An introduction to PernixData FVP – turn your existing storage into an “All-Flash Array”

Flash is changing the storage landscape and as we move from SLC to eMLC and then onto 3D TLC the cost per TB is plummeting, but it is important to point out that even the cheapest forms of flash are no match for a NL-SAS HDD when it comes to cost per TB. The all-flash Data Centre is therefore still not a reality for the foreseeable future, but for any application that will benefit from increased performance the cost per IO of Flash is unbeatable. So introducing Flash is inevitable for the majority of organisations, but the challenge for many is that they have existing storage arrays that still have many years of serviceable life, so do they: Add SSDs to their Continue reading

Comparing the new NetApp AFF8000 series with EMC XtremIO 4.0

NetApp has just announced the AFF (All-Flash FAS) series of flash optimised arrays which has been tuned exclusively for Flash (HDDs are not supported). Included with the new models is an updated version of Clustered Data ONTAP (8.3.1) which adds Inline Compression with near-zero impact on system performance. At the same time EMC has announced XtremIO 4.0, this is a key release as it adds double disk protection, non-disruptive cluster expansion and native replication (with support for RecoverPoint). So how do these products compare? In many ways you would assume that this would be an easy win for XtremIO as it is a “ground-up” flash design, what is interesting is that in many ways the products are remarkably similar – the All-Flash Array market is really Continue reading

Does the All-Flash Array really make sense?

I think the answer to the question has to be yes, but I would caveat this by stating that I believe it is going to be a very unique use case. The better question is – does the All-Flash LUN/Datastore make sense? The answer to this question is yes and not just to a small part of the market, I think today most organisations could justify a small amount of All-Flash. Let’s explore this in more detail starting with a definition of the different storage workloads: Tier 1 – Ultra high IOPS with peak latency under 1 ms Arrays that have been designed from the ground-up for Flash ironically are not as good as you would think in this category, the reason for Continue reading

EMC, HDS & NetApp Storage Portfolio Videos now available on YouTube

As well as being one of the most expensive, your storage infrastructure is likely to be the single most critical element of your physical and virtualised IT environment. While CPU, RAM and Network resources can directly affect the performance of some of your systems, poorly sized or badly integrated storage, will damage the performance of ALL your systems and may render servers and services unusable. So it’s always worth taking the time to understand the storage that’s available and digging a little deeper to ensure it’s going to deliver great performance and good value for money. To start the ball rolling, we’ve provided three short videos that give a quick introduction to the storage offerings available from the three major storage Continue reading

An introduction to VMware Virtual SAN Software-Defined Storage technology

Over the past decade VMware has changed the way IT is provisioned through the use of Virtual Machines, but if we want a truly Software-Defined Data Centre we also need to virtualise the storage and the network. For storage virtualisation VMware has introduced Virtual SAN and Virtual Volumes (expected to be available in 2015), and for network virtualisation NSX. In this, the first of a three part series, we will take a look at Virtual SAN (VSAN). So why VSAN? Large Data Centres, built by the likes of Amazon, Google and Facebook, utilise commodity compute, storage and networking hardware (that scale-out rather than scale-up) and a proprietary software layer to massively drive down costs. The economics of IT hardware tend to be the inverse of Continue reading

Managing Education … in a Flash!

I’ve had the privilege of working with a number of education institutions over the past fourteen years. In that time, through the progress of Virtual Learning Environments, Interactive Smart Boards and BYOD there has always been one piece of the IT puzzle in academia that has required extra attention and resources. I speak of course about the Management Information System. Be it Unit-e, SIMS or EBS running on Microsoft SQL or Oracle, it is the core information system that tracks the life-cycle of the learner. The MIS also provides a framework for managing curriculum portfolios and feeds assessment information and outcomes into data warehouses. And, as you are no doubt aware, accurate and timely returns are crucial to securing the correct levels Continue reading

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 Continue reading

What are the key features of a NetApp FAS storage platform?

Whereas the vast majority of storage arrays are block based, NetApp has taken a different approach – their main storage platform (FAS) uses a file layout to power a range of features (including integrated backup, de-duplication, and truly unified block and NAS) that their competitors struggle to compete with. Let’s take a quick look at the technologies that make FAS so unique: WAFL (Write Anywhere File Layout) Whether you are creating a block LUN to present using FC, iSCSI or FCoE, or an NFS or CIFS file system they both use the WAFL “file system” – WAFL then powers all of the capabilities discussed below. RAID-DP WAFL optimally writes data using large RAID stripes which avoids the small block random Continue reading

HDS Flash Module Drive – building a better storage array SSD

One of the advantages that HDS has over its competitors is that the storage division is part of a much larger organisation. Hitachi is one of the world’s largest integrated electronics companies which enables HDS to build highly optimised purpose-built storage controllers. For their block storage arrays ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits) are used to perform RAID processing and for their NAS nodes FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) are used for data transport – in both cases multi-core CPUs are used for the data management functions. Whereas their competitors are using 3rd party eMLC SSDs HDS have created the Flash Module Drive (FMD) which has the following key features: Multi-core, high-bandwidth architecture drives up to 128 flash chips Inline write compression extends life Continue reading

Introducing EMC’s all-flash array – XtremIO

EMC announced last May that they had acquired XtremIO and over the last 18 months they have been working with numerous customers to get the product ready for general release – that time has now come. So what does XtremIO bring to the table and has it been worth the wait? Key Features Scale-out architecture 1, 2 or 4 X-Bricks with N-way active/active access to LUNs Even distribution of blocks across all SSDs and controllers 40Gbs Infiniband RDMA Fabric Dual controllers per X-Brick with no SPOF Dual 8-core CPUs and 256GB RAM per controller Dual 10GbE (Optical/Twinax) and 8Gbs FC ports per controller 25 x 400GB eMLC SSDs per X-Brick (7.5TB usable) Shared in-memory metadata 100% performance Thin LUNs Battery Continue reading