As data center storage becomes increasingly flash based, the big debate among storage vendors is whether storage should be all-flash or hybrid (a mixture of flash and hard disks). Depending on the workload there is a case to be made for both, but most vendors only provide one of the two types of solutions and very few provide any tools to help customers determine which solution is best for them.
American MegaTrends’ StorTrends family of products recently announced the StorTrends 3600i All-Flash Array that joins their StorTrends 3400i hard disk array and 3500i Hybrid array products. The combination allows a StorTrends customer to choose the right solution for their needs. Most importantly, StorTrends’ iData tool provides potential customers the ability to easily analyze their workloads and determine which of these solutions is right for them. In other words, StorTrends does not have to make every problem an all-flash problem and they can help their customers determine which type of problem they have.
About The 3600i
The new 3600i is an all-flash array that provides low-latency performance, as low as 1ms, and capacities up to 256TB of flash. For connectivity the 3600i provides iSCSI access via 8 x 1GbE or 4 x 10GbE interfaces. The 3600i, while a little late to the all-flash market, hits all the feature check boxes like deduplication and compression, but also has a unique feature, optimized read and write flash tiers.
The write-optimized tier has a small number of solid state disks tuned for high endurance. This tier acts as a ‘shock absorber’ for inbound writes and is designed to be more durable so that the life expectancy of the flash can be extended. This tier is also designed to provide the highest performance possible to those inbound writes. A design like this also allows StorTrends to use a less durable flash configuration on the read tier to reduce costs. This read tier, because it has a higher number of solid state disk drives, will also provide faster read response.
Another unique capability for StorTrends is snapshots. While snapshot technology is not unique the maturity of the StorTrends’ technology is. The software can maintain multiple snapshot levels to maximize snapshot space and recovery point objectives. The feature is presented in a very simple user interface and provides a recovery wizard for live snapshot review and rollback. Both SQL and Exchange can provide single item recovery.
In terms of disaster recovery, StorTrends provides one of the best thought-out solutions. It provides WAN optimized, asynchronous replication that can replicate between the various StorTrends hardware solutions. This means that an all-flash array in the primary data center can replicate to a high capacity hard disk array in a disaster recovery site. Surprisingly, very few vendors offer this somewhat obvious capability.
All-flash storage is still in its infancy and a great many data centers have not yet adopted the technology. In fact, those that have generally used the all-flash array to address a specific performance pain point not widespread use. A single all-flash array should be able to provide top performance to a wide variety of applications like databases, virtualized servers and virtualized desktops.
The hesitation on the part of IT for widespread adoption of flash arrays has not been performance though. Instead there is a genuine concern over maturity of the surrounding data services and its ability to compliment hard disk technology. Our take is that StorTrends provides a surprisingly mature and well-designed set of solutions to today’s primary storage challenge.