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Tegile Systems launches new lower-capacity flash arrays

Tegile Systems' new lower-capacity all-flash arrays add encryption support, enhanced application profiles and a customer analytics portal.

Tegile Systems Inc. forged deeper into the all-flash array market with today's announcement of two lower-capacity models that give customers the option of a reduced starting price.

The Newark, Calif.-based startup's new T3600 and T3700 all-flash arrays (AFAs) offer entry raw capacities of 9.6 TB and 24 TB respectively and use the same IntelliFlash operating system and data reduction technologies as the company's 48 TB T3800 product, which was released in June. List pricing starts at $220,000 for the T3600, $300,000 for the T3700 and $425,000 for the T3800.

"The reason Tegile and other flash players, to varying degrees, are getting into these smaller entry systems is to make the initial purchase an easier financial decision for IT users of all sizes and to expand their total addressable market to include more smaller IT organizations," said Mark Peters, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., based in Milford, Mass., via email.

Tegile Systems gradually expanding all-flash array portfolio

Tegile's primary focus has been hybrid arrays that combine hard-disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs), but the company has gradually expanded its AFA portfolio. Its HA2800, released in 2012, was the first product to enable customers to use an all-flash configuration, of 4.4 TB raw and 22 TB after data reduction, but most wound up adding disks later, according to Rob Commins, Tegile's vice president of marketing.

Commins said customer demand drove Tegile to introduce the latency-focused, higher-capacity T3800, which takes aim at I/O-intensive workloads such as big data analysis and online transaction processing. But, the T3800 can be a pricey proposition to replace a midrange disk-based system, he acknowledged.

"To spend maybe a half or a third of that in putting some flash in front of or next to an existing array is much more cost effective and can address the performance challenges that's probably driving the all-flash investigation," Commins said.

Commins said AFA vendors have long tried to get enterprises to take stock of the cost per IOPS over price per GB, but potential customers also need to consider the capacity-based price when they're replacing standard disk-based arrays.

"Despite what the flash-only vendors say, the cost of flash is not where it needs to be to wholesale replace disk today," said Commins. "We're in a real nice position, because we've got the hybrid piece underneath. We don't take a religious stance on this."

In addition to its hybrid HA products, Tegile released a T3400 "all-flash array with a hybrid twist" over the summer. The T3400 enables customers to mix enterprise-grade multilevel cell (eMLC) SSDs from Western Digital's HGST division, less expensive MLC flash drives from SanDisk, and HDDs. Commins said the eMLC drives have about 30% lower latency.

Commins noted that the T3600, T3700 and T3800 all-flash models use only SanDisk's "cheap and deep" MLC flash. The flash-only models use the same chassis, CPU and memory, and the main differential between them is the drive configuration, he said.

Tegile's AFAs differ in their entry capacities, but because they can all use the same flash expansion shelves, a customer can put 244 raw TB of flash behind any model. Tegile's high-density 4U enclosure holds 144 flash drives, and a customer could put two enclosures behind a single controller, according to Commins.

Tegile offers both inline deduplication and compression to help lower the effective price per GB. Factoring in 5-to-1 data reduction with the maximum possible configuration, the T3800's effective capacity is 1,680 TB, the T3700's is 1,560 TB and the T3600's is 1,488 TB. But, reduction ratios can vary widely based on the data set.

Tegile updates IntelliFlash operating system

With the launch of the T3600 and T3700, Tegile updated its IntelliFlash operating system. One of the key new features is encryption of data at rest, a capability that Commins said is particularly important to customers in the financial services and healthcare industries.

Other improvements include a reduction in the number of steps needed to provision a logical volume and the expansion and enhancement of application profiles to ease the provisioning of storage for Oracle and SQL Server databases and other enterprise software packages.

"Our midrange customers really like it because they don't have to get into the business of storage performance tuning," said Commins. "They just click a box and let the system do its thing."

Tegile also is making available an online IntelliCare customer analytics and support portal to give customers access to aggregated user information on system capacity, performance and behavior patterns. The company has long collected the data for its customer service representatives and is now opening up the information to customers, according to Commins.

Customer can buy Tegile's AFAs from resellers either via outright purchase, a lease agreement or a cloud-like, capacity-utilization model known as the Agility Pricing Program, where the customer pays for used storage based on price per GB before data reduction.

Eric Burgener, a research director at International Data Corp., based in Framingham, Mass., said the agility pricing model lets customers effectively rent capacity rather than buy the entire array upfront.

"Expanding capacity is easy in this model. You just pay for it and turn it on. It's already in the array that's sitting in your data center," Burgener wrote in an email. "We'll probably see more vendors, especially startups, implement this as a purchase option. It makes it even easier to buy and can shorten sales cycles."

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