SolidFire lowers Entry Point for Cloud-scale, All-flash Arrays

SolidFire is the all-flash array manufacturer that came to market with a scale-out storage system tailored for large-scale multi-tenant environments. These systems offered guaranteed performance, high availability, automated management and a strong efficiency story, based on the advantages that all-flash had over spinning disk arrays. Now SolidFire has added two new storage modules that have cut the entry price point in half, making their technology appeal to a broader set of performance workloads and enterprise environments, while still leveraging their ability to scale with mixed nodes and upgrade non-disruptively.

What’s new

SolidFire has added two new nodes to their line of scale-out, all-flash storage systems. These are 1U, 10-drive, SSD modules that generate 50,000 IOPS each, at a lower capacity point than was possible with the company’s existing products. The SF2405 and SF4805 feature 240GB and 480GB MLC drives respectively, for a total effective capacity of 8.6TB and 17TB per node. A minimum four-node configuration can now start at 35TB of iSCSI or FC-connected capacity, providing 200,000 IOPS for less than $100,000, according to published prices.

What this means

This smaller node lowers the entry point for SolidFire clusters, from a capacity and cost perspective, extending the product range to include more use cases. This can make it more appealing for smaller environments but also enables SolidFire’s systems to fit the buying pattern that’s emerging for all-flash array, even in larger companies.

So far, companies aren’t typically buying all-flash arrays to support consolidation. Instead, many all-flash implementations are essentially ‘point solutions’, bought to address a performance problem with a specific application or environment, like a production database or a heavy analytics application. SolidFire’s architecture makes it possible to turn that ‘point solution’ into a multiple-use infrastructure.

Mixed node support

SolidFire uses a common hardware configuration across its product line, making it easier to mix and match nodes in the same cluster. But the primary reason for this capability is SolidFire’s data architecture, which enables the system to manage capacity and performance as separate resource pools. This allows the storage operating system to seamlessly fold in additional capacity, regardless of the nodes involved.

Seamless scalability

The architecture supports non-disruptive scaling, allowing new nodes to be added to an existing cluster, lowering the effective cost per GB and per IOP, without impacting currently stored data. SolidFire’s architecture also provides seamless (and painless) firmware upgrades which enables the company to roll out new software versions more frequently, delivering new features at a faster pace and making incremental changes between versions that are easier on administrators.

From a use-case perspective, this ability to start small and expand quickly, without disruption, means companies can buy a smaller capacity all-flash array to satisfy an immediate need, and take advantage of funding that’s often more readily available for certain areas within the company. But then, they can add more capacity to the cluster to support another use case when that need arises, instead of buying another all-flash array.

StorageSwiss Take

SolidFire has established itself as a popular all-flash solution for large, high-performance environments with their ability to provide seamless scalability and advanced multi-tenancy functions. But enterprises buy differently than large cloud providers do. As mentioned above, companies are frequently buying flash solutions for a specific use case or application, using flash as a ‘tactical’ solution, not as part of a consolidation strategy.

Now, SolidFire seems to have a solution for these companies with new smaller nodes. They provide a lower entry point and the ability to scale the cluster with nodes of any size. This may make it possible for customers to turn their tactical all-flash purchase into a strategic storage investment.

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Eric is an Analyst with Storage Switzerland and has over 25 years experience in high-technology industries. He’s held technical, management and marketing positions in the computer storage, instrumentation, digital imaging and test equipment fields. He has spent the past 15 years in the data storage field, with storage hardware manufacturers and as a national storage integrator, designing and implementing open systems storage solutions for companies in the Western United States.  Eric earned degrees in electrical/computer engineering from the University of Colorado and marketing from California State University, Humboldt.  He and his wife live in Colorado and have twins in college.

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