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All-flash arrays are not new, but flash storage has suffered from a number of issues that has meant it has yet to replace high-end disk storage. IBM announced on April 27 a new family of all-flash arrays that address two of the most important restraining forces holding back wider adoption.

A seven-year guarantee on all MLC components in a flash solution removes customer concerns about flash reliability

The new A9000 and A9000R all-flash arrays are designed to provide a solution to service providers and large enterprises. The A9000 is an 8U module that comes in three size configurations (60TB, 150TB, and 300TB) and can be installed in existing racks, whereas the A9000R is a full-rack solution that can provide up to 1.8PB of storage. Both of these solution use MLC flash technology and also use the FlashCore technology to deliver consistent micro-latency, with a maximum latency of 250 microseconds. Ovum believes that this consistency and micro-latency address one of the key issues with all-flash arrays, which is that the varying read/write ratios and different workloads make delivering any service levels an issue.

However, Ovum believes the biggest change IBM has introduced with these new solutions is its seven-year guarantee of the reliability of the MLC chips. Organization can now purchase all-flash arrays and have the confidence that for seven years the storage solution will not need any expensive upgrades or maintenance as the result of MLC technology failure. The reliability of the new systems is further enhanced by the innovative use of a grid technology, with three grid controllers per flash enclosure. This means that if a grid controller fails, no data is lost and does not require a rebuild because the system continues to deliver the same performance. This aspect is critical for organizations where data integrity and performance are key measures of success.



Roy Illsley, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions

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