Almost any article published today related to enterprise data storage will talk about the benefits of flash memory. However, while many organizations now use flash in their enterprise, most are only now starting to use it at a scale where they use it to host more than a handful of their applications. As organizations look to deploy flash more broadly in their enterprises, here are six best practices to keep in mind as they do so.
Much has changed since DCIG published the DCIG 2017-18 All-Flash Array Buyer’s Guide just one year ago. The DCIG analyst team is in the final stages of preparing a fresh snapshot of the all-flash array (AFA) marketplace. As we reflected on the fresh all-flash array data and compared it to the data we collected just a year ago, we observed seven significant trends in the all-flash array marketplace that will influence buying decisions through 2019.
The exhibit halls at the annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas always contain eye-popping displays highlighting recent technological advances as well as what is coming down the path in the world of media and entertainment. But behind NAB’s glitz and glamour lurks a hard, cold reality; every word recorded, every picture taken, and every scene filmed must be stored somewhere, usually multiple times, and available at a moment’s notice. It is these halls at the NAB show that DCIG visited where it identified two start-ups with storage technologies poised to disrupt business as usual.
Enterprise storage startups are pushing the storage industry forward faster and in directions it may never have gone without them. It is because of these startups that flash memory is now the preferred place to store critical enterprise data. Startups also advanced the customer-friendly all-inclusive approach to software licensing, evergreen hardware refreshes, and pay-as-you-grow utility pricing. These startup-inspired changes delight customers, who are rewarding these startups with large follow-on purchases and Net Promoter Scores (NPS) previously unseen in this industry. Yet the greatest contribution startups may make to the enterprise storage industry is applying predictive analytics to storage.
Non-volatile Memory Express (NVMe) has captured the fancy of the enterprise storage world. Implementing NVMe on all-flash arrays or hyper-converged infrastructure appliances carries with it the promise that companies can leverage these solutions to achieve sub-millisecond response times, drive millions of IOPS, and deliver real-time application analytics and transaction processing. But differences persist between what NVMe promises for these solutions and what it can deliver. Here is a practical look at NVMe delivers on these solutions in early 2018.
Early in my IT career, a friend who owns a software company told me he had been informed by a peer that he wasn’t charging enough for his software. This peer advised him to adopt a “flinch-based” approach to pricing. He said my friend should start with a base licensing cost that meets margin requirements, and then keep adding on other costs until the prospective customer flinches. My friend found that approach offensive, and so do I.
The all-flash array market has settled down considerably in the last few years. While there are more all-flash arrays (90+ models) and vendors (20+) than ever before, the ways in which these models can be grouped and classified has also become easier. As DCIG looks forward to releasing a series of Buyer’s Guides covering all-flash arrays in the coming months, it can break these all-flash arrays into five (and soon to be six) general classifications based upon their respective architectures and use cases.
Simplicity is one of those terms that I love to hate. On one hand, people generally want the products that they buy to be “simple” to deploy and manage so they can “set them and forget them.” The problem that emerges when doing product evaluations, especially when evaluating all-flash arrays(AFAs), is determining what features contribute to making AFAs simple to deploy and manage. The good news is that over the last few years five key features have emerged that organizations can use to measure the simplicity of an AFA to select the right one for their environment.
Many organizations are using all-flash arrays in their data centers today. When asked about the benefits they have achieved, two benefits are almost always top of mind. The first benefit mentioned is the increase in application performance. Indeed, increased performance was the primary rationale for the purchase of the all-flash array. The second benefit came as an unexpected bonus; the decrease in time spent managing storage. As organizations consolidate many applications on each all-flash array; and are discovering that data tiering and quality of service features are important for preserving these benefits.
Hybrid and all-disk arrays still have their place in enterprise data centers but all-flash arrays are “where it’s at” when it comes to hosting and accelerating the performance of production applications. Once reserved only for applications that could cost-justify these arrays, continuing price erosion in the underlying flash media coupled with technologies such as compression and deduplication have put these arrays at a price point within reach of almost any size enterprise. As that occurs, all-flash arrays from Dell EMC XtremIO and Pure Storage are often on the buying short lists for many companies. Those companies considering these two products can turn to a recent DCIG Pocket Analyst Report that compares these two products to help them make an informed buying decision.
