Top 8 All-Flash Storage Arrays Tools
NetApp AFF (All Flash FAS)Pure Storage FlashArrayHPE 3PAR StoreServHPE Nimble StorageIBM FlashSystemDell EMC Unity XTDell EMC PowerMax NVMeHPE Primera
It impacts customer retention because of its overall ease. When you are running a business, where time is a factor, that is the biggest selling point. Things happen really rapidly, when they happen, and being able to say, "Yeah, we can get this up and running in a day, if you want," or even less time in some cases. Sometimes, that can be what makes or breaks our case.
FlashArray has many valuable features. It's very user-friendly and it has high availability, so there is comparatively less downtime. During maintenance, there is no shutdown procedure, so you can directly power off the Array and manage the shutdown process without any data loss, which is a unique feature. Managing replication and data migration is also very easy.
We use all the features, but some of the most valuable are the replication, priority optimization, provisioning, and deduplication. There are a lot of good features in this product.
The most valuable feature is the NVMe flash storage.
The management software that runs in the cloud is called InfoSight and it is very good. It is similar to machine learning software that monitors your hardware.
It's very easy to manage.
One of the most valuable features is that it's very easy to use and configure. It used to be more difficult, but now it's almost flawless.
The high availability of Dell EMC Unity XT has been the most important feature.
I have found Dell EMC Unity XT to be stable.
We find the service level option to provision storage very valuable. The ability to define different service levels for storage groups helps us in prioritizing our workload at the infrastructure level.
HPE Primera is scalable.
The performance of the solution is good.
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.