Which All-flash Architecture do you prefer?

The title of this entry, “Which All-flash Architecture Do You Prefer?”, was actually a question asked on the LinkedIn group, “Storage: SAN, NAS“, a couple of days ago. It was in response to a recent post by Calvin Zito @HPStorageGuy that was also discussing the importance of good architecture design. It was a great question that I responded to right away and below is a more organized version of my response.

When I am asked what storage, backup or flash architecture I prefer, the first answer is nearly always “it depends”. The determining factor may be “does it matter?”. In other words, do you require enough performance to push any flash architecture hard enough? In many cases, the answer is going to be “no”. Now this may not get you a lot of free vendor lunches, but it will save your IT budget.

For example, if you need less than 50k IOPS, and that encompasses a lot of data centers, than the architecture, at least from a flash performance perspective, probably doesn’t matter at all. The exception would be if you need somewhat high performance, and you need a lot of capacity. Then the scalability, in terms of capacity, of the all-flash architecture matters. The type of data also has an impact on the architecture. For example, if your data is highly redundant, like it would be in a virtual environment, then some of that capacity scale concern is diminished. But it is replaced with the concern over the integrity of the deduplication engine. As stated above, your environment has a lot to say about what the best flash architecture is for your environment.

If you need more then 70k IOPS then the architecture starts to matter. The first thing to ask is if those IOPS are from a single workload or multiple workloads: that matters. Some scale-out architectures are limited on their per workload or per volume performance capabilities. If that 70k+ is spread out across dozens (hundreds) of workloads, then an architecture that can scale to meet a variety of workload types and deliver consistent parallel performance matters.

The Flash Purchasing Reality

What I find is that most all-flash systems are initially bought to solve one specific problem. Generally, but not always, it solves that problem. Let’s call that phase 1. Once phase 1 is complete and proclaimed a success, then phase 2 starts. Which typically means more workloads are added to that flash array and the phase 1 flash architecture sometimes breaks down. It either can’t meet the overall performance or capacity demand, the mixture of workloads, or affordably deliver capacity. In some cases, phase 2 of flash adoption requires a fork-lift upgrade of the original array.

In the end, you need to keep two types of goals in mind. First solve the first problem, that is the one that people are hounding you about. But try to solve the first problem while keeping in mind the additional workloads that may also get installed on the flash array. In short, look for an architecture that can scale small, scale up AND scale out.

For more information:

As usual, we have covered all sides of the debate.

Below is an article that discussed the advantages of a scale up architecture:

Scale Out or Scale Up? 6 Key Considerations for the Flash Array Buyer

This is an article where we covered the advantages of a scale out architectures:

What Is The Role For Scale-Out All-Flash Storage?

Here is the article that we wrote which covers some of the topics we discussed in the video that Calvin mentions:

All-Flash Architectures Matter

Finally, our most recent post covers a trend I think we will see more of. Architectures that can scale up and scale out. These allow you to start small and then scale big as you broaden the flash use case:

Understanding All-Flash Architectures – Assessing the right fit for your Data Center and Workloads

One More Thing

Stay tuned as we begin to announce cities for our workshop “Designing a Flash Strategy for 2015“. An intensive workshop where you will walk away with a specific flash strategy for your data center. If you want to make sure we come to your city, leave a comment.

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Eleven years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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3 comments on “Which All-flash Architecture do you prefer?
  1. Sam says:

    great points altogether, you just received a
    new reader. What might you suggest about your post that you just made some days ago?
    Any sure?

  2. Sik Silk says:

    Excellent post. I’m facing a few of these issues as well..

  3. Drill says:

    Fine way of telling, and pleasant piece of writing to get data regarding
    my presentation focus, which i am going to convey in academy.

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