Next-generation all-flash arrays will provide dramatic improvements in performance and density over the prior generation of all-flash arrays. These new levels of performance and density will bring the benefits of real-time analysis to a whole new set of problems and organizations, creating tremendous value. They will also enable organizations to achieve significant budget savings through a fresh wave of data center consolidations. But unlocking the ability of any next-generation array to deliver these savings depends on a key set of features that enable workload consolidation and simplified management.
The business case for organizations with petabytes of file data under management to classify and then place it across multiple tiers of storage has never been greater. By distributing this data across disk, flash, tape and the cloud, they stand to realize significant cost savings. The catch is finding a cost-effective solution that makes it easier to administer and manage file data than simply storing it all on flash storage. This is where a solution such as what Quantum now offers come into play.
The annual Flash Memory Summit is where vendors reveal to the world the future of storage technology. Many companies announced innovative products and technical advances at last week’s 2017 Flash Memory Summit that give enterprises a good understanding of what to expect from today’s all-flash products today as well as a glimpse into tomorrow’s products. These previews into the next generation of flash products revealed four flash memory trends sure to influence the development of the next generation of all-flash arrays.
Today organizations more so than ever are looking to move to software-defined data centers. Whether they adopt software-defined storage, networking, computing, servers, security, or all of them as part of this initiative, they are starting to conclude that a software-defined world trumps the existing hardware defined one. While I agree with this philosophy in principle, organizations need to carefully dip their toe into the software-defined waters and not dive head-first.
For many of us, commuting in rush hour with its traffic jams is an unpleasant fact of life. But I once had a job on the outer edge of a metropolitan area. I was westbound when most were eastbound. I often felt a little sorry for the mass of people stuck in traffic as I zoomed–with a smile on my face–in the opposite direction. Today there is a massive flow of workloads and their associated storage to the public cloud. But there are also a lot of companies moving workloads off the public cloud, and their reason is cloud economics.
While the overall economy and even the broader technology sector largely boom, the enterprise storage space is feeling the pinch. As storage revenues level off and even drop, many people with whom I spoke at this past week’s HPE Discover 2017 event shared their thoughts as to what is causing this situation. The short answer: there does not appear to be a single reason for the pullback in storage revenue but rather a perfect storm of events that is contributing to this situation. The good news is that this retrenching should ultimately benefit end-users.
The DCIG 2017-18 Small/Midsize Enterprise All-flash Array Buyer’s Guide weights, scores and ranks more than 100 features of twenty-four (24) small/midsize enterprise-class all-flash arrays that achieved rankings of Recommended or Excellent. These products come from eleven (11) vendors including Dell EMC, Fujitsu, iXsystems, Kaminario, NEC, NetApp, Nimble Storage, Pivot3, Pure Storage, Tegile and Tintri. This Buyer’s Guide offers much of the information an organization should need to make a highly-informed decision as to which all-flash storage array will suit their needs.
If you assume that leading enterprise midrange all-flash arrays (AFAs) support deduplication, your assumption would be correct. But if you assume that these arrays implement and deliver deduplication’s features in the same way, you would be mistaken. These differences in deduplication should influence any all-flash array buying decision as deduplication’s implementation affects the array’s total effective capacity, performance, usability, and, ultimately, your bottom line.
A few years ago when all-flash arrays (AFAs) were still gaining momentum, newcomers like Nimbus Data appeared poised to take the storage world by storm. But as the big boys of storage (Dell, HDS, and HPE, among others,) entered the AFA market, Nimbus opted to retrench and rethink the value proposition of its all-flash arrays. Its latest AFA models, the ExaFlash D-Series, is one of the outcomes of that repositioning as these arrays answer the call of today’s hosting providers. These arrays deliver the high levels of availability, flexibility, performance, and storage density that they seek backed by one of the lowest cost per GB price points in the market.
The DCIG 2017-18 All-flash Array Buyer’s Guide weights, scores and ranks more than 100 features of twenty-five (25) products from twelve (12) different storage vendors. Using ranking categories of Recommended, Excellent and Good this Buyer’s Guide offers much of the information an organization should need to make a highly-informed decision as to which all-flash storage array will suit their needs.