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Nexsan Unity goes all-flash but leaves NVMe on the back-burner

Nexsan Unity arrays already have SAN, NAS and file sync and share, and now add all-flash and policy-based archiving, but there’s no NVMe on the roadmap for now

Nexsan has upgraded its Unity multiprotocol storage arrays with all-flash options, Intel Xeon processors, increased memory, boosted capacities and bandwidths.

It also has integrated policy-based migration – Unity Active Archive – which can be managed from the array UI.

Meanwhile, Nexsan has decided to hold off on introducing NVMe capability on grounds of cost and fit with its customer base.

Nexsan’s unified storage arrays – which allow SAN and NAS access as well as file sync and share – have been upgraded with Intel Xeon processors, a leap of two generations from previous processors and a performance jump of around 6x, according to Nexsan founder Gary Watson.

Also, all-flash options of Nexsan arrays are now available in boxes from entry-level to high-end. And flash has become standard as an accelerator cache, with two slots reserved at least in all array configurations.

Now the entry level 2200 series can house up to 182TB of flash or 280TB of spinning disk (plus flash acceleration). The mid-range 4400 series can scale to 1.7PB with spinning disk and 737TB as an all-flash array. The high end 6900 goes to 4.6TB or 1.6PB as an all-flash array.

“We’re seeing a transformation in which customers are transitioning to flash as a mainstream option,” said Watson.

Read more about flash storage

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Unity Active Archive comes from Nexsan’s Assureon, which has existed as a separate product – with an object storage-based back-end – for the best part of 10 years. The issue was that the Unity operating environment was Unix-based and Assureon didn’t have a Unix client. Nexsan therefore developed one, and policy-based archiving can now be run from the Unity UI.

When asked about NVMe, Watson said Nexsan has developed a “24-bay NVMe product with IOPS around the 10 million mark about two years ago”.

“We just about got it working, but decided it was not our core focus,” he said. “We might go back to it later this year. We’ll focus on what we’re doing, but if we decide to play in it [NVMe], we know how to.”

“But to get the advantages of NVMe you need to transfer bare metal over the wire, which means NVMe-over-fabrics. Unity today has iSCSI, Fibre Channel and NAS protocols, so it’s hard to see the usefulness of that.”

The controller bottleneck problem

Watson also discussed the issue of the controller bottleneck to providing NVMe-based storage, with features such as snapshots, replication, data reduction and encryption.

“When you’re providing five to 10 million IOPS, you have to throw some serious hardware at those features to make them work instead of slow things down.”

Read more on SAN, NAS, solid state, RAID

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