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

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Storage Technology Advances Drive Interest and Adoption for the Best Hybrid Storage Arrays

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"Hybrid storage arrays definitely offer the best of both worlds of HDD and flash memory storage,” Chuck Cook, research analyst and co-author.

With the introduction of the DCIG 2015-16 Midsize Enterprise Hybrid Storage Array Buyer’s Guide, it is clear that hybrid storage arrays continue to offer the best in hard disk drive (HDDs) technology along with the best in solid state disk (SSD)/flash technology. Hybrid storage arrays strike the right balance between performance, capacity and cost. By dynamically placing data on the most appropriate storage media, be it HDD or SSD, hybrid storage arrays provide optimal performance and capacity without the time-consuming, manual performance tuning typically associated with traditional storage arrays.

There have been significant changes to the Hybrid Storage Array market since the initial DCIG 2014 Hybrid Storage Array Buyer’s Guide launched in November, 2013. Nearly every company offering hybrid arrays in that initial Buyer’s Guide has introduced new models. And, as noted in the Small/Midsize Hybrid Storage Array Buyer’s Guide, a major point of differentiation between hybrid array providers is the maturity and configuration options of the data management software available on the array. Also, some arrays include features such as performance tuning and monitoring, Quality of Service (QoS) and capacity optimization at no extra charge while other arrays charge for various software features.

“Hybrid storage arrays definitely offer the best of both worlds of HDD and flash memory storage,” said Chuck Cook, research analyst and co-author of the DCIG 2015-16 Midsize Enterprise Hybrid Storage Array Buyer’s Guide. “This guide provides purchasers with an easy to use yet detailed view of hybrid storage array options, giving customers a powerful tool to shortlist solutions they will want to evaluate further.”

For the DCIG 2015-16 Midsize Enterprise Hybrid Storage Array Buyer’s Guide, DCIG, LLC evaluated 27 offerings from 12 companies. After an initial survey containing more than 90 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, scored and 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 data storage needs.

The DCIG 2015-16 Midsize Enterprise Hybrid Storage Array Buyer’s Guide Top 11 solutions include (in alphabetical order): HP 3PAR StoreServ 7200c; iXsystems TrueNAS Z20; iXsystems TrueNAS Z30 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 T3100, Tegile T3200, Tegile T3300, Tegile T3400.

HP 3PAR StoreServ 7200c achieved the highest ranking in this Guide for the best balance of strengths across all the scoring categories. HP 3PAR StoreServ 7200c stood out in several ways from competitive solutions listed in the Buyer’s Guide. They include:

  •     Scalable and Mesh Active Controller Architecture: Beyond the 24 drives that may be housed in the 2U controller enclosure, the capacity can be scaled non-disruptively to 500 TB through the addition of nine storage shelves and a maximum of 120 SSDs or 240 HDDs.
  •     Adaptive Flash Caching: Accelerates application I/O requests by extending DRAM to SSDs. This allows SSDs to be used as a secondary caching layer when DRAM is heavily loaded.
  •     Optimizing Performance: Through wide-striping, small chunks of data are placed across all drives in a system to harness their collective throughput.
  •     Automated Policy-based Provisioning: Storage templates can be created to include SLA/QoS requirements or use policies to automatically select the appropriate storage location. Also, APIs are available for use by 3rd party automation tools and a SDK is available for integrating with management software. These and other capabilities minimize or eliminate redundant tasks and free IT staff to focus on other business priorities.

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

  •     Provides an objective, third party evaluation of midsize enterprise hybrid storage arrays that evaluates and scores their features from an end user’s perspective
  •     Scores and ranks features of each midsize enterprise hybrid storage array on criteria that matter most to end users
  •     Provides a standardized data sheet for each of the 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 choices available to customers for hybrid solutions is impressive,” added Ken Clipperton, managing analyst and co-author of the 2015-16 Midsize Enterprise Hybrid Storage Array Buyer’s Guide. “The ones that win in this situation are the data storage users, especially those looking for dynamic data placement while freely moving data between one performance tier to another. As the price of flash continues to decrease and its lifespan is proven in midsize enterprise storage systems, it will be no surprise that the market will continue to rise well above the projected $10 billion level it was in 2014. We know this Guide will be as valuable in helping users accelerate the product research and selection process.”

Disclosure and Methodology
DCIG identified 12 companies that provide midsize enterprise hybrid storage arrays. Each midsize enterprise hybrid storage array had to meet the following criteria:

  •     Must dynamically place data in a storage pool that combines flash memory and HDD storage resources (and in some cases NVRAM and/or DRAM) by intelligently caching data and metadata and/or by automatically moving data from one performance tier to another.
  •     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 one PB
  •     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 previous Buyer’s Guides, 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 Guides, 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 Midsize Enterprise Hybrid Storage Array Buyer’s Guide is available immediately to subscribing DCIG Analysis Portal users at the following link portal.dcig.com/. Users new to the DCIG Analysis Portal may register at this http://ow.ly/Mg6uq to access this Guide.

DCIG Website: dcig.com
DCIG Blog: 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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Jim Nash
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