefit from read-intensive IO acceleration. GridIron is now expanding its product line to help accelerate structured and unstructured “big data” access.   The OneAppliance all-Flash product line includes the FlashCube for offloading temp, log, and scratch space write-intensive workloads, and an iNode that combines massive flash and compute together for building high-performance compute clusters.

GridIron is clearly differentiating from other flash solutions in its direct and practical approach to bringing the power of flash to bear directly on the extreme data access and movement problems with big data. 

…(read the full post)