EMC’s XtremIO all-flash array is already the fastest growing product line in the company’s history and is the #1 flash array on the market. The fact that this was accomplished in the first 18 months of release is pretty amazing. Now with the release of version 4.0, EMC has enhanced the capabilities and increased the scalability.
XtremIO is extremely fast and efficient. All data services such as compression and deduplication are inline and always on. This is extremely important as it is what makes the array not only efficient but also increases the life of the flash drives. EMC has increased the endurance of the SSD drives by 10x over competitive all flash arrays. They have done this by only writing unique data blocks, evenly distributing the data across drives, also performing garbage collection never impacts data services.
The array is also highly scalable. When increased capacity is required, a new X-brick is added, which also scales performance capabilities. Data is automatically rebalanced across all nodes and is available through any controller as they are all connected via high speed Infiniband network on the back-end. Additionally, metadata is stored in memory on the controllers, and deduplication and compression is global, so you can see how powerful and efficient this solution can be.
Finally we need to speak about data protection. Due to the way that the XtremIO utilizes content addressing to process snapshots and clone they are available instantaneously and “free.” What does this mean exactly? It means that snapshots and clones do not require any additional resources, as they use the same pointers, and are available to be used immediately. Only when unique data is written to the snapshot or clone is any space consumed. These copies also perform exactly as the original volume..
A fantastic use case is an environment with many copies of data sets used for testing, development, analytics, or reporting. The ability to use the instantaneous snapshots without impacting the performance or space consumed is amazing. The second thing that is required for data protection is replication. As of v4.0 native replication support is included with XtremIO. Utilizing the native snapshot capability, in conjunction with EMC’s RecoverPoint technology, replication can be done efficiently as only unique data is transferred over the WAN. This allows for a robust solution keeping Recovery Point Objectives low while maintaining the high performance required by an array of this type.
These are incredible arrays and the added features that EMC has introduced make it all that more compelling of an architecture. So is this array suitable for every situation? Of course not. Nobody is going to use an array like this for archiving or general file sharing and it is much more probable that a hybrid approach will be used. In an environment requiring extremely high IOPS, such as with VDI, these arrays are amazing, especially as the use case also takes great advantage of deduplication and compression. So as they say, your mileage may vary, but in the right situations this is a great solution that can scale as you grow without sacrificing any performance.
-Frank Mederios | Senior Systems Engineer