The Hidden Gamble in Your Vendor’s All Flash Arrays

Gambling machine

Posted on Friday, October 20, 2017

The performance increase offered by All Flash storage arrays is a compelling reason for adoption.

No forward-thinking CTO is going to perform a hardware refresh, only to replace spinning disk systems with more spinning disks.

In recognition of this demand for speed, vendors are releasing shiny new AFF arrays at every opportunity. But there are potential problems with many of these new products that could be storing up trouble for your operations.

You probably aren’t achieving optimal AFF speeds

In the rush to market, many vendors simply installed flash drives in their existing systems. This delivered a much-needed speed increase, but also introduced a host of issues.

These early AFF systems are still built on the same disk-centric technology as their magnetic forefathers, which means they are not optimized to make best use of flash memory chips. Early models particularly have been affected by reduced performance – and reliability.

Vendors have been forced to reverse engineer their offerings, working backwards to improve flash compatibility. Which means they will never perform optimally. It could be that you, as a customer, may run into more problems in the future, including poor upgradeability, poor data reduction, poor efficiency – and therefore higher costs.

Are you an AFF guinea pig?

Even now OEMs are still re-writing software to include NVMe protocols, direct flash access, de-duplication and data compression features. Herein lies the biggest risk to your business.

Unlike your spinning disk arrays that are the cumulative result of years of development by the vendor, AFF arrays are very much a work in progress. AFF systems are effectively brand new – and your business is a guinea pig for the vendor’s retrospective developments.

An unhappy, but necessary trade-off

Unless your business chooses AFF arrays from one of the new pure-flash vendors, you will be playing guinea pig for a few years yet. As you plan your next hardware refresh, it is worth considering whether you should be making a change of OEM at the same time, if you are to realize maximum performance and minimal on-going issues.

For more help and advice, particularly about interim support when changing vendors, please get in touch.