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Trusted Business Advisors, Expert Technology Analysts

Research Areas

Primary Storage

Includes Storage SAN Arrays, NAS, and other purpose-built, on-premises primary storage devices. Also included are key value-added storage technologies such as Flash, NVMe, Storage Class Memory and other relevant Storage Acceleration technologies.

In this category, Taneja Group analysts cover all form and manner of storage arrays, modular and monolithic, enterprise or SMB, large and small, general purpose or specialized. All emerging key strategic components that make up the primary storage systems are covered, soup-to-nuts. We look at specific storage acceleration technologies in a range of form factors, and assess how vendors and users can best take advantage of them to improve performance for specific types of use cases and workloads. We pay special attention to newly emerging technologies such as Storage Class Memory, and assess how they will work and interact with existing infrastructures and impact primary storage capabilities going forward.

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Profile

FlashSoft 4 for vSphere 6: Acceleration Technology Tailor-Made for VMware Environments

For all the gains server virtualization has brought in compute utilization, flexibility and efficiency, it has created an equally weighty set of challenges on the storage side, particularly in traditional storage environments. As servers become more consolidated, virtualized workloads must increasingly contend for scarce storage and IO resources, preventing them from consistently meeting throughput and response time objectives. On top of that, there is often no way to ensure that the most critical apps or virtual machines can gain priority access to data storage as needed, even in lightly consolidated environments. With a majority (70+%) of all workloads now running virtualized, it can be tough to achieve strong and predictable app performance with traditional shared storage.

To address these challenges, many VMware customers are now turning to server-side acceleration solutions, in which the flash storage resource can be placed closer to the application. But server-side acceleration is not a panacea. While some point solutions have been adapted to work in virtualized infrastructures, they generally lack enterprise features, and are often not well integrated with vSphere and the vCenter management platform. Such offerings are at best band-aid treatments, and at worst second-class citizens in the virtual infrastructure, proving difficult to scale, deploy and manage. To provide true enterprise value, a solution should seamlessly deliver performance to your critical VMware workloads, but without compromising availability, workload portability, or ease of deployment and management.

This is where FlashSoft 4 for VMware vSphere 6 comes in. FlashSoft is an intelligent, software-defined caching solution that accelerates your critical VMware workloads as an integrated vSphere data service, while still allowing you to take full advantage of all the vSphere enterprise capabilities you use today.

In this paper we examine the technology underlying the FlashSoft 4 for vSphere 6 solution, describe the features and capabilities it enables, and articulate the benefits customers can expect to realize upon deploying the solution.

Publish date: 08/31/16
Report

5 9’s Availability in a Lower Cost Dell SC4020 Product? Yes, Really!

Every year Dell measures the availability level of its Storage Center Series of products by analyzing the actual failure data in the field. For the past few years Dell has asked Taneja Group to audit the results to ensure that these systems were indeed meeting the celebrated 5 9s availability levels. And they have. This year Dell asked us to audit the results specifically on the relatively new model, SC4020.

Even though the SC4020 is a lower cost member of the SC family, it meets 5 9s criteria just like its bigger family members. Dell did not cut costs by sacrificing availability, but by space-saving design like a single enclosure for media and controllers instead of two separate enclosures. Even with the smaller footprint – 2U to the SC8000’s 6U -- the SC4020 still achieves 5 9s using the same strict test measurement criteria.

Frankly, many vendors choose not to subject their lower cost models to 5 9s testing. The vendor may not have put a lot of development dollars into the lower cost product in an effort to reduce cost and maintain profitability on a lower-priced system.

Dell didn’t do it this way with the SC4020. Instead of watering it down by stripping features, they architected high efficiency into a smaller footprint. The resulting array is smaller and more affordable, and retains the SC Series enterprise features: high availability and reliability, performance, centralized management, not only across all SC models but also across the Dell EqualLogic PS and FS models. This level of availability and efficiency makes the SC4020 an economical and highly efficient system for the mid-market and the distributed enterprise.

