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Strategy for flash integration: HDS Malaysia

AvantiKumar | Aug. 28, 2012
Flash is expected to be cheaper in the next five to seven years, plus more than one million IOPS performance is now possible, says Hitachi Data Systems.

Johnson Khoo - MD Hitachi Data Systems Malaysia

PHOTO - Johnson Khoo - MD of Hitachi Data Systems Malaysia.

More than one million random read IOPS (input/output operations per second) can be delivered by a new set of flash technology solutions for enterprise and mid-range solutions, according to storage solutions provider Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) Malaysia.

Speaking on 24 August 2012, HDS Malaysia managing director Johnson Khoo said a series of products, based on the Hitachi Flash Controller, would also introduce Flash Acceleration for Hitachi VSP, derived from new flash memory management technology developed by the company.

"The flash acceleration feature is now available for the enterprise solution, Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP), which enables it to achieve more than one million random read IOPS," Khoo said. "This increase is about three times the performance of the current VSP and helps customers to increase systems consolidation and virtual machine density by up to 100 percent, as well as defer capital expenses and operating costs, while improving the quality of service for open systems and virtualised applications."

He said the new flash-based products will achieve greater levels of performance, scalability and capacity compared to solid-state products available on the market today.

"Up to now, the use of flash media to effectively support the demands of high-performance and time-sensitive cloud-based applications has been limited due to flash memory characteristics and controller performance," said Khoo. "These conditions have forced customers to make compromises in cost, capacity and resilience."

"Foreseeing this, Hitachi realised that the best way to incorporate flash media across the entire IT stack was to develop solutions based on original Hitachi intellectual property," he said.

"This development strategy yields the performance and end-to-end data management capabilities our customers require. The new flash memory controller designed by Hitachi lets us bring to market a series of products designed from the ground up to accelerate computing for big data and mission-critical applications and databases. These users require real-time processing, enterprise robustness, security and a small environmental footprint."

Using flash through the IT stack

"With this announcement, it's clear that Hitachi Data Systems is looking to claim a leadership position in driving the use of flash throughout the IT stack," said research firm Enterprise Strategy Group's senior analyst, Mark Peters. "Having direct access to the vast hardware engineering resources of Hitachi clearly offers the potential for competitive advantage and differentiation, while Hitachi Data Systems own evolving software management platforms provide the flexibility to place flash wherever it can maximise performance, reliability and cost effectiveness. Hitachi Data Systems strategy of incorporating flash as a part of end-to-end data management is an obvious difference from, and likely advantage over, many of the point-product flash offerings that are appearing in the market today."

HDS's Khoo said the company's flash roadmap spanned across servers, storage and appliances to allow compute acceleration, caching and high-performance storage media use cases. "The foundation of this strategy is built on the new flash memory controller developed by Hitachi, Ltd. with high performance and write endurance."

He said the controller's advantages include:

- Sustained throughput four times greater than current generation solid-state drives (SSDs) that are based on multi-level cell (MLC) technology.
- More than five years endurance for enterprise workloads.
- Inline zero block compression.
- Secure erase functions.

"The new flash memory controller enables efficient flash solutions that accelerate computing for mission-critical applications requiring real-time processing, enterprise robustness, security and a small environmental footprint," said Khoo. "These applications include indexing, OLTP [online transaction processing] databases, decision support, e-mail and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)."

He said a key milestone of the company's flash technology was the flash acceleration feature now available for Hitachi VSP. The new performance option raised scalability limit of VSP by up to three times, lowered I/O response time by up to 65 percent and on average allowed VSP customers to see two times more performance with typical OLTP workloads.

Multi-level cell flash price decline in the next 5-7 years

In his blog on 23 August 2012, HDS vice president and chief technology officer, Hu Yoshida, said: "Historically, the major inhibitor for the adoption of flash SSDs (solid-state drives) in the enterprise storage space has been the relative higher cost of SSDs versus HDDs (hard disk drives) and the durability of SSDs versus HDDs. These are two key inhibitors that need to be addressed before flash is ready for primetime in the enterprise space."

"Most analysts are saying that the price erosion for HDDs have slowed to about 20 percent per year from the historical trend that was about 40 percent per year over the last 50 years," continued Yoshida." At the same time they are predicting that the price for MLC (multi-level cell) flash drives is declining by about 40 percent per year due to the increasing volumes driven in the consumer space for smartphones and other mobile devices. These volumes come at the expense of HDD volumes, which have used their volumes in the consumer space to offset the costs in the enterprise space. At this rate, we can expect to see MLC flash become cheaper than performance optimised HDDs in the next five to seven years."

"HDS believes that flash is ready for enterprise prime time where random performance is a key requirement," continued Yoshida. "The current price gap between flash SSDs and HDDs can be reduced with the use of MLC flash, which has two bits per cell versus one for SLC (single-level cell) flash. This reduces the cost per bit by about 30 percent. Features like HDT (Hitachi Dynamic Tiering) can optimise the use of flash by moving only the hot pages of a volume into a flash tier while the cold pages migrate down to lower cost HDD tiers. In addition, HDP (Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning) increases durability by providing global wear leveling, which supplements the wear levelling within the drives to avoid hotspots."


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