Hybrid Flash Arrays: 13 Vendors Pushing Capacity, Performance Boundaries

Balancing Performance And Cost: Hybrid Flash Arrays

Customers looking to take advantage of the performance boost offered by flash storage while keeping the majority of data on spinning disks are counting on hybrid storage arrays as the answer. Unlike earlier arrays where flash was used as a write cache to improve performance, hybrid storage arrays use a large flash tier as primary storage for part of their live data, and move the data to spinning disks within the same array as it becomes less-often accessed.

CRN, as part of its Storage Week 2015 feature with a focus on all-flash vs. hybrid flash storage arrays, gathered the latest all-flash arrays from 13 vendors ranging from small upstarts to the largest legacy vendors.

For a look at all-flash arrays, see the slide show posted this week that covered 11 offerings.

Dell SC4020

The Dell Storage SC4020 uses the company's flash-optimized technology for hybrid arrays that support multiple SSD tiers within the arrays, taking advantage of both write-intensive and read-intensive drives in arrays starting at less than $25,000. The SC4020 includes dual redundant controllers, 24 internal drive slots and Fibre Channel and iSCSI network ports in a 2U form factor. The SC4020 can scale to more than 400 TB of raw capacity, and is targeted at a wide range of workloads for midsize SANs or remote or branch office solutions.

Dot Hill Systems Ultra56 AssuredSAN

Dot Hill's Ultra56 AssuredSAN hybrid array incorporates dual high-performance AssuredSAN 4004 controllers and more than 300 TB of data with hard drives and SSDs in only 4U of rack space.

The Ultra56 AssuredSAN array features Dot Hill's RealStor version 2.0 application workload-aware intelligence for delivering data where and when customers need it in real time. It also includes the company's RealTier autonomic real-time tiering application that separates streaming and transaction workflows and places data on the appropriate tier immediately to increase read and write operations.

HP 3Par StoreServ 7440c Storage

HP's 3Par StoreServ 7440c Storage supports 2 PB of raw capacity and 3.5 PB of usable capacity, with performance of 900,000 IOPS and 0.3ms to 0.7ms latency but with a price of about $1.60 per usable GB. The 7440c is a unified storage solution with block, file, and object access via optional 3Par File Persona software.

The 7440c offers the same services as HP's entire 3PAR StoreServ line, including inline Thin Deduplication and Thin Clones software along with support for 3Par Adaptive Flash Cache, which leverages SSDs to extend system cache. Quad-node resiliency and a five-year warranty on the SSDs, combined with HP's "Get 6-Nines" guarantee program, provides data high availability with 99.9999 percent uptime.

Hitachi Data Systems

Customers buy flash for performance-hungry applications and Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform G1000 is the clear leader. The recently published SPC-1 benchmark report for the G1000 model pierced the 2,000,000 IOPS limit for the first time in history. Response times are always less than 1ms, even at full I/O loads. G1000 can be configured entirely with flash drives or in hybrid configurations that use tiering to automatically move data between flash and hard drives according to access rates. The Global Active Device feature and 100 percent data availability guarantee ensure that mission-critical applications will always be running.

NetApp E5600

NetApp's E5600 leverages the company's SANtricity operating system adaptive caching algorithms to address a wide range of workloads with fully redundant I/O paths, advanced data protection features and diagnostic capabilities. The 60-drive system shelf supports up to 360 TB of raw capacity in 4U, or up to 2.3 PB with expansion shelves, using an all-disk configuration.

NexGen N5

NexGen Storage's N5 is unique in its purpose-built PCIe flash architecture and capabilities that allow customers to prioritize application data and workloads according to business value. The company claims PCIe flash integration provides more flash performance and capacity than hybrids using SSD.

The N5 is available in four models. For a typical user case, a single 3U NexGen N5 can support up to 15.6 TB of raw PCIe flash capacity and 64 TB of disk capacity. Disk capacity scales to 256 TB via additional 64-TB disk shelves. Compression for typical applications can cut capacity by about 30 percent, while compression and deduplication can cut typical application capacity by 50 percent.