Publish date: 08/31/16
Profile

Dell SC7000 Series Unified Storage Platform

The challenge for mid-sized business is that they have smaller IT staffs and smaller budgets than the enterprise, yet still need high availability, high performance, and robust capacity on their storage systems. Every storage system will deliver parts of the solution but very, very few will deliver simplicity, efficiency, performance, availability, and capacity on a low-cost system.

We’re not blaming the storage system makers, since it’s hard to offer a storage system with all of these benefits and still maintain acceptable profit. It has been difficult for the storage manufacturers to design enterprise storage features into an affordable mid-ranged storage system that is enterprise-capable yet still yield enough profit to sustain the research and development needed to keep the product viable.

Dell is a master at this game with its Storage Center Intel-based portfolio. SC series range from an entry-level model up to enterprise datacenter class, with most of the middle line devoted to delivering enterprise features for the mid-market business. A few months ago Taneja Group reviewed and validated high availability features across the economical SC line. Dell is able to deliver those features because the SC operating system (SCOS) and FluidFS software stacks operate across every system in the SC family. Features are developed in such a way that a broad range of products can be deployed with enterprise data services each with highly tuned cost versus performance balance.

Dell’s new SC7000 series carries on with this successful game plan as the first truly unified storage platform for the popular SC line. Starting with the SC7020, this series now unifies block and file data in an extremely efficient and affordable architecture. And like all SC family members, the SC7020 comes with enterprise capabilities including high performance and availability, centralized management, storage efficiencies and more; all at mid-market pricing.

What distinguishes the SC7020 though is the level of efficiency and affordability that is rare for enterprise capable systems. Simple and efficient deployment, consistent management across all Storage Center platforms and investment protection through in-chassis upgrades (SC series can support multiple types of media within the same enclosure), makes the SC7020 an ideal choice for mid-market businesses. Add on auto-tiering (effectively right-sizing most frequently used data to the fastest media tier), built-in compression and multi-protocol support, provides these customers with a storage solution that evolves with their business needs

In this Solution Profile, Taneja Group explores how the cost-effective SC7020 delivers enterprise features to the data-intensive mid-market, and how Dell’s approach mitigates tough customer challenges. 

Publish date: 08/30/16
Profile

Got mid-sized workloads? Storwize family to the rescue

Myths prevail in the IT industry just as they do in every other facet of life. One common myth is that mid-sized workloads, exemplified by smaller versions of mission critical applications, are only to be found in mid-size companies. The reality is mid-sized workloads exist in businesses of all sizes. Another common fallacy is that small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) or departments within large organizations and Remote/Branch Offices (ROBOs) have lesser storage requirements than their larger enterprise counterparts. The reality is companies and groups of every size have business-critical applications and these workloads require enterprise-grade storage solutions that offer high-performance, reliability and strong security. The only difference is IT groups managing mid-sized workloads frequently have significant budget constraints. This is a tough combination and presents a big challenge for storage vendors striving to satisfy mid-sized workload needs.

A recent survey conducted by Taneja Group showed mid-size and enterprise needs for high-performance storage were best met by highly virtualized systems that minimize disruption to their current environment. Storage virtualization is key because it abstracts away all the differences of various storage boxes to create 1) a single virtualized storage pool 2) a common set of data services and 3) a common interface to manage storage resources. These storage virtualization capabilities are beneficial to the overall enterprise storage market and they are especially attractive to mid-sized storage customers because storage virtualization is the core underlying capability that drives efficiency and affordability.

The combination of affordability, manageability and enterprise-grade functionality is the core strength of the IBM Storwize family built upon IBM Spectrum Virtualize, the quintessential virtualization software that has been hardened for over a decade with IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC). Simply stated – few enterprise storage solutions match IBM Storwize’s ability to deliver enterprise-grade functionality at such a low cost. From storage virtualization and auto-tiering to real-time data compression and proven reliability, Storwize with Spectrum Virtualize offers an end-to-end storage footprint and centralized management that delivers highly efficient storage for mid-sized workloads, regardless of whether they exist in small or large companies.

