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HGST plans all-flash and hybrid flash storage for cloud customers

Western Digital subsidiary best known as a drive maker plans to make scale-out, high-capacity all-flash and hybrid flash arrays

HGST plans to develop all-flash and hybrid flash storage systems aimed at cloud providers.

The product will be based on flash array technology acquired in the purchase of Skyera by HGST parent Western Digital in 2014.

The news follows HGST’s first foray into storage system manufacture announced in April, which saw the launch of its Active Archive system. That product marries object storage software from its acquisition of Amplidata with its Himalaya helium-filled hard drives in a 4.7PB system aimed at cloud and big data use cases.

Following on from this, the company plans to utilise its flash and spinning disk hardware with software acquired when it bought Skyera to create all-flash and hybrid flash products aimed at the cloud provider market, HGST CTO Dave Tang told Computer Weekly.

“Flash has most often been used for transactional and database use cases, but we are also seeing the need emerge for flash for performance-intensive cloud operations such as for ad servers and indexing,” he said.

“Such customers don’t want flash arrays with the kind of features traditionally offered to the enterprise, such as snapshots and mirroring. These aren’t needed in a cloud environment,” he added.

More on flash storage

  • The big storage array makers – driven by innovative startups – scramble to add all-flash storage arrays to their product lines.
  • Most IT departments that have deployed flash have installed it alongside spinning disk, leading array makers to create hybrid flash storage products.

Tang said HGST’s foray into providing storage systems, having traditionally been a drive supplier, was the result of new opportunities with the rise of cloud systems. 

He said HGST did not have the capability to break into the markets held by the existing array makers which usually produce hardware products with numerous storage features.

But Tang identified opportunities in a new class of scale-out storage for web companies that have so far been developing their own systems. “We’ve seen some ‘DIY fatigue’ among these companies and some desire for turnkey systems,” he said.

Tang declined to say when all-flash and hybrid flash products would be available from HGST.

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Snapshots and mirroring aren't needed in a cloud environment?
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In most commercial cloud storage environments, the service providers either have written their own software to manage their storage resources, which would include using techniques such as erasure coding for data protection. Of course, most cloud storage providers use an object-based file system which is often best served by erasure coding and similar techniques.
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