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August 28, 2012


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Interesting thoughts Chad. I am interested in average lifespans people keep their arrays for. My previous company may run an enterprise array for 7 years subject to extended support being available. The same can be said of our customers. With that in mind what are the expected lifespans of some of this FLASH technology? I would certainly struggle to recommend a very expensive FLASH array to someone that will need replacing in three years.


Barry, I have to disagree with your assessment of Flash and the longevity issue.
You stated that you used to keep arrays around for 7 years ... 7 years on an array is actually very inefficient use of power, space and cooling...almost all vendors see a doubling of capacity drives every year for the same price, this means that after 3 years, the old 72 GB drives you bought can be replaced with 600 GB drives at the same price, 1 TB after 4 years, 2 TB after 5 years, 4 TB and evntually 8TB after 7years.
In the last 3 years, we've seen the Cache on the arrays 5 to 20 times larger than previous whic immensely increases your response times.
If typical storage cabinet is approximately 128 drives, with Raid 5 and some hot spares, your looking at 100 drives at 72 GB so 7.2 TB array, after 7 years, that array could be replaced with 1 drive.

I would consider changing out your hardware more often than you do. I've also seen a large increase in drive replacement usually at 4 year period. Not much different from the SSD drives.

We've recently added a tiered storage array and 3% SSD allowed for a 4 times increase in IO and response times under 1 ms. Our DBAs are drooling ... Can't argue with results.


Chad Sakac

@Barry - at EMC we've put the drives through the WRINGER. They have the exact same warranty and support model as the magnetic media. In consumer land, loads of the issues that people saw with SSD drives have never been an issue with the drives used in the enterprise arrays. In the early days of flash (EMC started shipping Flash in 2008), this was really only with SLC drives (which come at a large price premium), but these days, we support eMLC (enterprise-class MLC) drives - which just represents the ongoing downward price movement on flash (8x lower cost over the last few years).

Short version - move forward with confidence!

@Don - always great to have a customer chime in! I totally agree with your assessment. Thanks for the comment!


@Don thanks for the input Don. Trust me I fully understand efficiency and drive capacity arguments etc. I work in a mainly Education market where the limited funds have to be focused on delivering the teaching and also funding models change depending on which Government is in office. A typical establishment who have invested heavily in an array have data growth. This growth means they need to purchase additional shelves year on year so, you could argue, increasing their technical debt on the legacy array. As much as I agree about replacement after 3 or 4 years in the real (non corporate) world that is challenging when in the last 24 months the customer may have purchased $50k worth of shelves and drives.

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