Fast and Cheap Hybrid Flash SAN Storage

Storage continues to be one of the hottest commodities in the IT industry, and performance is everything. Therein lies the problem a lot of companies are facing when deciding on the right storage solution; traditional SAN array modeling calls for adding high spindle counts to speed up reads and writes. This proven system has been…

Storage continues to be one of the hottest commodities in the IT industry, and performance is everything. Therein lies the problem a lot of companies are facing when deciding on the right storage solution; traditional SAN array modeling calls for adding high spindle counts to speed up reads and writes. This proven system has been the mainstay of enterprise data centers across the world, however, so have the high associated costs.

Companies like Nimble, Tintri and Tegile are starting to turn a lot of heads in the industry with their new hybrid approach to the storage game. Where the current behemoths, like EMC and HP, use pricey high-speed disks and flash drives to increase size and speed, the hybrid model allows for array owners to fill the shelves with low-cost, high capacity drives, yielding the same read and write gains as the big boys touting cutting edge hardware.

It sounds too good to be true, almost gimmicky in a sense. However, it's no gimmick. The hybrid flash model takes all the heavy lifting off of the spindles, and puts it on the back of the storage processors. Companies like Nimble have developed patented algorithms to intelligently compress, package, and manage data in real time. This solution is not limited to simple file storage; it can run SQL database clusters, Microsoft Exchange environments and enterprise intranet workflows with the same throughput and IOPS as a multimillion dollar EMC array. The model also lends itself wonderfully to data recovery. Replication is quick and forgiving, whether backing up locally or to an offsite location.

One of the most appealing features offered by these hybrid solutions is a simple, easy-to-use interface. Provisioning LUNs on Nimble's backend interface feels more like configuring email on an iPad than managing an enterprise SAN environment. Customers have the benefit of spending less time training their IT staff to master the environment, and more time putting their investment to work.

Finally, anyone who has purchased enterprise arrays for their business is more than likely familiar with the horrors of learning, and worse, paying for the associated licenses. Hybrid flash storage companies like Nimble are taking confusion over licensing out of the equation; you get everything when you buy the hardware, end of story.

As noted, the hybrid model has started to get attention from all around. Big competition is getting nervous, and investors are pulling out their pocket books. News of arising IPOs are beginning to surface as a new wave of enterprise storage continues to flourish.