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What features should you expect from all-flash storage arrays?

All-flash storage arrays were criticized for not including enterprise-class features. Do they have those features now, and what are the most important ones?

All-flash storage arrays were very much criticized for it. In the overall scheme of things, startup companies have the vision and agility to do something new. Larger companies are constrained by having to prove the return on investment and putting it into program management cycles and all that. Whereas startup companies say, "Hey, let's do this, it's really smart."

But when [a startup company] starts from scratch on a new storage array, features like snapshots and remote replication are not the first things to come out. These technologies take a long time to develop and test before they become reliable. So, all-flash storage arrays from startup vendors initially came out without those capabilities. Over time, obviously, we've seen a lot of startup companies update their products with these mechanisms. We've also seen legacy storage vendors develop or acquire flash arrays with similar capabilities. The arrays have become much more reliable and have higher capacities. These developments make today's all-flash arrays much more feasible for general-purpose primary use.

As far as the functionality you should expect today, you definitely want to have snapshots as a type of data protection mechanism. You also need replication, primarily for disaster protection and disaster recovery -- particularly asynchronous replication so you can periodically replicate snapshots off-site. Data reduction is also important -- many of these systems offer deduplication and compression to maximize the utilization of flash capacity.

Going beyond that, the next level is active/active stretch clusters. That's where you can really do a business continuity environment. And seeing that in those platforms is probably not complete. You'll see a few of the larger vendors with their implementations, but that's probably the next big defining point to say, "Hey, it's got all the capabilities I want."

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