Dell EMC XtremIO Review

NetApp vs. XtremIO vs. HDS

Flash and Hybrid block arrays

Flash has changed storage forever and almost every new array purchase needs to have some degree of flash included, so the market now offers three distinct types of array:

  • Hybrid - Exploits the performance of flash and the lower cost of HDDs
  • All-Flash hybrid - Packaged to deliver a low cost per GB of flash
  • Ground-up design - Purely designed for flash with no support for HDDs

As always there is a huge range of price points, due to the architecture, features and performance scaling, for these arrays. Efficiency features are critical in some use cases (i.e. VDI), but less so in many others and performance scaling for the majority of solutions is substantially higher than legacy arrays built just for HDDs.

Historically array performance scaling was limited to the number of HDDs that it could support (i.e. the drives were the bottleneck), with Flash the drives are so fast the bottleneck moves to the controllers. The result of this is that the entry-level arrays will not scale performance beyond 20-30 SSDs so it is very important to have an idea of your ultimate performance scaling requirements.

For most use cases today a hybrid array that has been optimised for flash is the best fit, but there are certainly workloads that need the capabilities of a ground-up all-flash design. As always your requirements and budget will dictate the best fit so let’s take a look at what EMC, HDS and NetApp have to offer:

Type Hybrid/All-Flash Hybrid Ground-up Design Hybrid Hybrid/All-Flash Hybrid Hybrid/All-Flash Hybrid
Largest Flash Drive 800 GB eMLC 800 GB eMLC 400 GB eMLC
1.6 TB FMD (150)/3.2 TB FMD (VM)
1.6 TB eMLC 1.6 TB eMLC
Replacement of drives under maintenance when write limit reached No Yes No (SSD)
Yes (FMD)
Yes Yes
FC, FCoE & iSCSI Yes FC and iSCSI FC and iSCSI (100)
Yes FC and iSCSI (E2700)
FC or iSCSI (E5500/EF550)
Writeable Snapshots Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Integrated Remote Replication Yes No Yes Yes Yes
De-duplication Optional (Post) Always On (Inline) No Optional (Post) No
Compression Optional (Post) Always On (Inline) No (Inline for FMDs) Optional (Inline or Post) No
Thin Provisioning Optional Always On Optional Optional Optional
Flash Caching of HDDs Yes N/A No Yes Reads (E-Series)
N/A (EF-Series)
Auto-Tiering (Up to 3 tiers) Yes N/A Yes No No (E-Series)
N/A (EF-Series)

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**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We are Partners with NetApp and EMC.
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