Flash-focused Array Architectures Enable New Workloads, Driving Economic Benefits for Customers

Flash-enabled storage architectures have been in existence for a few years now. They underpin the Modern Data Center, which comprises a shared infrastructure resource model governed by policy-based service quality and automated enforcement of service level objectives. Flash boosts the ability of a storage system to scale linearly in terms of capacity and performance. Flash also vastly improves the predictability of the storage system.flash architecture

Some suppliers, such as EMC, are pioneering the task of completely re-engineering their storage systems across the board, starting with flash as a caching layer and more recently as the persistence tier. Architecturally, it serves customers well because of the combination of superior performance characteristics of flash and the system design itself.  Such storage systems are pervasive in existing workflows and can scale well for newer workflows, like business analytics.

With newer silicon technologies and “under the hood” software modifications to support high-density and low-cost flash, suppliers can now introduce capabilities like “always-on” data optimization, integrated copy data management, and deep application integration. These capabilities were first available in purpose-built all-flash arrays, and EMC is leading the market in extending existing array architectures to best take advantage of flash. EMC has built the VMAX All Flash to support high-capacity/low-cost flash drives, and tuned the global cache to improve performance while simultaneously improving flash endurance.  It has as well incorporated advanced analytics to optimize and balance IOs across high-capacity flash devices.

Arrays like the VMAX All Flash work well in modern, fully-automated virtual data centers, where the storage system acts as a data-management continuum, not just a singular or disparate infrastructure resource. Services such as integrated copy data management, mixed workload lifecycle management, and automated service levels line up well along this continuum. Integrated copy data management, for example, is a big deal because of the increased demands that the line of business places on IT for timely creation and ongoing management of secondary data copies used for development, test, analytics, reporting, and local recovery.

The VMAX All Flash supports mixed workflows effortlessly, while delivering newer data optimization and integrated copy data management capabilities. The system architecture delivers gigantic scale, allowing users to drive massive levels of consolidation and efficiency by consolidating tens of thousands of workloads. Multicore CPUs drive high IOPS and massive front and back-end bandwidth. This enables movement of large data sets and allows performance-hungry apps to realize the benefits of flash technology.

The VMAX All Flash Hypermax OS has been completely re-engineered for flash. The result of this re-engineering (that IDC refers to as “Flash Tuning”) is an average response time of under 500 microseconds for transactional workloads (such as databases), with a typical mix of read/writes, block sizes, and cache hits. This translates into more transactions and faster queries to satisfy demanding business workloads. Organizations can now run workloads such as business analytics, in-place, without having to move the data to another tier or platform. This gives them much faster insight into the data, empowering them to make better business decisions.

Additionally, database and financial system workloads can shift throughout the day from OLTP small chunk transactions during the workday to DSS large chunk transactions in the evening with the added duty of performing backup operations.   This requires the kind of scale and workload adaptable agility that could never have been delivered by a retrofitted flash storage system.  The new Unisphere management UI has been updated too.  Service levels are simplified to enable quick storage provisioning with advanced validation algorithms to ensure that the application will get the consistent performance it requires.

Flash has compelled storage suppliers like EMC to go back to the drawing board – to re-engineer storage architectures and capitalize on the transformational value of flash. The results are systems like the VMAX All Flash, which delivers unprecedented levels of performance and scale while bringing the gold standard of VMAX services that customers have come to rely on.

To see how flash is unlocking innovation around the world, please click here to download the IDC Flash adoption brief, or take your own survey and find out how you compare.

About the Author: Ashish Nadkarni