Research Library

DDN IntelliFlash – Product Analysis

Last updated September 27th, 2019 to reflect the acquisition of IntelliFlash by DDN from Western Digital. 10-page unbiased deep-dive into the product architecture and advanced features of Western Digital IntelliFlash. Part of new Evaluator Group research on solid state.

IntelliFlash is a storage product, formerly owned by Western Digital, that evolved from the Tegile systems. In september 2019, Western Digitial’s IntelliFlash business was purchased by DDN.

The system design leverages common hardware platforms with systems utilizing standard bridge-bay controllers and storage in a single 2U enclosure. Storage controller features are delivered through a combination of open source ZFS, combined with Western Digital developed features, CLI and GUI.

IntelliFlash systems are designed as general purpose, high performance storage systems competing with other midrange storage systems. The IntelliFlash systems compete against HP 3PAR 9450 and 8200 All-Flash Storage, EMC Unity, NetApp EF570, IBM FlashSystem, EMC XtremIO, Hitachi VSP F-Series and other leading all-flash and hybrid storage systems.

 

IntelliFlash storage systems provide multi-protocol storage with both spinning media and NAND flash solid state disks as cache in the hybrid models. In some configurations, an all-flash system is possible with all data residing on flash.

Target applications are those requiring high performance, particularly those with large capacity requirements. IntelliFlash systems are designed as general purpose, high performance storage systems competing with other midrange storage systems. Target applications are those requiring high performance, particularly those with large capacity requirement. Effective capacity with compression and deduplication is listed as 4X the raw capacity.

IntelliFlash systems are highly available (HA), providing all hot-swap components with active / active controllers with symmetric LUN access. This enables non-disruptive access during component failures and upgrades including host access paths or storage controllers. The controller firmware supports FCP and iSCSI block access along with CIFS and NFS file access via the HA controller nodes.

IntelliFlash software offers support for VMware Web client and vCenter plugins. The VMware support enables users to perform storage allocation along with performance and capacity management from within the VMware console. Additionally, support for VMware VAAI provides enhanced performance with VMware based workloads including thin reclamation, block zeroing and virtual machine cloning operations.

The ability to pin data into flash SSDs in their hybrid models may further enhance performance. Specific volumes or filesystem mount points for NFS may be designated as residing in flash. When pinned, data must be copied onto the SSD cache but will remain in the cache until the system is restarted.

IntelliFlash does support asynchronous storage replication, an included feature at no additional cost, which is a differentiating factor versus some next generation flash systems.

IntelliFlash is a flash-optimized storage software architecture that integrates multiple grades of storage media. This includes features for management, storage protocols choice, data services, metadata management, and media optimization.

 

 

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