Flash storage’s contribution to the emerging data ecosystem cannot be overstated, and it seems increasingly likely that before long it will comprise the bulk of short- and medium-term storage infrastructure at most data centers.
But beyond the constantly improving speed and capacity characteristics of the medium itself are the myriad ways in which advanced management and integration technologies are improving the way it handles emerging data loads. And this is leading many enterprises to start considering not only what type of Flash to deploy and where to put it, but how it is to be architected and in what ways can it be optimized for specific data functions.
Indeed, many of the latest Flash developments have centered on the service and management side of the array, rather than the storage itself. Reduxio’s new HX550 hybrid storage solution features the BackDating function, which is said to replace snapshot technology by allowing data recovery from multiple time points in the past. The system utilizes the TimeOS metadata architecture that keeps track of IO to simplify dedupe and compression processes and provide infinite data retrieval across volume histories without the need for scheduling or consistency group management. As well, the system offers the Tier-X module for continuous, automatic block-level tiering for hot and cold data.
Meanwhile, Nimble Storage has added a new ability to its hybrid platform that allows users to “pin” applications to Flash tiers to enable better performance when it is needed. Company execs tell CRN that this is partly in response to all-Flash solutions like Pure Storage, but it also has to do with broadening the platform’s appeal to enterprise users who are dealing with the high-speed demands of mobile computing and Big Data. The platform has also gained software-based encryption, enhanced visibility and a REST API for improved integration into legacy systems.
At Violin Memory, the emphasis these days is on workload migration. The company recently released a suite of professional service and support options designed to help the enterprise plan, build and operate new Flash storage environments. The program covers a number of areas, such as array installation, data migration and secure data erase that clears data from previous arrays. There is also a Stretch Cluster service that enables business continuity and disaster recovery. And for a limited time, Violin is also offering free migration to all-Flash primary storage systems.
And from Tegile Systems, we have the new IntelliFlash HD platform that enables advanced capabilities like multi-controller scalability, native block and file access, and a laundry list of data services like cloning, thin provisioning and inline dedupe, all from a single user interface with built-in support for VMware SRM, VASA and other tools. In addition, the company has developed a range of support modules and services for cloud-based analytics, converged infrastructure deployment and data protection/reduction.
When evaluating a Flash storage solution, then, the actual Flash should be the least of your concerns. Much more important is how the system operates, what feature sets it contains, how easy it is to migrate data to and from the array, and how to integrate it into a legacy environment. And perhaps most important, how well it supports the data and applications it will encounter.
The goal here should not be to merely convert legacy storage to Flash, but to incorporate Flash into the overarching data environment.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.