SOURCE: FalconStor Software, Inc.

September 10, 2015 08:35 ET

Tech Alert: Updating Data Center Infrastructures With All-Flash Arrays -- Wisely

FalconStor Software Experts Offer Tips for Adding AFAs Without Adding Management Headache

MELVILLE, NY--(Marketwired - September 10, 2015) - For IT professionals tasked with updating and refreshing data center storage infrastructures, there are many first-rate all-flash arrays (AFAs) on the market that offer attractive density, performance, and value. In this abstract, experts at FalconStor Software® Inc. (NASDAQ: FALC) offer tips for integrating AFAs successfully while minimizing or removing the challenges of creating another storage silo or manually managing a separate suite of data services.

Unless a business has the budget and capability to shift all workloads onto a single AFA or set of identical AFAs -- most data centers will likely have a mix of AFAs, hybrid arrays, and HDD storage resources that each require management and support. This creates a complicated mix of tools, operational practices, and (usually) proprietary capabilities that actually increase risk and cost. Despite this fact, the benefits of AFA are compelling enough for this problem to be addressed and resolved.

One of the most interesting and successful resolutions to this problem comes from putting in place a heterogeneous, software-defined storage (SDS) platform that enables a consistent, unified storage infrastructure across storage platforms, regardless of hardware, manufacturer or protocols. The end result produces a common feature set that reduces complexity, eases the administrative burden, and simplifies integration. But not all SDS platforms deliver on this promise.

Clearly, the most compelling reason to add AFAs is for higher performance, but it will likely be one of several storage platforms, as not all workloads are optimized to take advantage of flash. While most SDS solutions boast about performance capabilities, it's unavoidable that any centralized storage management adds latency. SDS platforms that are tuned or developed with flash media in mind, minimize this latency pitfall through clever engineering, while also optimizing legacy, non-flash arrays. SDS solutions that offer high-end data efficiency and optimization features, like deduplication and IO path optimization across storage systems, can maximize utilization while ensuring the best possible performance.

The first challenge encountered when adding a new AFA is data migration. Moving or copying data to the AFA using traditional migration tools will almost always encounter performance and complexity issues surrounding AFA native thin-provisioning, deduplication and trimming functions. SDS migration features, if array-aware, will override or bypass the array's built-in thin provisioning and optimize data transfer (by not copying zero-blocks), far surpassing the efficiency of traditional block or replication technologies. Additionally, tuned SDS migration platforms will use private storage network transfer (or isolated IP), so as to not interfere with online, production applications. Following the initial migration, a good SDS platform will handle moving data among the various underlying storage systems non-disruptively, maximizing the price/performance value of the AFA by removing stale data, and maintaining the performance for applications that need it.

The second primary challenge faced when adopting AFA into a datacenter lies in maintaining key disaster recovery and business continuity SLAs. AFAs generally include (or offer as options) some basic data protection features, but those add to the proliferation of siloed tools and capabilities. Further, critical enterprise-class requirements like synchronous and asynchronous replication or always-on clustering are frequently missing. Among the best benefits of SDS, are data protection and continuity that safeguard data on AFAs without the need to use additional point solutions. At a minimum, an enterprise-class SDS platform should provide data protection, replication, and recovery, as well as be able to monitor storage and network connections and volumes to identify any failures, shift operations elsewhere, and keep applications and data available.

"Organizations that are expanding their capabilities with all-flash arrays benefit greatly from SDS solutions because they not only gain those important management advantages, they can disregard most of the array's own software features and focus instead on getting the best, most cost-effective hardware," says Pete McCallum, Director, Data Center Solutions at FalconStor. "When coupled with a solid, enterprise-class SDS platform, all-flash arrays can be regarded as extremely high-performance commodity hardware that can be brought on board with little to no disruption at a lower cost. An SDS solution eliminates the need to license and pay extra for the data services array-by-array."

For more about adding AFAs to the data center, see "Refreshing to an All-Flash Array" by George Crump, lead analyst, Storage Switzerland, at the following URL (http://storageswiss.com/2015/08/04/refreshing-to-an-all-flash-array/).

FalconStor's FreeStor™ technology optimizes storage resources regardless of type, connectivity, brand or speed into a storage resource pool and can be provisioned to physical or virtual applications. FreeStor accomplishes this by providing a massively scalable "storage hypervisor" coupled with a data services engine and automation. As a result, IT organizations are able to ease the provisioning and management of storage resources with the right level of performance, protection and recovery, regardless of their underlying physical storage assets. FreeStor is well suited for organizations using legacy technology and wanting to move to newer technologies, such as flash, or looking to leverage private or hybrid clouds. For MSPs looking to move data into their cloud and provide common data management services, or OEMs wanting to provide a full, robust set of data management services.

About FalconStor
FalconStor® Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: FALC) is a leading software-defined storage company offering a converged data services software platform that is hardware agnostic. Our open, integrated flagship solution FreeStor™ reduces vendor lock-in and gives enterprises the freedom to choose the applications and hardware components that make the best sense for their business. We empower organizations to modernize their data center with the right performance, in the right location, all while protecting existing investments. FalconStor's mission is to maximize data availability and system uptime to ensure nonstop business productivity while simplifying data management to reduce operational costs. Our award-winning solutions are available and supported worldwide by OEMs as well as leading service providers, system integrators, resellers and FalconStor. The company is headquartered in Melville, N.Y. with offices throughout Europe and the Asia Pacific region. For more information, visit www.falconstor.com or call 1-866-NOW-FALC (866-669-3252).

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FalconStor, FalconStor Software, FreeStor, and Intelligent Abstraction are trademarks or registered trademarks of FalconStor Software, Inc., in the U.S. and other countries. All other company and product names contained herein may be trademarks of their respective holders.

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