DCIG, LLC Announces 2015-16 Small/Midsize Enterprise Hybrid Storage Array Buyer's Guide

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Advances in Software and Hardware Drive Interest and Adoption in Hybrid Storage Arrays That Deliver Performance, Capacity and Cost Attractive Alternatives to Traditional Storage Array Options

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“It has never been a better time for purchasers of data storage arrays,” said Chuck Cook, research analyst and co-author of the Buyer's Guide.

The price performance dynamic has never been more apparent with the advent of flash to storage arrays. For customers, that meant choice, balancing data storage requirements with the right technology, traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) with the advantage in $/GB versus flash with the advantage in $/IOPS. Enter hybrid storage arrays, offering the best of both worlds, integrating flash while striking a balance between performance, capacity and cost.

There have never been more choices now for customers looking for hybrid storage arrays. While emerging companies were early to market, now more traditional storage array providers have introduced options of their own. A major point of differentiation between hybrid array providers is the maturity of the data management service software used on the array. These features, including Automated Storage Tiering, Automated Performance Tuning and Monitoring, Quality of Service (QoS), Capacity Optimization along with other software features are included at no extra charge. This is reflected in the release of the second Small/Midsize Enterprise Hybrid Storage Array Buyer’s Guide. As with prior guides, the results highlight more than twenty solutions reflecting a strong mix of newcomers and long-established storage industry vendors.

“It has never been a better time for purchasers of data storage arrays,” said Chuck Cook, research analyst and co-author of the DCIG 2015-16 Small/Midsize Enterprise Hybrid Storage Array Buyer’s Guide. “While hybrid storage arrays are still relatively new, the number of solutions available continues to rise. The ability to dynamically place data in a storage pool that uses both HDD and flash memory for a ‘flash first’ or flash-optimized architecture is extremely attractive. With the introduction of our newest Hybrid Storage Array Buyer’s Guide, we know this will give customers an easy to use and powerful tool to shortlist solutions they will want to bring in-house to test.”

For the DCIG 2015-16 Small/Midsize Enterprise Hybrid Storage Array Buyer’s Guide, DCIG, LLC evaluated 22 offerings from 9 companies. After an initial survey containing more than 100 questions was completed, product capabilities were assessed based on data provided by the vendor, prior DCIG research, and information available in the public domain. Products were then evaluated on more than 100 features. After scores were compiled, products were ranked Best-in-Class, Recommended, Excellent, Good, or Basic across functionality and capability relative to the other products included in the Buyer’s Guide.

The intent for this Buyer’s Guide, as with all DCIG Buyer’s Guides, is to provide an “at-a-glance” comparison from which end users can select the most appropriate solution for their existing needs.

The DCIG 2015-16 Small/Midsize Enterprise Hybrid Storage Array Buyer’s Guide Top 10 solutions include (in alphabetical order): Hitachi Data Systems HUS 110; iXsystems TrueNAS Z20; NexGen N5-200 Hybrid Flash Array, NexGen N5-300 Hybrid Flash Array, NexGen N5-500 Hybrid Flash Array, NexGen N5-1000 Hybrid Flash Array; Tegile 3100, Tegile 3200, Tegile 3300, Tegile 3400;

Tegile T3400 achieved the highest ranking in this Guide for the best balance of strengths across all the scoring categories.

Tegile T3400 stood out in several ways from competitive solutions listed in the Buyer’s Guide. They include:

  • IntelliFlash architecture: At the heart of all of Tegile arrays, it provides caching algorithms and metadata acceleration used to optimize performance.
  • FlashVols: The array also supports volumes pinned in flash memory, bypassing caching algorithms and guaranteeing that 100% of storage operations on a volume occur in flash memory.
  • IntelliFlash Metadata Accelerated technology: It separates metadata from the primary data path and stores the metadata on high-performance memory devices. This separation of data optimizes functions such as deduplication, compression and snapshots, while accelerating all I/O at the same time.
  • Greater Capacity Utilization: Using its deduplication and compression algorithms, existing clients experience up to a five times increase in effective capacity. As deduplication and compression occur in front of the cache, the array also boosts the effective capacity of 192 GB of cache, an already impressive amount.
  • Ease of Configuration, Management and Use: Real-time caching and automated storage tiering can be configured system-wide, per VM or per volume using either preset or user-defined policies. Performance monitoring application provides insight on a system-wide, per VM/LUN/volume, front-end port and disk pool level. Managing the array is intuitive through a web-based interface. VMware vCenter and Microsoft Systems Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) can also be used to manage data stores running on the array. Scripting recurring tasks is accomplished through REST APIs. Quotas can be implemented for users, groups, files and/or directories.

