All-flash storage arrays may differ on capacity, drive type, networking options and storage-savings features, but the one thing they all do is improve performance.
The 15 flash storage product lines profiled in TechTarget's all-flash array guide claim maximum read IOPS ranging from 200,000 to 9 million, peak read throughput from 2.4 GBps to 46 GBps, and read latencies from 50 microseconds to 1 millisecond.
But performance numbers can be tricky to compare. Vendors use differing configurations, workloads and block sizes to test their products. Plus, their test cases may not even remotely resemble a given customer's actual environment. The aforementioned top figures for IOPS and read throughput apply to one flash storage vendor's maximum 100-node configuration.
Price comparisons are also tough. Prices per gigabyte vary among vendors based on their products' configurations and whether or not they factor in data reduction technologies, such as deduplication and compression. Prices per IOPS are no easier, with differing sets of variables to weigh.
And finding the array with the highest performance or the lowest overall cost may not matter if the system lacks the features that an enterprise wants or needs. Some all-flash storage arrays are rich in capabilities that are typically found in traditional arrays that use hard-disk drives (HDDs). Others leave out such features as inline deduplication and inline compression that might have an impact on performance.
So, in putting together our guide, we collected a wide range of information to help you compare all-flash storage arrays. We asked the vendors to supply details on their product's specifications, flash media, warranty and support in addition to storage-saving and management features, performance and price. We also provide some of the finer-grained details that you won't find on their product pages, such as which storage features they charge an extra fee for and whether they replace flash drives that wear out before the warranty expires.
Whenever possible, we tried to ensure that vendors' responses were consistent to enable comparison. And whenever questions went unanswered, we hounded them.
1For the sake of comparison-
Everything you wanted to know about all-flash arrays in one big chart
TechTarget's all-flash array guide profiles 15 product lines from 13 vendors, large and small. Click the link below to check out our all-flash array comparison chart.
Our all-flash array comparison chart provides an overview of all-flash storage arrays on such criteria as storage architecture, flash type, array capacity, networking technology, warranty and support, and storage-saving and management features. For instance, the chart shows that most products support replication. You will also see that some vendors offer the feature at no charge, while others require a fee or a separate product at an extra cost. Continue Reading
Devil in the details? Snapshot profiles of all-flash array vendors
We profiled 13 vendors of all-flash arrays and spotlighted their products' areas of distinction and deficiency compared to the others.
Dell Inc.'s all-flash strategy centers on its Compellent and EqualLogic arrays, which were originally designed for HDDs. All-SSD configurations have technically been available since 2009 with the Compellent and EqualLogic product lines, but major updates in 2013 brought significant enhancements with flash in mind. Continue Reading
EMC Corp. positions its purpose-built XtremIO all-flash array for customers in need of predictable, low-latency performance and scalability. The company's target for the VNX-F is users that prioritize price per gigabyte and price per IOPS. Continue Reading
To enhance performance, Hewlett-Packard Co. uses a flash-optimized software layer and CPU and memory In its all-SSD 3PAR StoreServ 7450 that differ from what it uses in the rest of the StoreServ family of products. Continue Reading
Hitachi Data Systems built its own flash module drives and engineered flash-specific system software modifications to boost the performance of its Hitachi Unified Storage (HUS) VM array. Continue Reading
IBM updated its FlashSystem product line this year. The FlashSystem 840 doubled the performance of its predecessor model, and the FlashSystem V840 added support for many of the enterprise features typically found in traditional disk-based storage arrays. Continue Reading
Kaminario Inc. took a significant leap forward with the addition of enterprise storage features, such as thin provisioning, inline deduplication and inline compression, to its K2 v5 all-flash array. Continue Reading
NetApp Inc. sells all-SSD options with its EF-Series and fabric-attached storage (FAS) systems, but the company is designing a new flash array from scratch in hopes of becoming a more serious player in the solid-state market. NetApp's FlashRay is due for general release this year. Continue Reading
Nimbus Data System Inc. has long offered all-flash systems that claim high performance and a broad range of enterprise storage features. The company is on the verge of adding a higher capacity option. Continue Reading
Pure Storage Inc. has added new entry-level and higher-capacity models and replication capabilities to the fourth-generation release of its FlashArray line. Continue Reading
Skyera Inc. claimed prices of less than $3 per gigabyte, with or without data reduction factored in, with its initial skyHawk all-flash array. The company said its upcoming, higher-density skyEagle will target enterprise mission-critical applications and workloads of cloud service providers. Continue Reading
SolidFire Inc.'s all-flash arrays to date have appealed largely to cloud service providers, but the company hopes the addition of new storage features this year will enable it to expand to a general enterprise IT audience. Continue Reading
Tegile Systems Inc. concentrated on hybrid arrays equipped with HDDs and SSDs until the release of its new T3800 all-flash model, which targets high-performance workloads, such as big-data analysis and online transaction processing, or OLTP. Tegile also continues to sell an all-flash version of its HA2800, which customers generally augment with hard disks. Continue Reading
All-flash pioneer Violin Memory Inc. stood out with its own flash memory module, flash-optimized RAID technology and flash fabric architecture. The company has now started to expand its focus from all-out speed to also encompass enterprise storage features. Product plans call for the addition of such features as inline deduplication, inline compression and replication. Violin also has jointly developed a Windows Flash Array with Microsoft. Continue Reading
3Opinions and advice-
Experts weigh in on all-flash arrays
We asked industry analysts and consultants to offer advice and delve into some of the fine points about all-flash arrays to provide a deeper level of insight into the product market.
Mark Peters, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., cautions again looking at all-flash arrays just because they're "new, shiny things." Features, capacity, scalability and ease of use will factor into the equation, but perhaps the most important consideration is the financial one. Continue Reading
Interpreting the performance claims of all-flash array vendors can be difficult because the test conditions vary widely and rarely if ever mimic the environments of end users. Dennis Martin, president of Demartek LLC, which operates an on-site test lab in Golden, Colorado, explains how to sift through through IOPS, throughput and latency for varying workloads, what to look for with block size and workload type, and when a million IOPS or microsecond latency might matter. Continue Reading