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.
Flash technology has burst on the IT scene within the past few years with a vengeance. Initially seen simply as a replacement for HDDs, flash now is triggering IT and business to rethink a lot of practices that have been well established for decades. One of those is data protection. Do you protect data the same way when it is sitting on flash as you did when HDDs ruled the day? How do you take into account that at raw cost/capacity levels, flash is still more expensive than HDDs? Do data deduplication and compression technologies change how you work with flash? Does the fact that flash technology is injected most often to alleviate severe application performance issues require you to rethink how you should protect, manage, and move this data?
These questions apply across the board when flash is injected into storage arrays but even more so when you consider all-flash arrays (AFAs), which are often associated with the most mission-critical applications an enterprise possesses. The expectations for application service levels and data protection recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) are vastly different in these environments. Given this, are existing data protection tools adequate? Or is there a better way to utilize these expensive assets and yet achieve far superior results? The short answer is yes to both.
In this Opinion piece we will focus on answering these questions broadly through the data protection lens. We will then look at a specific case of how data protection can be designed with flash in mind by considering the combination of flash-optimized HPE 3PAR StoreServ Storage, HPE StoreOnce System backup appliances, and HPE Recovery Management Central (RMC) software. These elements combine to produce an exceptional solution that meets the stringent application service requirements and data protection RTOs and RPOs that one finds in flash storage environments while keeping costs in check.
After conducting a number of in-depth field interviews with real world Microsoft Azure StorSimple users, we’ve discovered that the real StorSimple story is all about helping people transition smoothly from on-premises storage to an on-premises/cloud hybrid model. From there, it helps both IT and the business accelerate broader adoption of cloud-centric hybrid IT architecture. StorSimple not only simplifies on-premises storage challenges with fully integrated automated cloud-tiering and data protection (providing elastic capacity and cloud burstability), but also optimizes distributed file sharing and application storage (with cloud-based DR, centralized management, and extensibility).
However, it’s easy to talk about features – what a product does and how it does it. These are important things to know and we’ll highlight several key capabilities in this report. But the real proof of the successful product pudding is this: what do actual customers say? What are their challenges, their hopes, their needs? And how did their storage decisions serve those needs?
To answer these questions, we took an in-depth look at StorSimple through a customer lens. Real-life enterprise customers told us about their original journeys to StorSimple, and how Microsoft is helping them to move on more fully to the cloud. Ultimately, we noted five highly-valued critical advantages of StorSimple: native data protection and disaster recovery, deployment and management simplicity across multiple locations, a high return on investment, and a dynamic storage environment that unifies files and applications across the enterprise.
Several Nutanix customers shared with Taneja Group why they switched from traditional NetApp storage to the hyperconverged Nutanix platform. Each customer talked about the value of hyperconvergence versus a traditional server/networking/storage stack, and the specific benefits of Nutanix in mission-critical production environments.
Hyperconverged systems are a popular alternative to traditional computing architectures that are built with separate compute, storage, and networking components. Nutanix turns this complex environment into an efficient, software-based infrastructure where hypervisor, compute, storage, networking, and data services run on scalable nodes that seamlessly scale across massive virtual environments.
The customers we spoke with came from very different industries, but all of them faced major technology refreshes for legacy servers and NetApp storage. Each decided that hyperconvergence was the right answer, and each chose the Nutanix hyperconvergence platform for its major benefits including scalability, simplicity, value, performance, and support. The single key achievement running through all these benefits is “Ease of Everything”: ease of scaling, ease of management, ease of realizing value, ease of performance, and ease of upgrades and support. Nutanix simply works across small clusters and large, single and multiple datacenters, specialist or generalist IT, and different hypervisors.
The datacenter is not static. Huge data growth and increasing complexity are motivating IT directors from every industry to invest in scalable hyperconvergence. Given Nutanix benefits across the board, these directors can confidently adopt Nutanix to transform their data-centers, just as these NetApp customers did.
Taneja Group spoke with several Nutanix customers in order to understand why they switched from EMC storage to the Nutanix platform. All of the respondent’s articulated key architectural benefits of hyperconvergence versus a traditional 3-tier solutions. In addition, specific Nutanix features for mission-critical production environments were often cited.
Hyperconverged systems have become a mainstream alternative to traditional 3-tier architecture consisting of separate compute, storage and networking products. Nutanix collapses this complex environment into software-based infrastructure optimized for virtual environments. Hypervisor, compute, storage, networking, and data services run on scalable nodes that seamlessly scale across massive virtual assets. Hyperconvergence offers a key value proposition over 3-tier architecture: instead of deploying, managing and integrating separate components – storage, servers, networking, data services, and hypervisors – these components are combined into a modular high performance system.
The customers we interviewed operate in very different industries. In common, they all maintained data centers undergoing fundamental changes, typically involving an opportunity to refresh some portion of their 3-tier infrastructure. This enabled the evaluation of hyperconvergence in supporting those changes. Customers interviewed found that Nutanix hyperconvergence delivered benefits in the areas of scalability, simplicity, value, performance, and support. If we could use one phrase to explain why Nutanix’ is winning over EMC customers in the enterprise market it would be “Ease of Everything.” Nutanix works, and works consistently with small and large clusters, in single and multiple datacenters, with specialist or generalist IT support, and across hypervisors.
The five generations of Nutanix products span many years of product innovation. Web-scale architecture has been the key to Nutanix platform’s enterprise capable performance, simplicity and scalability. Building technology like this requires years of innovation and focus and is not an add-on for existing products and architectures.
The modern data center is quickly changing. Extreme data growth and complexity are driving data center directors toward innovative technology that will grow with them. Given the benefits of Nutanix web-scale architecture – and the Ease of Everything – data center directors can confidently adopt Nutanix as their partner in data center transformation just as the following EMC customers did.
Flash storage offers higher performance, lower power consumption, decreased footprint and increased reliability over spinning media. It would be the rare IT shop today that doesn’t have some flash acceleration deployed in performance hot spots. But many IT folks are still on the sidelines watching and waiting for the right time to jump into a bigger adoption of flash-based shared storage.
When will flash costs (CAPEX) drop to make it affordable to switch – and for which workloads does all-flash make sense? How much better does it need to be to overcome the pain and cost (OPEX) of adopting and migrating to a whole new storage solution? How much more complex and costly is it to run a mixed storage environment with some all-flash, some tiered, and some capacity arrays?
In this insightful field report we’ve interviewed a half dozen real-world IT storage groups who faced those challenges, and with HPE 3PAR StoreServ have been able to easily transition important performance-sensitive workloads to all-flash storage. By staying within the 3PAR StoreServ family for their larger storage needs, they’ve been able to steer a clear, cost-effective and rewarding course to flash performance.
In each interview, we explore how they executed their transition from HDD to hybrid to all-flash under their real world IT initiatives that included consolidation, data center transformation, and performance acceleration. We’ll learn about the particular business values they are each successfully producing, and we will present some recommendations for others making all-flash storage decisions.