The DCIG 2015-16 Small/Midsize Enterprise Hybrid Storage Array Buyer’s Guide achieves the following objectives:

  • Provides an objective, third party evaluation of small/midsize enterprise hybrid storage arrays that evaluates and scores their features from an end user’s perspective
  • Scores and ranks features of each small/midsize enterprise hybrid storage array on criteria that matter most to end users
  • Provides a standardized data sheet for each of the small/midsize enterprise hybrid storage arrays so users may do quick side-by-side comparisons of products
  • Gives any organization a solid foundation for getting competitive bids from different providers that are based on “apples-to-apples” comparisons

“The evolution of hybrid solutions is impressive,” added Ken Clipperton, managing analyst and co-author of the 2015-16 Small/Midsize Enterprise Hybrid Storage Array Buyer’s Guide. “We created our first Buyer’s Guide on the subject just a little more than a year ago, yet nearly every array from that initial guide has been updated, and the winners are data storage users, especially those looking for dynamic data placement while freely moving data between one performance tier to another. It is no surprise the market already reached the $10 billion level in 2014, and forecasts into the future are equally promising. For that reason, we are confident this Guide will help users accelerate the product research and selection process–driving out cost--while simultaneously increasing confidence in their results.”

Disclosure and Methodology
DCIG identified 9 companies that provide small/midsize enterprise hybrid storage arrays. Each small/midsize enterprise hybrid storage array had to meet the following criteria:

  • Must support one or more of the following storage networking protocols: Fibre Channel (FC) and/or FCoE; iSCSI or NFS
  • Must primarily function using storage local to the array, storage expansion units and/or its direct peers and must function as more than a private or public cloud storage gateway
  • Must support scaling to a minimum of 12 disks and 10 TB of raw capacity
  • Has a maximum raw capacity of less than 500 TB
  • Must be available as an appliance that is available as a single SKU and includes its own hardware and software
  • Must be generally available as of February 13, 2015

It is important to note that no vendors, whether clients or not, for this Buyer’s Guide or all Buyer’s Guides before, were afforded preferential treatment. All research was based upon information provided directly by vendors, research and analysis by DCIG and other publicly available information and all results solely reflect the opinion of DCIG.

As with all Buyer’s Guide, they are not intended to be a substitute for internal testing nor was any product testing completed. DCIG encourages any organization that is considering the purchase of any solution included in a Buyer’s Guide to do its own in-house testing.

As a supplement to this Buyer’s Guide, all of the data collected for this Buyer’s Guide and all DCIG Buyer’s Guides to date are available through the DCIG Analysis Portal, an online data visualization portal. The portal provides more detail on what is available and can be accessed via this link.

The DCIG 2015-16 Small/Midsize Enterprise Hybrid Storage Array Buyer’s Guide is available immediately to subscribing DCIG Analysis Portal users at the following link http://portal.dcig.com/. Users new to the DCIG Analysis Portal may register at this link to access this Guide.

DCIG Website: http://www.dcig.com
DCIG Blog: http://www.dcig.com/blog

About DCIG
DCIG is a group of analysts with IT industry expertise who provide informed, insightful, third party analysis and commentary on IT hardware, software and services.

DCIG independently develops and licenses access to DCIG Buyer's Guides. DCIG Buyer's Guides provide actionable intelligence through comprehensive, in-depth analysis of data center infrastructure product features. DCIG also develops sponsored content in the form of blog entries, customer validations, product reviews, special reports and executive, standard and full-length white papers.

DCIG's target audiences include C-level executives, IT managers, systems and storage engineers and architects, press/media, magazine and website editors, bloggers, financial and technical analysts, and cloud service providers.

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