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GreenBytes goes on SME flash array gig

Flash solidarity

Security for virtualized datacentres

ZFS-using disk array storage supplier GreenBytes has set out on a flash project with its Solidarity flash array offering faster than disk performance at lower than disk cost for small and medium business.

The Solidarity is a 3U rackmount, 3.5TB to 13.5TB, dual controller, iSCSI flash array, using inline and real-time deduplication and compression to provide effective capacities ranging from 15TB to 60TB. It says it provides up to 120,000 4K IOPS from its SAS-interface MLC SSDs. These come in 240GB, 480GB or 960GB versions and there are two SLC flash drives used for log files to enhance the write endurance of the MLC drives.

GreenBytes claims "data reduction, while variable, can be as high as a 12:1 reduction for certain virtual infrastructure needs and commonly between 5 and 8:1 for databases". The compression can be software-based and hardware-accelerated (Custom GZIP ASIC), and adds up to a 3.5X reduction that combines with the dedupe.

The company says it uses branded Smart Write technology to de-amplifies writes to the array by orders of magnitude. This increases its endurance beyond that of typical MLC flash used for file and block storage.

The Xeon-based (4-core Jasper Forest CPUs) dual controllers, each with 48GB of DRAM, provide high-availability – along with hot swap and redundant power supplies, with controller swaps taking a few seconds – and provide 4 x 1GbitE and 2 X 10GbitE ports. There is a GUI-based StorageManager facility for provisioning, iSCSL LUN creation and system monitoring. The systems provide replication for data protection, with network bandwidth needs reduced by the dedupe and compression.

In Windows and VMware iSCSI situations the array software can dynamically return thin-provisioned blocks into a virtual storage pool when they are removed from the host environments.

GreenBytes says Solidarity, which it says can be used for all of an SMB's primary and transaction-based storage needs, provides a 10X lower cost/GB than a disk drive array using 15K rpm Fibre Channel disk drives. The system can scale up with an expansion shelf to double its capacity and – according to GreenBytes – scale out with unlimited nodes. In theory 10 nodes would provide 1.2 million IOPS.

The solidarity array will be available, with pricing information, later this quarter. It will join Violin Memory, Whiptail, Nimbus, NexGen Storage, and Huawei's OceanSpace Dorado in the all-flash array game and be something for SMB system and storage VARS to use to prise customers away from Fibre Channel drive arrays. Exactly how Solidarity will compare on a cost/GB basis versus HP P4000 and Dell EqualLogic disk drive-based iSCSI arrays remains to be seen.

Also, these all-flash arrays have to compete with flash/disk hybrid arrays like the one from Nimble Storage – whose revenues are growing – and Starboard Systems, the re-invented Reldata. SMBs will be faced with four choices: all-flash high-performance arrays, hybrid flash/disk arrays for a mix of performance and capacity, traditional dual-controller iSCSI disk drive arrays, or the all-flash P4000 and EqualLogic configs from HP and Dell. ®

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