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IBM Spectrum Scale, Tegile IntelliFlash use SanDisk flash

IBM Spectrum Scale Solution and Tegile's IntelliFlash HD provide software-defined software to go with SanDisk InfiniFlash hardware.

Two storage vendors this week launched systems based on SanDisk's InfiniFlash all-flash array for OEMs. One SanDisk partner was expected while the other came out of the blue.

Tegile revealed plans to ship the Tegile IntelliFlash HD (high density) array based on SanDisk technology last summer, and last month said it would be available in March. The surprise this week was that IBM became the third partner to ship an all-flash based on SanDisk's InfiniFlash System, following Tegile and Nexenta.

IBM and SanDisk will collaborate on an InfiniFlash for IBM Spectrum Scale Solution. IBM Spectrum Scale is a parallel file system for high-performance workloads. IBM and SanDisk position the dense system as a way for private, hybrid and public cloud customers to enable infrastructure as a service. They identify scale-out high performance NAS, big data analytics and OpenStack for files as prime use cases.

Both IBM and Tegile sell internally developed all-flash arrays. IBM has the FlashSystem platform from technology acquired from Texas Memory in 2012 and Tegile sells five all-flash models besides the HD array.

Tegile storage software added to 'just a bunch of flash'

The Tegile IntelliFlash HD array combines the vendor's 2U controller and IntelliFlash operating system software with SanDisk's InfiniFlash IF100 all-flash chassis. SanDisk made a strategic investment in Tegile in 2013.

Tegile IntelliFlash arrays start at 127 TB and scale to more than 10 PB in 42U of rack space.

SanDisk InfiniFlash IF100 is a hardware-only 3U base building block that includes up to 64 of SanDisk's SAS-connected 8 TB PCIe NAND flash cards for up to 512 TB of flash. The Tegile IntelliFlash HD combines that with a 2U box with up to 24 performance-optimized enterprise MLC flash drives for two tiers of flash storage. Tegile uses the PCIe fast flash layer as a large cache to boost application performance and deduplicates data inline across the array.

Tegile IntelliFlash arrays start at 127 TB and scale to more than 10 PB in 42U of rack space. Tegile rates it to deliver up to 5 million IOPS. The IntelliFlash arrays support unified storage using native block and file protocols with clones, inline data compression and deduplication, snapshots, and thin provisioning.

"When SanDisk first rolled out InfiniFlash, it was just a bunch of flash," said Rob Commins, Tegile's vice president of marketing. "There was no protocol support, no replication software, and no support for Microsoft, VMware or Oracle. We took it and added our software to it and have had customers testing it for four or five months."

Adding Tegile as a partner should aid SanDisk as it seeks penetration with InfiniFlash, said James Handy, a semiconductor analyst at Objective Analysis in Los Gatos, Calif.

"This is a coup for SanDisk, as there are so many all-flash arrays already on the market," Handy said. "Such a system would be most appealing in very large storage systems [as] a front end for a lot of slower disk storage. Depending on the workload, a flash array would typically be chosen to accelerate 10% of the total storage in the system or less."

With a list price starting at $475,000, Commins said Tegile IntelliFlash will appeal to customers who aren't ready to spend seven figures for an all-flash array. The IntelliFlash system is expected to cost $1.50 per GB of raw capacity, with Tegile presuming 3:1 data reduction ratio to bring usable storage to about 50 cents per GB.

Commins said IntelliFlash arrays won't cannibalize sales of Tegile's other all-flash arrays because the two platforms serve different use cases. Customers can replicate data from Tegile's all-flash arrays to InfiniFlash as a low-cost tier for backup and disaster recovery.

"Everybody wants to go to all-flash, but the cost structure remains too expensive for most applications," Commins said. "We look at this platform as an enabler for getting flash into environments that need high capacity, but at a cost that traditional all-flash arrays can't touch."

Tegile IntelliFlash HD helps MLB Network hit the curve

Major League Baseball (MLB) Network, a Tegile customer, has been testing the IntelliFlash HD array as part of its post-production editing system. Tab Butler, MLB Network's senior director of media management and postproduction, said MLB Network uses the flash array to run SQL Server databases, virtual desktop storage and to boot virtual servers from a Tegile SAN. MLB Network also uses Tegile's home-grown flash arrays.

"Having the IntelliFlash gives us more speed and performance, which is a critical component as we continue to scale up our environment," Butler said. "We are not seeing a performance curve that is impacted as we scale up our end user community. As a result, I can continue to add more and more infrastructure usage on Tegile IntelliFlash and we still get the same performance from all the applications."

Tegile this week also introduced the T3500 all-flash array with 6 TB of raw storage. Effective capacity scales to 18 TB with Tegile's presumed data reduction. Up to six expansion shelves can be installed in the T3500 to push usable storage up to 475 TB. The T3500 slots between the entry level T3400 and midrange T3600 all-flash arrays.

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