NVMe Beating Down The Roadblocks to Consolidation

Two significant roadblocks now face any organization attempting to consolidate down to a single primary storage system; workload IO variety and capacity. There used to be three, missing from the list is performance. While performance will always be a concern, the modern all-flash array can deliver the performance that most data centers require. The problem is that those all-flash arrays can’t provide that performance and workload variety and meet capacity demands.

The Mixed Workload Problem 

Most workloads require either high amounts of random IO or massive amounts of sequential IO, and a few need both. Most storage systems are tuned to be better at one of these two workload types. NVMe solves the mixed workload problem by being so fast at IO that it can cover either type of IO demand effortlessly and it doesn’t matter how the IO pattern is constructed.

The Capacity Problem

If the organization is going to attempt to consolidate down to a single production storage system, that system has to have enough capacity to can store all of the organization’s production data. One problem that NVMe does not specifically solve is the capacity problem; today most ultra-high capacity drives are SAS-based not NVMe-based. Also, considering that NVMe drives and NVMe connections are more expensive than SAS a high capacity NVMe system will cost more than a high capacity SAS system. The NVMe system will require more drives, making system cost more expensive per drive, which means more connections, and hence more expensive per connection.

At Tegile we fixed this problem by adapting the intelligent data placement technology that we developed for our hybrid flash arrays to our NVMe-based arrays. This technology optimizes data placement between a performance tier and a capacity tier and delivers exceptional performance by intelligently caching data sets based on IO patterns. We created a hybrid all-flash system which has an NVMe tier to handle the most active data, and a SAS-based flash tier to store less active data as well as provide enough storage to meet the organization’s raw capacity requirements.

But What About Hybrid Performance?

Hybrid systems try to balance performance and cost by using an inexpensive capacity tier to augment a smaller performance tier. The concern with hybrid systems is performance. Hybrid systems that are part flash and part hard disk do have a performance challenge when the data users access is not on the flash tier. The performance gap between flash and hard disk is significant. While overcoming this concern to a large extent by creating a large flash tier, many customers, because of the continual price decline in flash media have decided to go all-flash. In fact, well over half of our systems sales are now of the all-flash variety.

This concern goes away though when you consider an all-flash hybrid array where the first tier is NVMe flash and the second is SAS flash. The data recall performance difference is negligible, especially considering that the amount of IO that the SAS tier will handle is about a tenth of what the NVMe tier will handle.

Tegile Take

One of something is always easier to manage and support than 10 of something. A single storage system is no different as long as you don’t have to give anything up in the process. With Tegile you don’t. Our IntelliFlash line up not only can provide both high performance and high density, but it is also feature-rich delivering the high availability and data protection features you’d expect in an enterprise-class system.


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