In this paper, we will look at the key requirements for mid-sized storage and we will evaluate IBM Storwize with Spectrum Virtualize’s ability to tackle mid-sized workload requirements. We will also present an overview of IBM Storwize family and provide a comparison of the various models in the Storwize portfolio.

Publish date: 06/24/16
Profile

Flash Virtualization System: Powerful but Cost-Effective Acceleration for VMware Workloads

Server virtualization can bring your business significant benefits, especially in the initial stages of deployment. Companies we speak with in the early stages of adoption often cite more flexible and automated management of both infrastructure and apps, along with CAPEX and OPEX savings resulting from workload consolidation.  However, as an increasing number of apps are virtualized, many of these organizations encounter significant storage performance challenges. As more virtualized workloads are consolidated on a given host, aggregate IO demands put tremendous pressure on shared storage, server and networking resources, with the strain further exacerbated by the IO blender effect, in which IO streams processed by the hypervisor become random and unpredictable. Together, these conditions reduce host productivity—e.g. by lowering data and transactional throughput and increasing application response time—and may prevent you from meeting performance requirements for your business-critical applications.

How can you best address these storage performance challenges in your virtual infrastructure? Adding solid-state or flash storage will provide a significant performance boost, but where should it be deployed to give your critical applications the biggest improvement per dollar spent? How can you ensure that the additional storage fits effortlessly into your existing environment, without requiring disruptive and costly changes to your infrastructure, applications, or management capabilities?

We believe that server-side acceleration provides the best answer to all of these questions. In particular, we like server solutions that combine intelligent caching with high-performance PCIe memory, which are tightly integrated with the virtualization platform, and enable sharing of storage across multiple hosts or an entire cluster. The Flash Virtualization System from SanDisk is an outstanding example of such a solution. As we’ll see, Flash Virtualization enables a shared cache resource across a cluster of hosts in a VMware environment, improving application performance and response time without disrupting primary storage or host servers. This solution will allow you to satisfy SLAs and keep your users happy, without breaking the bank.

Publish date: 06/14/16
Report

High Capacity SSDs are Driving the Shift to the All Flash Data Center

All Flash Arrays (AFAs) have had an impressive run of growth. From less than 5% of total array revenue in 2011, they’re expected to approach 50% of total revenue by the end of 2016, roughly a 60% CAGR. This isn’t surprising, really. Even though they’ve historically cost more on a $$/GB level (the gap is rapidly narrowing), they offer large advantages over hybrid and HDD-based arrays in every other area.

The most obvious advantage that SSDs have over HDDs is in performance. With no moving parts to slow them down, they can be over a thousand times faster than HDDs by some measures. Using them to eliminate storage bottlenecks, CIOs can squeeze more utility out of their servers. The high performance of SSD’s has allowed storage vendors to implement storage capacity optimization techniques such as thin deduplication within AFAs. Breathtaking performance combined with affordable capacity optimization has been the major driving force behind AFA market gains to date.

While people are generally aware that SSDs outperform HDDs by a large margin, they usually have less visibility into the other advantages that they bring to the table. SSDs are also superior to HDDs in the areas of reliability (and thus warranty), power consumption, cooling requirements and physical footprint. As we’ll see, these TCO advantages allow users to run at significantly lower OPEX levels when switching to AFAs from traditional, HDD-based arrays.

When looking at the total cost envelope, factoring in their superior performance, AFAs are already the intelligent purchase decision, particularly for Tier 1 mission critical workloads. Now, a new generation of high capacity SSDs is coming and it’s poised to accelerate the AFA takeover. We believe the Flash revolution in storage that started in 2011will outpace even the most optimistic forecast in 2016 easily eclipsing the 50% of total revenue predicted for external arrays. Let’s take a look at how and why.

Publish date: 06/10/16
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