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Better Hybrid Storage for VMware

Instead of forcing customers to move to all-flash arrays (AFA), vendors need to provide better hybrid storage for VMware. The challenge that any virtual environment presents to a storage system is the workload variability of the virtual machine (VM) population.

VMware has proven itself to be a reliable way to get the maximum value out of physical servers. As a result, organizations are now virtualizing bare-metal workloads that are mission-critical. As IT increases the number of these VMs, the performance demands on the storage system increase significantly. This problem is generally solved by deploying an all-flash array.

The reality is, however, that the VMware environment doesn’t just support these performance demanding VMs. It also supports workloads with more mid-range performance needs and other workloads that are more capacity-based than IO-based. Even the performance demanding VMs don’t need all their data on high-performance storage at all times.

Hybrid Storage for VMware

In other words, the workload variety of VMs justifies a hybrid system more so than an all-flash array. Why then are AFAs so popular? The AFA vendors claim that IT can’t risk using a hybrid storage solution because the performance delta between a flash drive and a hard disk drive is so significant that users will notice the drop in performance.

They are right, there is a significant performance difference, and that’s why our flash-HDD hybrids are configured with more flash capacity than any of our competitors.

A Better Hybrid Solution

However, a better hybrid solution is our All-Flash Array.next (AFAn), which uses Intel Optane as the upper tier and Intel Quad Level Cells (QLC) Flash as the lower tier. It not only provides a better hybrid experience than traditional hard disk/flash hybrid storage, but it also offers better performance than every all-flash array on the market. Additionally, it delivers that performance at a lower price than those all-flash arrays. You can download our performance report here, and you can price your AFAn on TRUprice.

AFAn Better for VMware

The AFAn is ideal for the mixed workload, storage IO blender typical of VMware environments. All writes go to the Optane tier, which delivers high IOPS and sub-half-second latency. The system also reads the most active data from that tier. AFAn uses Optane as storage, not as a cache, which means we have drive redundancy to protect from drive failure. To learn more about caching and tiering, check out Chris Evans’ blog “Caching vs. Tiering.

Hybrid Storage for VMware

Powered by Optane, those newly virtualized mission-critical workloads now get the extreme performance of Optane. This means the AFAn handily outperforms more expensive AFAs. For customers, this means they can virtualize more mission-critical workloads on fewer physical servers, driving down the total ROI of their VMware environment.

The advantage of using Optane as a storage tier provides time. Data can become less ephemeral and be moved to the QLC flash tier sequentially. QLC flash is less durable than Triple Level Cells (TLC) flash but is also less expensive. Sequentially writing to QLC increases its durability by 10X. The other advantage of sequentially writing to QLC is it improves the already excellent read IO. As a result, applications and users will notice no performance impact when accessing older data. In other words, AFAn solves the Hybrid performance problem.

Being powered by QLC, means that the AFAn is ideal for supporting all VM workloads. Less performance-critical VMs’ data will tier down to QLC but still enjoy a sequentially written QLC tier’s excellent access performance. With 15.8TB QLC drives commonplace and 30TB QLC drives less than six months away, AFAn customers will be able to meet all their capacity requirements using almost no rack space.

The AFAn comes with all the capabilities of the StorONE Enterprise Storage Platform. The AFAn’s vRAID delivers RAID rebuild times of less than one minute, can execute and manage millions of snapshots, and can replicate synchronously and asynchronously to dissimilar hardware. Just because you have an Optane powered AFAn in production doesn’t mean you also have to have one at the DR site.

Most importantly, an AFAn supports more than VMware. Being powered by the Enterprise Storage Platform, means that the AFAn supports block protocols like fiber channel, iSCSI, NVMe-oF and file protocols like NFS, SMB and S3/Object. After using AFAn to address all their VMware challenges, customers can extend the solution to manage bare-metal workloads like Oracle and MS-SQL as well as traditional NAS workloads. They can even address next-generation needs like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics.

To learn more about using AFAn on VMware, watch our on-demand webinar “How to Make Hybrid Storage Cool for VMware.

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George Crump

George Crump

George has over 25 years of experience in the storage industry, holding executive sales and engineer positions. Before joining StorONE, he was the founder and lead analyst at Storage Switzerland.

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