Bob Madaio

All-Flash Storage: A Trick Or A Treat?

Blog Post created by Bob Madaio Employee on Oct 31, 2016

It’s October 31st, so of course three little words are top of mind for many of us.15677070272_000a58249a_z.jpg


Trick or Treat.


Well, this is true of course if you are young, dressed in a costume and ready to terrorize your household on a non-stop sugar high sometime very soon.  (Full disclosure: If you are looking for me later, I’ll be trying to corral the Egyptian god Anubis and a scary, mummy/zombie in the chilly New England suburbs.)


But most of us aren’t in grade school, don’t plan to go house to house looking for sweets and are otherwise dealing with our day jobs. This got me thinking about three other words that are quite top of mind for me, and how they might relate to this quite-scary holiday.


All-Flash Array.


A bit of a reach you say?


Well, right now in our industry customers are going vendor-to-vendor looking for that special treat that will help them get to their own sort of “sugar high.”


But instead of sugar, it’s the feeling of success, that first success when you find and deal with that particularly bad query or application by reaching into your candy bag and grabbing your first AFA to make the problem go away.  Or maybe it’s that euphoria around putting off a datacenter expansion because you took cabinets upon cabinets of old storage systems and consolidated them into a single all-flash array system. (For those podcast lovers who might be interested in whether all-flash storage is a market onto itself, check out this podcast from just last week from Storage Unpacked.)


That’s part of the joy of trick-or-treating: you get a different fun surprise whenever you reach into your candy tote. The benefits of moving to all-flash are similar and varied.


However, let’s be honest, some treats are a bit more satisfying than others. The house that gave you the “healthy” snacks?  The one, tiny Tootsie-Roll house? The full candy-bar house? (That one has you thinking about quickly changing costumes and coming back...)


The same, of course, is true from customer experiences with all-flash arrays.


Knock on Hitachi’s door, and we'll hand you quite a treat.  Our Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) F Series of all-flash arrays are built on proven technology, whether at our current entry size of a F400 to our newest, biggest model the F1500. The F400 can be thought of as a decent sized candy bar… the real-deal, but in a the “hey, we have school in the morning, let’s not go crazy” type size that will take care of a need for sweets, for now. Getting an F1500 however, is more like knocking on a door, having the home owner take your small candy bag from you and hand you back a pillow case full of the good stuff.


You might as well go home and take a load off. (And, perhaps, call your dentist.)


You see, that knock on a Hitachi door always leads to a sweet flash treat, one way or another and in Gartner's eyes, one that will challenge the early leaders in all-flash storage. The right materials are all there, and unlike reading the ingredients on most of the candy kids will be dragging home tonight (which I presume to be sugar, sugar, sugar and ‘other stuff you don’t want to know about’) your Hitachi all-flash system has an ingredient list that even helicopter parents can approve of.


heroes.jpgJust look at some of the a couple of the top ingredients…

  • Storage Virtualization Operating System 7.0 (consists of proven flash-optimized awesomeness and new in its NEW formula with deduplication/compression, improved quality of service, cloud tiering and much, much more)
  • New Hitachi high-density Flash Modules (FMD-HD) with automatic hardware-based compression – meaning they pack double the sweet goodness into the same space, automatically.


The best part about a VSP F Series “treat” is that you might already know how it works, you already know it’s mission-critical approved and it’s ready to deliver application-level consolidation or data-center level consolidation, depending on which size you are lucky enough to get.


Unfortunately, as trick-or-treaters will be finding out today, not every house can be the cool house in the neighborhood.  They’ll give you treats, but they might not be what you were hoping for.


Take that newly built house that gives only the purest flash. Sure, it’s packaged really nicely. The first one goes down easily too. But when you want that consolidator bar, that one that will fix all your sugar cravings, it’s not there.  They just fill your bag with more small bars that each need to be dealt with individually (or might be stolen by your little brother.)

Then there’s the big New England mansion on the corner filled with people all dressed as Texas cowboys this year for some reason. Every year they give out different candy. Sometimes you knock at the door and they just throw all the types at you at once. Other times they just look at you a bit confused as they wait for someone upstairs to tell them what the "candy of the day" will be. In the end, some of their candies are new and exciting but surprisingly unfulfilling, others are big consolidator bars but with a really weak ingredient list.


There’s the green rectangular house, you know they family that has sold the shed and the detached garage? It has access to some great candy, but mostly just gives out the cheap stuff.


The nicely networked house that sits in the sunny vale bought a whole bunch of solid new candy recently, but mostly still tries to hand out the same candy it has always had. Weird.


The list goes on and on… and proves that in flash storage, it pays to choose the houses you knock on carefully. Once you have found the house that's giving out the best flash it might be hard to bother walking further. Some flash trick-or-treaters have already found the best house on the block, like:

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  • DATEV, where the team claims to see performance that has "improved dramatically" and is running appliance-free active/active all-flash data centers
  • Wellmark, which sees improvements of 2200% for report generation, 440% for backups and 352% for import jobs by moving to all-flash VSP, and
  • Coop Group, where a 60% reduction in footprint and a 10X reduction in response time means applications (not storage IO) can run under a millisecond


This is just a sampling of the all-flash trick-or-treaters that have been knocking at our door. In fact, we had numerous customers buy more than a petabyte of flash each in just the last quarter, a handful bought 3PB+. Our largest customers are still on an all-flash sugar high from the 15 and even 30 petabytes of deployed production flash candy they already have. And HDS all-flash systems that were delivered to customers doubled quarter over quarter.


Because while those customers found more treats than tricks, we know that things in the flash world can get downright scary.


120868001_0c942ca870_z.jpgSome houses will - believe it or not - still hand you extremely sour candy, that despite having had four chances with the recipe they'll still tell you "we know we really need to double down on hardening the platform, improving updates, cluster expansions and other use cases.  We’re now on release 4.0.5 – and the focus has been squarely on platform hardening." Yeah, that's the kind of candy that causes major indigestion - imagine what versions 1, 2 and 3 must have been like.


Other houses play sweet music to lure you in, but every time you show up, you realize, when you come back for more candy, they may not answer the door.


And other houses don't even make it clear that they want to be in this Halloween storage world anymore at all given the fact that they seem to want to sell their house and just rent in a cloudier neighborhood. Goodness knows that they'll put in your bag.


Yikes, it is scary out there.  Bring a flashlight.


Halloween and all-flash storage have one more thing in common.


When walking around the neighborhood at night - or visiting all-flash vendors in the day - you need to balance the sweet and the scary. So when it comes to your most critical data, knock on the right door for your next sweet treat.  If you need directions, let me know...








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