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Combining SDS with All-Flash Arrays

Software-Defined Storage (SDS) leader FalconStor Software® Inc. offers a converged data services software platform that is hardware agnostic. Our open, integrated flagship solution, FreeStor®, reduces vendor lock-in and allows our customers to choose the best applications and components for their business. FalconStor’s mission is to maximize data availability and ensure nonstop system uptime while simplifying data management to reduce operational costs. Our award-winning solutions are available and supported worldwide by manufacturers as well as leading service providers, system integrators, and resellers.

FreeStor’s storage architecture simplifies the intelligent delivery of data services across cloud, hybrid/cloud, SDS, and Flash storage environments, permits IT managers to maximize storage utilization, reduces costs, and gains insight into operational efficiencies without being forced to replace older technology. FreeStor uses groundbreaking Intelligent Abstraction® technology that works across storage infrastructures — regardless of platform, type, or vendor — all at a single price.

Combining SDS with All-Flash Arrays

Array Challenges

All-flash arrays — a hot topic in data center storage — are strengthening the market position of storage vendors invested heavily in this technology. Yet, all-flash arrays still remain a niche in the data center market because companies are wary about switching from traditional rotating disk-drive storage systems. Discussions with many CIOs uncovered the following barriers to all-flash arrays:

  • Difficult to Manage

All-flash arrays often lack enterprise-grade management right out of the box. They do not provide a central management console to monitor, provision, and collect analytics. Other flash arrays do not include snapshot, replication, or other basic features. Without a suitable management system, new flash arrays would be isolated from the existing management infrastructure.

  • Expensive to Operate

Over 90 percent of the data in many data centers is not performance sensitive. In optimal environments, users move performance-sensitive data back and forth between flash arrays and rotating media. Although the majority of data remains ‘at rest,’ the data ‘in motion’ is often managed manually.

  • Risky and Labor-Intensive

To minimize the risk of moving mission-critical data across different storage systems, IT managers today engage external professional services at great cost.

The FreeStor solution is designed to solve the major problems preventing further adoption of all-flash arrays.

SDS and Flash: Destined to be Together

SDS is the answer for allocating flash storage resources in highly dynamic business environments. SDS is decoupled from the underlying hardware, permitting SDS virtualization platforms to connect servers and storage components, including all-flash and disk arrays.

FalconStor’s FreeStor resolves the pain points of all-flash arrays as follows:

  • Management

FreeStor’s virtualized intelligent abstraction layer creates a resource pool of unified data services regardless of platform, storage type, or media. The result is a comprehensive management capability for mixed technology storage arrays. The independent set of FreeStor management tools uses a broad, powerful view of the conditions within the disk array and its sub-systems, including data migration status, availability, optimization, and predictive analytics for protection and recovery management.

  • Cost

Cost optimization automatically and intelligently puts the right data onto the right media. FreeStor uses ‘HotZone’ and ‘SafeCache’ technologies to maximize cache performance and manage cost. The unified FreeStor manager improves the resource allocation of all connected server and storage devices by dynamically allocating fast flash arrays to the applications with the highest loads. Additional optimization levels are achieved by de-duplication and the use of high-performance caches that improve storage performance on solid-state and hard disk media.

  • Data Migration

Mobility enablement is a primary reason users are choosing FreeStor. Regardless of platform, storage media, protocol, or location, FreeStor’s migration is quick, non-disruptive, easy to use, and requires no software license for individual disk or flash arrays.

FreeStor SDS-plus-flash helps data centers meet hybrid cloud requirements. SDS enables hybrid clouds by virtualizing all storage resources regardless of device type. In hybrid cloud environments, critical data is stored on optimized flash storage platforms, and lower-priority storage resources are used for new cost-effective storage tiers.

Implementation

  • Integration

The most common SDS-plus-flash implementation integrates flash and disk arrays to create a unified management layer for moving data across storage systems without disrupting service.

The FreeStor SDS application runs on standard x86 hardware and creates a virtualized layer of unified, common data services between application servers and storage arrays. Higher availability SDS services are achieved by installing the FreeStor application on multiple servers.

Administrators manually configure selected applications, resulting in easy data movement between high-performance flash arrays and lower-cost disk arrays.

  • Flash Cache

The administrator will configure the flash array as a cache pool and the disk arrays as a storage pool. FreeStor’s HotZone and SafeCache technologies automatically read and write data to the high-performance cache pool regardless of application. This results in accelerated storage I/O for all applications and human error elimination.

  • Data Protection

Data protection for all-flash arrays is a mission-critical issue for storage administrators. SDS solves flash-array product failures by offering data protection features like snapshots, mirroring replication, and clustering that are equal to those provided by disk arrays. Because SDS supports heterogeneous storage, less expensive hard drives are well-suited, technically and economically, to support the full range of data protection services.

Going Forward

Both SDS and flash are surging in the market. SDS solutions allow system integrators to include flash in their business value calculations. The combination of SDS and flash multiplies the advantages that each brings to the data center. FalconStor predicts that these two technologies will accelerate the adoption of the other and together will soon disrupt data center storage strategies.

By Jimmie Chang / John Yang

Director of Asia Marketing / Vice President and General Manager, Asia, FalconStor Software, Inc.