Nimble Storage Fibre Channel

Nimble Storage in November added Fibre Channel connectivity to its midrange and higher-end CS-series of hybrid flash arrays. All the company's models support iSCSI.

Nimble Storage also started supporting new 4-TB hard drives as a way to increase the capacity of its arrays up to 1.6 PB using six expansion shelves, along with support for up to 160 TB of flash storage in a four-node cluster.

Oracle FS1

The Oracle FS1 Flash Storage System intelligently places data across flash and disk storage to maximize performance, efficiency and cost based on usage profiles and business priorities. Oracle FS1 features one-click provisioning for Oracle Database and third-party applications including Microsoft Exchange and SAP to simplify deployment. It scales to 912 TB of flash in a dual-node configuration and to up to 7 PB of flash in a 16-node model. For Oracle Databases, array-based compression and dedupe will not impact performance, giving the FS1 a data compression ratio of up to 50X.

Panasas ActiveStor 16

The ActiveStor 16 from Panasas is a hybrid scale-out NAS solution for technical computing environments. The Panasas ActiveStor 16 features a storage blade architecture with a 240-GB hard drive and two 4-TB or 6-TB hard drives per blade. This allows a single file system to scale to up to 12 PB and 150 GBps or 1.3 million IOPS with a single point of management. The Panasas PanFS 6.0 storage operating system delivers triple parity data protection, per-file RAID 6+, and extended file system availability for business continuity.

StorTrends 3500i

The 3500i from StorTrends, a division of American Megatrends, employs SSD caching, SSD tiering, and Automatically Tuned Volumes (ATV) within a single device. The StorTrends 3500i can be configured as an all-flash array with 16 SSDs, or as a hybrid flash array with either two, four, or six SSDs backed with SAS or near-line SAS drives for increased capacity.

The 3500i comes preinstalled with the StorTrends iTX architecture that provides enterprise-class features such as intelligent application-aware snapshots, auto data tiering, a VMware vSphere plug-in for ease of management, and a proprietary WAN optimization engine for replication.

Tegile Systems T3400

Tegile's T3400 is available with up to 28.8 TB of flash storage capacity and a total raw capacity of between 26 TB and 314 TB. Tegile features SSDs from SanDisk or Western Digital's HGST, both of which are investors in the company.

The Tegile solutions include the company's IntelliFlash, which organizes and stores metadata independent of the data on dedicated DRAM and flash with optimized retrieval paths. The company said that IntelliFlash, combined with flash-driven caching algorithms, accelerates the solution and raises the performance of hybrid storage systems to SSD levels.

Tintri VMstore T800 Series

The Tintri VMstore T800 series offers purpose-built flash-optimized storage for virtualized and private cloud workloads.

There are three models in the series. The VMstore T820 offers raw flash capacity of 1.7 TB and raw hard drive capacity of 20 TB for an effective capacity of 23 TB with RAID 6 protection and after in-line compression and deduplication. The VMstore T850 comes with 5.3 TB of flash and 52 TB of hard drive capacity for an effective capacity of 66 TB. The T880 includes 8.8 TBsof flash and 78 TB of disk capacity for an effective capacity of 100 TB, which the company said is good for up to 3,500 virtual machines.

X-IO ISE 780

X-IO's ISE 780 hybrid array uses the company's Intelligent Adaptive Flash technology to tier between flash and disk storage tiers. The ISE 780 is available with raw disk capacity of 28.8 TB and flash storage capacity of 6.4 TB.

The solution delivers up to 120,000 IOPS of performance with 2 GBps of bandwidth, and is available with 40-Gbit Ethernet and 10-Gbit Ethernet as well as 8-Gbit Fibre Channel connectivity. Software features include thin provisioning, QoS, Intelligent Adaptive Flash, ReST web services API, and optional active-active synchronous mirroring.