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?Why All-Flash Exactly

StarWind Goes Rogue: HCA All-Flash Only

As some of you may already know, StarWind has recently announced that it becomes an all-flash company, particularly, with regards to its HyperConverged Appliance (HCA). Starting from March 2020, StarWind HCA comes as All-Flash only with three editions to cater to three broad workload categories. Some explaining is probably due regarding the decision.

It’s hard for people to let go of comfortable and dear habits of using certain things for particular purposes or behaving a certain way. But the world of IT is outpacing any biological evolution yet, which is why letting go of the old habits in favor of business agility is just necessary. Letting go of spindle disks in favor of flash is one such story, and here’s why.

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A Brief History Lesson

In ye olden days, HDDs were the only real option for primary storage; until 2008, when the first Enterprise-grade SSDs were manufactured. However, SSDs were a response to new challenges and didn’t really fit the same functional slot that HDDs occupied. Nonetheless, they co-existed organically, taking up different niches in terms of performance enhancement.

Like with any novelty, Flash drives were first met with skepticism, pointing to their high price/capacity ratio. They were also considered inferior to HDDs overall and criticized for their integrity. However, in 2013, Toshiba, Micron, and Samsung invented 3D NAND, which dramatically reshaped the perception about SSDs across the market.

The price of SSD production has been falling over the years since, while the capacity has been increasing. Flash drives became totally affordable and, whilst before capacity was the realm of HDDs and performance of SDDs, the latter now do better in both. Let’s stop listening to misleading gossips about Flash being expensive and irrelevant and just look at the figures.

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SSD vs HHD

Check Out the Difference for Yourself

The table comparing Flash and hard drives may seem garbled with (in favor of SSDs), but it’s actually truthful. It’s just that you have to put some effort into actually comparing the two by several most relevant categories (and not listen to old-fashioned misinformation). We did that for you, so let’s walk through the things that interest the decision-makers the most.

SSD and HDD Gross Comparison Table

  • SSD

  • HDD

Access Times

SSDs exhibit virtually no access time
  • 0.1 ms
  • 5.5 - 8.0 ms

Random I/O Performance

SSDs are at least 15 times faster than HDDs
  • 6000 io/s
  • 400 io/s

Reliability

This makes SSDs 4-10 times more reliable
  • 0.5%
  • 2-5%

Energy Savings

This means that on a large server, approximately 100 watts are saved
  • 2 and 5 watts
  • 6 and 15 watts

CPU Utilization

You will have an extra 6% CPU overhead for storage processing
  • 1%
  • 7%

Input/Output Request Times

SSDs allow for much faster data access
  • 20 ms
  • 400-500 ms

As you can see, the Flash access time is way superior than that of hard drives. There’s virtually no access time, everything happens “in a flash.” HDDs are excruciatingly weak when it comes to random write operations due to their architecture. SSDs are at least 15 times faster (6000 IOPS instead of 400!) when it comes to random I/O performance.
In terms of failure rate, Flash is 4-10 times more reliable than spindle drives. In other words, the difference in the lifetime cost of deploying a solution based on SSDs compared to one of the HDDs is negated by the number of hard drives you’ll have to change as you keep using the solution. The mechanical and technological reliability of Flash is higher and more stable.
With the Climate Change forcing the businesses to go “green,” energy saving is becoming an increasing factor in organizing the infrastructure of SMB & ROBO. SSDs consume between 2-5 watts, 3x less than HDDs. If we talk about efficiency, Flash takes up only 1% of CPU overhead to process storage requests, so you have 6% more overhead for applications!
SSDs are also eons ahead of HDDs when it comes to data access time: Flash takes about 20ms (!) only, while hard drives around 400-500ms. No further explanation concerning I/O request times difference needed. Now that we’ve covered the technological comparison between the two, we can move on to the most pressing matter at hand — the price.

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LET'S TALK MONEY

But What’s the Price?

The best way to compare various storage media types is by using the $/GB factor; that way, we can look at different Flash and hard drives from a business perspective. This section will visually let you know why you’ve been thinking that Flash is not cost-efficient, and that it could be used sparingly to boost performance only and not be the basis of a solution.

USD/GB SSD and HDD Comparison

graph graph

Indeed, way back in 2010, Read-Intensive SSDs were three times more expensive than SAS HDDs. But, as you can see, they are now at the same price level. That being said, Flash offers way more performance. 7.2K HDDs are not really up for discussion as they simply are not fit to be the basis of a shared storage or hyper-converged solution in the modern times.
With this in mind, compared to 10K and 15K SAS drives, SSDs offer more capacity, better performance, and higher endurance while being cost-efficient. If you’ve been impressed by this chart, wait till you check out the next one. Ironically, even IT managers, for some reason, are not aware about the virtually non-existent HDD/SSD price difference.

