Top 8 All-Flash Storage Arrays Tools
Pure Storage FlashArrayNetApp AFF (All Flash FAS)HPE 3PAR StoreServDell EMC PowerMax NVMeDell EMC Unity XTHPE Nimble StorageIBM FlashSystemDell EMC PowerStore
The availability and ease of use are the big features.
I like the speed, and I like the API and how programmable it is.
The most valuable features are the performance and the storage efficiency, due to the compression and deduplication... The efficiency is very important because we can buy fewer disks for more data.
HPE 3PAR has all the common storage features like cell provisioning and deduplication. Usually the solution is chosen by the customer as they have a preference, or the setup is already in their environment.
The compression and deduplication are always on. We get more than 4:1 capacity savings using them. The efficiency benefits from compression and deduplication are through a specialized hardware module within the storage itself, and that means there is no overhead to the compression and dedupe.
My storage team likes Unity's replication features. Three-site replication is a unique feature that EMC offers us.
The setup and installation procedures are easy.
The most valuable feature is the management of Nimble Storage, InfoSight. This is like a cloud. That's really a very nice feature. I think that's the only reason to buy Nimble Storage.
This solution is very stable.
IBM FlashSystem has been stable in our operations.
The most valuable features are the price and the scalability.
You can add compute and capacity independently. We have sized the solution based on our current needs, but in the future we can choose to increase capacity if we grow our activity in the market. And if we have more business in our monetary system, we can increase compute. The ability to choose what we increase is a good feature.
What is All-Flash Data Storage?
Also called all-flash arrays (AFA), all flash-data storage is a type of storage infrastructure that consists entirely of flash drives instead of spinning-disk or hard drives. All-flash is also called solid-state array (SSA).
The AFA enables organizations to have faster and better operations, performance, and agility for business applications. Some companies will mix flash and disk drives in a hybrid array, but this doesn’t give them the same benefits as replacing all hard disks with AFA.
One of AFA’s characteristics is that it includes native software services for data management and data protection in the array hardware. This saves users from having to purchase and install third-party management software to protect data.
Flash vs. SSD Storage
Flash memory is often confused with solid-state disk (SSD) storage. However, they are not the same thing. A solid-state drive is any storage device without moving parts. Thus, flash is a type of SSD, but not every SSD is flash. Because people are familiar with flash USB drives, many users confuse the terms. An all-flash array (AFA) replaces the disk supporting input/output processes and storage.
SSDs use flash memory to ensure a high-speed when reading/writing data, reaching speeds of over 5GBs/s. To achieve this, they read or write multiple flash memory chips simultaneously, having between 4 and 16 channels to access flash storage.
Flash Memory vs. RAM
Both technologies are based on solid-state chips, and thus considered solid-state storage. However, they are used differently in a computer system.
Flash memory is used for storing, reading, and writing data at high speeds.
RAM (random access memory) is the part of your computer memory that performs operations on the data retrieved from storage.
Both flash memory and RAM are faster than hard disk drives (HDD) because of their solid-state nature. RAM, however, is faster than flash. On the downside, it is also more expensive. It is also volatile, which means it cannot hold data when the power is down.
Regarding costs, there are two types of RAM used in computer systems: SRAM (static RAM) and DRAM (dynamic RAM). Static RAM is usually faster, but as such, much more expensive than DRAM. Therefore, organizations use SRAM for memory cache, and DRAM for operational memory for the operating system and applications.
Flash memory is less expensive than RAM and is non-volatile. Therefore, it can hold data without being connected to power. The downside of flash memory is that compared to RAM memory types, it is significantly slower. Organizations use flash in use cases that require reduced power consumption and persistent storage at a lower cost.
Features of All-Flash Arrays
Some of the basic features to consider when looking for an AFA vendor include:
- Capacity: Vendors offer capacity in terabytes (1024 GB) or petabytes (1024 terabytes). Usually starting at hundreds of terabytes going up to tens of petabytes.
- IOPS (input/output operations per second): Vendors may offer anywhere from 400k IOPS to millions of IOPS. The right solution will depend on your required input/output rate.
- GB/second: This gives you the speed rate of the AFA. The more GB per second, the faster the operations.
- Latency: How long it takes for the system to receive a single data request, find it, and access it. In a flash drive, latency often includes the time required to navigate through network connectivity.
Additionally, when choosing an All-Flash Array solution, consider the following factors:
What is the AFA throughput?
One of the key characteristics of flash memory is the capability to handle a large number of input/output operations per second. However, looking at the throughput - the number of data bits read/written per second - can give you a better idea of the AFA capabilities. Discovering how much throughput your workloads need can guide you on the type of flash memory you require.
What is the read/write ratio?
Similarly, since a flash drive can accept only a set number of write cycles, you need to know the read/write ratio your workloads require. Remember that as a solid-state drive, flash memory cells need to be erased before writing them over.
Does it handle different block sizes?
The vendor may claim a high IOPS (input/output operations per second) rate, but if the rate is based on a smaller block size than the ones your workload needs, it may give you a mistaken idea of the AFA capability. Look instead at the block sizes your workload requires so you can have an accurate idea of the AFA performance.
Do the features slow performance?
Vendors may offer many additional features to provide a more complete solution. However, some of the features, such as data compression capabilities, may actually slow performance. Look at the full list of features and how they work before committing.
Benefits of All-Flash Arrays
The benefits of all-flash storage arrays (AFA) for today’s companies include:
Higher speed: The key feature of flash arrays is not what they have, but what they lack. Flash memory has no moving parts, thus it can work faster and provide high IOPS (input/output per second). One of the main benefits of AFAs is the high read/write speed. For users, it means that accessing, moving, and sharing data is simpler and quicker.
- Lower costs: The popularity of all-flash arrays is becoming increasingly competitive compared with other storage solutions. While the cost/GB for HDDs (hard disk drives) has stayed constant since the 2010s, the price/GB of SSDs (solid-state disks) - including AFAs - has dropped significantly since the early 2000s.
- Stronger Analytics: If you have faster access to data and increased read/write capabilities, you can handle real-time data analytics of the growing datasets every digital company has today. Since the amount of data that businesses need to process is growing exponentially, a faster storage solution is an advantage.
- Easier scalability: In today’s digital transformation era, with companies moving data and workloads to and from the cloud, having a storage solution that supports hybrid models is key. All-flash arrays are faster, more resilient, rewritable, and non-volatile, which makes them suitable for organizations needing to scale up or down quickly.