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All-Flash Storage Arrays: Feature Comparison & Guide

All-Flash Storage Arrays: Feature Comparison & Guide
By , Anj Bryant

This all-flash storage guide includes a feature comparison matrix listing out the available features in seven different enterprise AFA products.

In the enterprise storage world, organizations get three options to choose from when buying a solution to store their mission critical data.

Companies can go with hard disk drive-based storage arrays; the cheaper, older solution that stores files on components composed of moving arms and spinning plates. Or with a hybrid storage array and benefit from the built in logic that separates active "hot" data onto flash memory modules from less frequently used "cold" data that ends up going to local disk. However, the price for hybrid technology goes up as hybrid storage introduces more expensive, but faster, technology and performance.

The third possible storage option is what the storage industry calls an all-flash array (AFA), and it's becoming the go-to storage architecture for companies that need all out performance and agility to run their most demanding applications. Read: All-Flash Storage Vendors and Comparison Guide

Whether it's SSD- or module-based, AFAs benefit from the advantages that come along with flash storage. Speed is the most important factor and probably the best reason why AFAs are bought, but there's also capacity. Hard disk drives are reaching a limit of how big they can get. As of this writing, HDDs are at the 6TB range and are reliant on innovations like Helium-based tech or HAMR to keep the hard disk industry going. In the end, it's the HDD form factor and how much you can fit in it that will limit disk. Flash, on the other hand, is still evolving and quite frequently gets updated as manufacturers find ways to fit more data on ever-shrinking solid state components.

All-flash arrays may not be for everyone, but for companies like movie studios that rely on render farms for visual effects, financial institutions that need to crunch numbers in the shortest time possible, and researchers trying to find a cure for cancer, the investment in flash is importantly apparent. Initially, the cost of flash is staggering, but the long term result from the accelerated output is what the flash storage industry is trying to push: work faster, produce more.

2014 All-Flash Arrays: Comparison Matrix

For the all-flash array matrix below, Tom's IT Pro reached out to several vendors in the storage industry including EMC, Fujitsu, Kaminario, Pure Storage, Tegile, Tintri and Violin Memory. The following table is based on questions and answers that cover AFA architecture, features, management, technologies and vendor support, giving potential buyers a good features overview to help them make the right purchase.