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SSD and HDD Cost-Efficiency Comparison

Drive and type

  • 2TB 7.2K SATA
    (3.5’)
  • 1.8TB 10K SAS
    (2.5’)
  • 900GB 15K SAS
    (2.5’)
  • 1.92TB SATA SSD
    Read Intensive (2.5’)

$/GB

  • 0.06
  • 0.20
  • 0.38
  • 0.21

Performance

  • Low IO performance
  • High latency
  • Medium IO performance
  • Medium latency
  • Medium IO performance
  • Medium latency
  • High IO performance
  • Low latency

Endurance

  • Complicated endurance calculation of MTBF.
  • A maximum 1 year of warranty. Expected failure of 20% disks in 4 years and 50% next 2 years.*
  • Complicated endurance calculation of MTBF.
  • A maximum 3 year of warranty. Expected failure of 20% disks in 4 years and 50% next 2 years.*
  • Complicated endurance calculation of MTBF.
  • A maximum 3 year of warranty. Expected failure of 20% disks in 4 years and 50% next 2 years.*
  • Endurance consist on 2 parameters DWPD, TBW.
  • A minimum of 3 years warranty from the manufacturer. High endurance for sequential workloads.*
*According to Backblaze statistics

According to market research by Backblaze, there’s only a $0.01 difference between 10K SAS drives and Read-Intensive SATA SSDs. That’s no difference at all for so much more that you get by choosing a solution built based on the latter. Consequently: yes, there’s no price difference; yes, Flash is far superior in performance levels; but what’s the real deal-breaker?

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The Main Reason for Going All-Flash Only

The mechanical architecture of Flash is actually the predominant reason why we here, at StarWind, have decided to redesign our HCA line to be All-Flash only. Exceptional endurance of SSDs is the basis of their cost-efficiency. Therefore, their lifetime cost and period of effectiveness is what pushed StarWind to go all-flash.

Talking about endurance, there are no moving parts in SSDs, which means lower risk of failure in vibration and high-shock environments or extreme temperatures. Their form also saves a vast amount of drive bays previously populated by HDDs, which leads to flexible scalability. All that goodness will now come at a price no different than before!

StarWind HCA All-Flash has been designed with different types of SSDs to be placed at specifically dedicated parts of our hyper-converged platform to offer maximum functionality. SSD types were chosen in a way that allowed to keep the price point at the level of a hybrid while offering way more performance and capacity at the same time.

Over the years, Flash has incurred dramatic transformation in terms of functionality, technology, and public perception. In just a span of a decade, SSDs penetrated the scenarios previously imaginable only with HDDs. With the current price point and performance/capacity stats of Flash, it will soon become the new go-to for infrastructure storage basis.

We are so proud that, once again, we were able to bring down exceptional performance, capacity volumes, and sustainability from previously Enterprise-mostly levels to SMB, ROBO & Edge realia. StarWind HCA All-Flash is a potent blend of Read-Intensive and Mix-Use Drives that achieves a perfect balance between performance and cost-efficiency.

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StarWind HCA All-Flash Editions

To replace the previous all-disk arrays, we created StarWind HCA Entry Flash which uses Read-Intensive SSDs. Capacity Flash will replace the StarWind HCA Hybrid line. The previous third iteration of StarWind HCA All-Flash becomes Performance Flash, leaving all the specifications as they were before.

A new generation of
StarWind HCA

Perfect balance between performance and cost-
efficiency. A potent blend of Read-Intensive, and
Mix-Use drivers.

  • Entry Flash
    Low-footprint IT infrastructures with several VMs
    and low storage requirement
  • Capacity Flash
    The combination of different types of flash gives
    you the best $/GB
  • Performance Flash
    No compromises, highest performing HCI
    platform*

Entry Flash is well-tailored for low footprint IT infrastructures with several VMs and little storage requirements. Previously, the Disk iteration aimed at higher capacity, but it sacrificed the performance potential for non-mission-critical applications and VMs. Now, it offers the right amount of capacity, great performance for everything, and room for scaling as you grow.

Capacity Flash uses Read-Intensive and Mix-Use SSDs offering the best $/GB ratio while offering uncompromisable performance really using only Flash in that array. You will be able to shape your workload intensity for any sectors of your IT environment with the needed amount of storage resources without having any drops in performance.

Finally, our Performance Flash is for those that desire unmatched performance and will tolerate no compromises when it comes to really offering your applications only the best of the best. StarWind HCA Performance Flash is the highest performing HCI platform available on the market while still being accessible in terms of pricing. StarWind Performance Flash is the climax of all the knowledge and skill we have here at StarWind. We use only the best elements in this edition, which allows using 100% of your underlying storage capacity at all times and for everything, leaving not a percentile of performance behind. Read about our recent world record in HCI performance.

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MOVE WITH THE TIMES

No Rest for the Wicked

We hope that the above-mentioned information, charts, graphs, and explanations were enough to demystify your previous perceptions about all-flash HCI solutions. StarWind has always aimed at taking the best IT infrastructure functionalities on the market and redesigning them into products that are available to Enterprise ROBO, SMB & Edge. If you have any questions at all or you are just curious to check out StarWind HCA All-Flash (any edition) in more detail, you can book a session with our pre-sales team, which will conduct a demonstration for you, provide you with necessary datasheets and calculate the pricing for your business’ IT infrastructure individually. Just click on this link to do that. Thank you for reaching this far in this long-read. We will continue to deliver stellar performing products further, evolve them and come up with new solutions previously available only for large corporations that will become accessible to Enterprise ROBO, SMB & Edge. Here, at StarWind, we’re working only with your interests in mind!

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