Comparing EMC, HDS and NetApp All-Flash and Hybrid block arrays

Flash has changed storage forever and almost every new array purchase needs to have some degree of flash included, so the market now offers three distinct types of array:

  • Hybrid – Exploits the performance of flash and the lower cost of HDDs
  • All-Flash hybrid – Packaged to deliver a low cost per GB of flash
  • Ground-up design – Purely designed for flash with no support for HDDs

As always there is a huge range of price points, due to the architecture, features and performance scaling, for these arrays. Efficiency features are critical in some use cases (i.e. VDI), but less so in many others and performance scaling for the majority of solutions is substantially higher than legacy arrays built just for HDDs.

Historically array performance scaling was limited to the number of HDDs that it could support (i.e. the drives were the bottleneck), with Flash the drives are so fast the bottleneck moves to the controllers. The result of this is that the entry-level arrays will not scale performance beyond 20-30 SSDs so it is very important to have an idea of your ultimate performance scaling requirements.

For most use cases today a hybrid array that has been optimised for flash is the best fit, but there are certainly workloads that need the capabilities of a ground-up all-flash design. As always your requirements and budget will dictate the best fit so let’s take a look at what EMC, HDS and NetApp have to offer:

 EMC VNXEMC XtremIOHDS HUS 100/VMNetApp FASNetApp E/EF-Series
TypeHybrid/All-Flash HybridGround-up DesignHybridHybrid/All-Flash HybridHybrid/All-Flash Hybrid
Largest Flash Drive800 GB eMLC800 GB eMLC400 GB eMLC
1.6 TB FMD (150)/3.2 TB FMD (VM)
1.6 TB eMLC1.6 TB eMLC
Replacement of drives under maintenance when write limit reachedNoYesNo (SSD)
Yes (FMD)
YesYes
FC, FCoE & iSCSIYesFC and iSCSIFC and iSCSI (100)
FC (VM)
YesFC and iSCSI (E2700)
FC or iSCSI (E5500/EF550)
Writeable SnapshotsYesYesYesYesYes
Integrated Remote ReplicationYesNoYesYesYes
EFFICIENCY FEATURES
De-duplicationOptional (Post)Always On (Inline)NoOptional (Post)No
CompressionOptional (Post)Always On (Inline)No (Inline for FMDs)Optional (Inline or Post)No
Thin ProvisioningOptionalAlways OnOptionalOptionalOptional
HYBRID FEATURES
Flash Caching of HDDsYesN/ANoYesReads (E-Series)
N/A (EF-Series)
Auto-Tiering (Up to 3 tiers)YesN/AYesNoNo (E-Series)
N/A (EF-Series)
Notes:
1. The EMC VNX All-Flash F5000 and F7000 are based on the standard hybrid VNX models, but they do not support HDDs and the efficiency features
 Controller and single tray (24/25 drives)Maximum Number of Flash DrivesMaximum Raw Flash CapacityEstimated Peak Read PerformanceEstimated Drives to Reach Peak
EMC
VNX52003U12196 TB70,000 IOPS20
VNX5400/F50003U246196 TB105,000 IOPS28
VNX56003U496396 TB140,000 IOPS37
VNX58003U746596 TB210,000 IOPS60
VNX7600/F70003U996796 TB330,000 IOPS94
VNX80008U+2U1,4961.19 PB700,000 IOPS200
XtremIO 5 TB X-Brick4U+2U133.4 TB usable250,000 IOPS13
XtremIO 10 TB (Scales to 4 X-Bricks)4U+2U258.2 TB usable per X-Brick250,000 IOPS per X-Brick25
XtremIO 20 TB (Scales to 6 X-Bricks)4U+2U2516.4 TB usable per X-Brick250,000 IOPS per X-Brick25
HDS
HUS 1102U12048 TB70,000 IOPS20
HUS 1302U360144 TB140,000 IOPS40
HUS 1503U+2U960 SSD
480 FMD
384 TB SSD
768 TB FMD
140,000 IOPS40 SSD
2 FMD
HUS VM5U+2U (24 SSD/12 FMD)128 SSD
96 FMD
51 TB SSD
308 TB FMD
800,000 IOPS228 SSD
11 FMD
NETAPP
FAS25202U (12 SSDs)84134 TB
50,000 IOPS14
FAS25522U96153 TB50,000 IOPS14
FAS80203U+2U240384 TB160,000 IOPS44
FAS80406U+2U240384 TB230,000 IOPS64
FAS80606U+2U240384 TB440,000 IOPS124
FAS8080 EX12U+2U240384 TB800,000 IOPS228
E27002U75120 TB70,000 IOPS24
E55002U120192 TB400,000 IOPS114
EF5502U120192 TB400,000 IOPS114
Notes:
1. Estimated Peak IOPS are just a guide - if more accurate numbers are required then information about the workloads (i.e. read/write split, block size and cache hits) and the efficiency features to be used will be required
2. When comparing solutions that are rated at 50,000 IOPS with another at 800,000 there is clearly a huge real world difference. Whereas when comparing solutions with 50,000 IOPS with another at 70,000 there is likely to be very little real world difference
3. In general maximum performance will be achieved with efficiency features (i.e. thin provisioning, de-dupe and compression) turned off
4. To estimate the number of flash drives to reach peak read performance 3,500 IOPS has been used for SSDs and 72,500 for FMDs
5. In a failure scenario where a controller has failed peak performance will be significantly reduced therefore it may be necessary to size based on single controller performance

Hopefully this quick summary will help you short-list possible solutions, but if you would like to delve deeper into your specific requirements and each of these technologies then our free storage infrastructure review service may be of interest.

Related Posts

  1. Comparing EMC, HDS and NetApp storage arrays – Part 1 (Block Features)
  2. Comparing EMC, HDS and NetApp storage arrays – Part 2 (NAS Features)
  3. HDS Flash Module Drive – building a better storage array SSD
  4. Independent Multi-vendor Storage Infrastructure Review
Mark Burgess has worked in IT since 1984, starting as a programmer on DEC VAX systems, then moving into PC software development using Clipper and FoxPro. From here he moved into network administration using Novell NetWare, which kicked-off his interest in storage. In 1999 he co-founded SNS, a consultancy firm initially focused on Novell technologies, but overtime Virtualisation and Storage. Mark writes a popular blog and is a frequent contributor to Twitter and other popular Virtualisation and Storage blog sites.
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About Mark Burgess

Mark Burgess has worked in IT since 1984, starting as a programmer on DEC VAX systems, then moving into PC software development using Clipper and FoxPro. From here he moved into network administration using Novell NetWare, which kicked-off his interest in storage. In 1999 he co-founded SNS, a consultancy firm initially focused on Novell technologies, but overtime Virtualisation and Storage. Mark writes a popular blog and is a frequent contributor to Twitter and other popular Virtualisation and Storage blog sites.

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