Unified storage array offers best of both worlds

15 March-2016:   File or block? Why not go for both in a unified array that can support both types of storage. These systems offer the ultimate in flexibility and, as our TechTarget Research survey indicates, one third (33%) of respondents considering a storage array purchase plan to buy a unified array to handle both block and file storage requirements. The flexible configuration of a unified array means you can divvy it up just about any way you want, but most of our prospective buyers — 75% — anticipate an even split between file and block; only 15% say their usage will be primarily block and even fewer respondents (10%) will focus most on file storage.

 

The motivating factors for new unified purchases are about the same as they are for dedicated SAN or NAS buys: by far, the main reason why storage pros are unified array shopping is to haul home more capacity — cited by 70%. Nearly half (46%) said kicking up performance for existing applications was their motivating factor.

 

The average unified system size by capacity that’s in our buyers’ sights is a relatively modest 181 TB. But 14% of respondents said their new systems would be bulging with 500 TB — or more — of capacity. Most of these system shoppers also have their eye on the future and expected their unified storage capacity needs to grow by 21% annually — at least for the foreseeable future.

 

Looking under the hood, survey respondents plan a mix of various hard disk types and solid-state storage. More than half will include at least some flash in their media mix; for the more traditional spinning side of the equation, our users leaned toward high-performance disks (49%) rather than high-capacity drives (32%) or middling performance disks (25%). The mix of flash and high-performance hard drives suggests that our users will be doing some caching or tiering in their new arrays.

 


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On the feature front, unified array buyers are keenest on systems that can scale performance and capacity independently (37%). File system size is also a concern for 36% of potential purchasers, as well as support for all the popular file protocols (19%) — NFS, CIFS/SMB 3.0.

 

 

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The speed and capacity theme continues with our respondents intended network hookups: for block, 43% need 16 Gbps FC and 69% are eyeing 10 Gig Ethernet. 10GigE dominates on the file side, too, with 56%, but 38% are revving things up with 40 Gigabit Ethernet.

 

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