Bob Madaio

All Flash: The Joke's On You

Blog Post created by Bob Madaio Employee on Oct 5, 2015


Have you heard the one about the flash storage vendor?  Turns out, it was just a storage vendor, after all.


That, however, is not the greatest of jokes being told in the industry today, nor is it the main story. The real story is how customers are adopting flash storage. Rapidly. 


And while more storage solutions customers deploy for the next few years will be tiered solutions of flash and traditional magnetic disks, flash is what customers will be talking about.

So the move is on, the press is talking, companies are IPOing and the market is buzzing.


Expectations are probably a bit out of control, but there is clearly change underway and customers need help in this journey. 


They need help understanding when to tier data and when to go "all flash." They need help migrating and protecting all of this information. They are integrating all of this new flash storage into ongoing data center strategies and continuing their push to provide IT as a service. They are doing this while fighting the urge to use one-trick-pony flash as a tactical performance band aide, since they know such deployments inevitably lead to inefficiencies. (Just like Sify did.)


Yes, flash is hot and customers need help. The noise level has never been higher.


Now, that we’ve gotten that out of the way let’s get serious. Because you see, despite the fact that we at HDS like to have some fun with flash, and we have some of the premier flash technologies in the market, we tend to be outside of all that the industry chatter. And that bugs me.title.gif


Apparently, the "all flash" joke is on us.


Sometimes that’s because we don’t fit a specific definition of “all flash” - despite having the fastest 'all flash' system around. Being too flexible is considered an issue (for the trend seekers, anyway.)


I get it, we’re considered safe, proven. Boring even. I mean what's exciting about up-time, online code loads and data that's always available and performing as expected?  Especially when new systems offer so much, umm, adventure.


While it's annoying to miss out on the free headlines, to flashy (if unproven) new systems, that hasn't stopped us from helping our customers solve real challenges.


There are a number of great HDS flash stories available. One example is Coop Group, a major retail and manufacturing group based in Switzerland.  All flash. 432TB. Post deployment: their SAP end-users called IT to thank them.


Hey, that's pretty cool.



Another is a giant insurance company in EMEA. But with the cacophony of “all flash” conversation, this solution can be seen as decidedly uncool. I mean, for goodness sake, it’s TIERED storage.


This major financial firm was able to save money by deploying 5% of capacity in flash and having it cover 82% of the IO workload is pretty cool. The fact that this customer is using our embedded, active/active SVOS global-active device feature, clustering systems over multiple sites while averaging real world response times under 2ms is, frankly, pretty amazing.




But you don’t care. You want to hear about Flash. Heck, you want to hear about: flash, flash, all flash and more flash. So despite an amazing customer story, we still end up the butt of a joke.




We’re not a cool all flash vendor, I guess.


As I search for any last vestiges of HDS coolness, I remember that I haven’t talked about our flash business results lately, but maybe it’s about time. (I can hear you already, "Great, business results. Real cool, HDS.") This was something we did with regularity a while back, though, for some strange reason, once we started sharing our shipment results, most of our competitors stopped. (I wonder why?)


Since our most recent quarter just ended, I do not know our most recent results… so let’s have a quick peak at some metrics about our flash business between January and June 2015.

90ecd8eec3f42db1a437628c6e237a02.jpgTo start, I find it great that HDS has a repeat flash customer that purchased multiple petabytes of Flash capacity within this 6 month period. This brings them to over 14PB of total Hitachi flash capacity - the VAST majority of which is deployed in all flash systems. In fact, we believe these are the largest core-business-application supporting, all flash production workloads in the world. While this customer prefers not to be named today, let’s say this: they are online, you know them, and all their transactions run through Hitachi flash.


Heck, that's almost cool. But it must mean HDS is a one-customer flash business, right?


Well it turns out that HDS has over two dozen customers that added 200TB plus of flash between January and June 2015.  Again, I’m not in a position to name them all, but there is a heavy concentration of banks/finance, government services, tele- and online-communications services and assorted services/service-provider customers. You know, the kind of customers where tactical “quick fix with flash” mentalities are seen as unacceptable. Where they don’t 'fail fast.' They need to succeed. Fast. And globally.


Just as interesting, in the April-June alone quarter our top ten flash customers AVERAGED over 1PB each. These customers have seen the advantages of our unique Hitachi Accelerated Flash software optimizations and Flash Modules that were built to run without flinching - no matter what.


Of course, we also have MANY smaller flash deployments – some in all flash, but many tiered systems with HDDs. These customers realize tiered environments often still make more sense than all flash for their applications, especially given advanced "real-time" tiering like the new active flash capability within Hitachi Dynamic Tiering.


These smaller deployments are a critical part of the 120PB+ of flash that HDS has shipped in the 12 months ending in June. 


And yes, we think a larger percentage of these customers will deploy all flash arrays, and that tiered systems will have larger percentage of flash. In fact, we’ll be doing a number of things to accelerate that transition. Stay tuned to hear more from us on that soon. A lot more.



But for now, at least do me this favor.  When people leave Hitachi out of the flash storage conversation, ask how their numbers line up to the business uptake our superior solutions are seeing in the marketplace.


Inquire if you would about how they deliver non-disruptive migrations to all flash systems? Or deliver active/active multi-site solutions for flash systems support SAN, NAS or even object storage.


Ask them how they provide verification of erased data from SSDs or flash systems, ensuring sensitive data is removed and compliance is maintained.


Watch them squirm when you ask them if they can provide long-term, consistent performance like a VSP when their systems fill with data and are fully stressed - all while running advanced replication or clustering.


Or, smirk, and just realize the joke’s actually on them.