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HGST Announces VMware VSAN Support And Increases 12 Gb/s SAS SSD MTBF

By - Source: HGST

HGST, a Western Digital Company, announced that a broad swath of its products have been certified for VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN). The move to software-defined storage architectures is fueling a broad rethinking of the status quo for datacenter architectures, and VSAN is one of the industry's key approaches to migrating away from centralized SAN storage appliances. 

HGST has certified a range of its hard drives and SSDs to work with VSAN, giving users the option to leverage multiple interoperable storage tiers with HGST products in VSAN environments. VMware added a spate of HGST devices to the VMware Compatibility Guide, including the Ultrastar He6 SAS 512n, the C10K1800 SAS 512n and the C15K600 SAS 512n HDDs. We recently posted a competitive performance analysis of the 4Kn C15K600 in the HGST Ultrastar C15K600 15K Enterprise HDD review.

4Kn HDDs aren't included on the VSAN compatibility list, but this is due to VMware's lethargic response to 4Kn compatibility in general. 4Kn format HDDs are poised for broader penetration into the enterprise at large, but until VMware pulls the trigger, the company will remain one of the primary inhibitors to 4Kn's broader adoption. VMware has signaled that it will support 4Kn in the future, but it has not provided a meaningful timeline.

HGST's VSAN-certified SSD products include the entire HGST FlashMAX PCIe SSD family, the s1122 PCIe Accelerator, the S842 and S846 SAS SSDs, and the entire family of 12 Gb/s SAS Ultrastar SSD800MH.B and SSD1600MM SSDs. 

Mike Cordano, President of HGST, indicated at last year's HGST Press and Industry Analyst Briefing that a 2 million hour MTBF is the trademark of HGST products. He might need to expand upon that statement, as HGST also announced that the entire range of Ultrastar 12 Gb/s SAS SSDs are now also rated for a 2.5 million hour MTBF. The usual rating for enterprise SSDs is 2 million hours, so this represents a 25 percent increase in comparison to the majority of competing products. The announcement of a 2.5 million hour MTBF for SSDs follows HGST's recent announcement that all of its helium products are also certified for the higher MTBF period.

Server side flash is a hot segment that is growing much faster than the all-flash array market. According to Gartner's latest reports, server flash sales expanded by 51 percent, and server SSD revenue weighs in at $3.9 billion. HGST has a commanding lead in the enterprise SAS SSD market, partly due to its JDA (Joint Development Agreement) with Intel. The JDA combines the experience of both companies to collaborate in SAS SSD development efforts, and it also gives HGST direct access to Intel flash. Whether the supply agreement extends beyond SAS SSDs isn't disclosed publicly.

During a recent tour of Intel's SSD validation labs at the Folsom NSG campus, we spotted several HGST SSD products (upper right hand corner of this thermal testing chamber) among the Intel products in Intel's reliability testing lab. HGST announced the new 2.5 million hour MTBF rating in Ulrich Hanson's (Vice President, SSD Product Marketing at HGST) blog post, but the post doesn't indicate if Intel was part of the validation effort. With the existing JDA between the two companies, and our past observations of HGST's SAS products in Intel's validation labs, it's safe to speculate that Intel's labs were involved as well.

HGST still has a few products in its arsenal that remain at the 2 million hour MTBF level, namely the air-based HDDs, but it appears as if the company is transitioning to providing a 2.5 million hour MTBF for all of its products as it transitions into its all-helium HDD future.