Infinidat Introduces Elastic Data Fabric

More Efficient NVMe-oF at Enterprise Scale

For large enterprises, data stores continue to grow into the petabytes (PB), and increasingly need to operate across on-premises infrastructure and cloud services in order to balance cost, control and performance needs. Meanwhile, the market for non-volatile memory express (NVMe) flash media and NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF) networks promise to enable higher performance storage and more efficient application performance across the storage infrastructure. Storage managers must deliver not only the most cost-efficient topology of storage infrastructure to meet service level agreements (SLAs), but they also must do so with minimal hassle, to free up the time that they have available to support the business in a more strategic way.

Who is Infinidat?

Infinidat targets enterprise-scale, multi-petabyte storage infrastructure consolidation for primary and disaster recovery use cases. To date, the portfolio has centered on its InfiniBox primary storage arrays and its InfiniGuard data protection solutions. In March 2018, Infinidat added to this lineup both InfiniGuard and its Neutrix services, which enables delivery of file systems and block volumes across on-premises systems, public clouds and colocation providers. The Elastic Data Fabric is the newly unveiled umbrella under which Infinidat is evolving to address the enterprise’s need for increased mobility and streamlined management of data across on-premises private clouds and off-premises public cloud services.

On-Premises-as-a-Service

Complementing its Neutrix services, Infinidat’s Elastic Data Fabric launch includes new InfiniBox FLX and InfiniGuard FLX subscription service programs. The technologies are still delivered on-premises but are paid for through an opex-based, consumption-driven model, on a per gigabyte per month basis. As a result, they enable customers to bypass planning and paying for expensive and increasingly challenging-to-predict upgrades and capacity expansions. The company’s 100% availability guarantee and a full refresh of storage controllers and media every three years are included in the subscription cost. This, coupled with the multi-protocol support and quality of service (QoS) capabilities that are inherent in InfiniBox arrays, will differentiate the offering from competing consumption-based storage services.

Centralizing Control

Infinidat’s new InfiniVerse software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform will serve as the common control and data plane across on-premises InfiniBox and InfiniGuard deployments (whether FLX or traditionally procured) and Neutrix cloud services. The platform uses machine learning (ML) to provide more predictive management and monitoring, for example forecasting capacity requirements, modeling performance and identifying configuration issues to improve applications’ availability and performance.

Because customers consolidate a large portion of their workloads on InfiniBox arrays, Storage Switzerland believes InfiniVerse can have a substantial impact on cost savings and improving performance. For example, one of InfiniVerse’s differentiators is its ability to proactively identify storage capacity that may be reclaimed for use. Additionally, the platform can segment views and insights by host and cluster, to understand the impact of specific systems on the user’s performance and experience. It also can provide granular chargeback capabilities, which can be especially helpful in navigating cost and pricing dynamics during the shift to an opex model such as FLX.

Infinidat Active-Active Replication and Availability Zones

Alongside its Elastic Data Fabric, Infinidat has also introduced active-active synchronous replication. This capability complements Infinidat’s asynchronous replication and its synchronous replication features facilitated by InfiniSnap – a core part of the Infinidat storage architecture. Active-active synchronous replication enables recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) of zero (zero data loss and zero application downtime). According to Infinidat, this is because multiple copies of data are kept up-to-date simultaneously, and because failover between nodes takes only seconds.

The active-active asynchronous replication will also provide the foundation for Infinidat’s non-disruptive Transparent Data Mobility (TDM) capability, scheduled to be released as a software upgrade by 2H20. TDM will enable migrating workloads between InfiniBox systems without application downtime, and without the need for change control. Effectively, it aims to eliminate the need for expensive and cumbersome data migrations. It will be automated and repeatable. TDM will use what Infinidat calls “availability zones,” which are scale-out clusters of InfiniBox systems that are managed as a single elastic pool of storage. Whereas data migrations are typically handled in band, TDM will implement the associated functions in a distributed fashion across port drivers. Users will only need to manage availability zones, as opposed to individual clusters.

Infinidat’s Unique Approach to NVMe-oF

Alongside the cloud and data migration related enhancements, Infinidat has announced its InfiniBox Software Release 5 (R5) and new hardware configuration options to accelerate application performance. Notably, the new InfiniBox arrays will be able to support storage-class memory (SCM) and NVMe-oF networking with a non-disruptive and free software upgrade. When it comes to supporting NVMe-oF, Infinidat believes its solution is differentiated because it uses DRAM, rather than much slower NAND flash media, for the vast majority of I/Os.

According to Infinidat, the heavy use of DRAM enables its InfiniBox arrays to achieve read and write latencies of 30 and 40 microseconds, respectively. The NVMe-oF support complements other latency reductions that have been introduced – including more robust storage networking, with the arrays being configured with 16 gigabit FC (Gb) Fibre Channel (FC) as the standard, and customers having the option of upgrading to 32 Gb FB. According to Infinidat, the new systems can deliver new maximums of 2 million input/output operations per second (IOPS) and throughput of 25 GB per second.

StorageSwiss Take

Several of Infinidat’s announced capabilities including its forthcoming TDM functionality have yet to be fully rolled out, and the NVMe-oF market is still maturing. That being acknowledged, Infinidat’s Elastic Data Fabric and its NVMe-oF support bear consideration from enterprise storage professionals. These announcements reflect that Infinidat is taking its portfolio in a sound direction when it comes to solving the most pressing items on enterprise storage managers’ IT agendas: how to facilitate seamless mobility across systems and cloud resources as we move into the age of petabytes of data, and how to make the most out of investments in high performance NVMe technologies. These investments complement its strong foundation of serving complex, large-scale and mission-critical enterprise workload consolidation initiatives while preserving workload availability and performance.

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Senior Analyst, Krista Macomber produces analyst commentary and contributes to a range of client deliverables including white papers, webinars and videos for Storage Switzerland. She has a decade of experience covering all things storage, data center and cloud infrastructure, including: technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her previous experience includes leading the IT infrastructure practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research, and leading market intelligence initiatives for media company TechTarget.

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