Earlier this year SanDisk® announced a revolutionary storage system that pioneered a new market category – Big Data Flash – and the concept of a scalable software-defined all-flash system. With more OEMs adopting the InfiniFlash™ system, alongside last month’s all-flash array IT Awards win, I wanted to take the time to share our viewpoint on this space and what prompted us to create the InfiniFlash system.

Petabytes Don’t Scale Easily

No compromise at petabyte-scale is what we were after with InfiniFlash. We are living in an era when enterprises and cloud service providers are being asked to manage more data and more simultaneous transactions while minimizing latency and downtime in the quest for ever-better performance.

Unfortunately, Petabyte-scale deployments are full of compromises. Space, heating, power, cooling, reliability, cost and simplicity all have to be traded off against each other—and against overall performance—with HDD arrays. Likewise, the vast majority of monolithic all-flash arrays available in the market also force you to accept compromises: pre-fixed ratio of compute to storage, lack of true scalability (limited scalability to a few petabytes), vendor lock-in into proprietary hardware and software stacks and the dreaded, long-term contracts for support and maintenance on old technology.

And I haven’t even mentioned the biggest compromise of all – very high cost. Customers are sometimes paying upwards of $3/GB after deduplication and compression.

Rethinking The Array

InfiniFlash breaks through this dilemma by delivering high-performance, high density, low power, highly scalable all flash system with breakthrough economics. We rethought virtually every aspect of array design, from the connectors to controller-to-storage ratios. The result? A 3U system that starts at 64TB and can hold up to 512TB—an industry first—that can be scaled up or down thanks to a new flash form factor delivering 8TB flash card. InfiniFlash provides up to 1M IOPS and up to 8GB/s high bandwidth.

Our deep dive on storage design also allowed us to achieve breakthrough economics. InfiniFlash solutions are available starting at <$1/GB before dedup and compression. Assuming a 3X data reduction ratio available on various supported software stacks, this brings the net effective $/GB to 33c/GB while delivering a level of unprecedented affordability. Data centers can now accelerate traditional Tier 1 workloads all the way to workloads they never anticipated putting on flash such as backup and active archival.

The economic benefits, however, cascade far beyond the cost of the array. The greater performance enables enterprises to consolidate workloads. IDC’s Eric Burgener estimated in a recent webinar that 50% to 80% of storage hardware and 5% to 30% of servers, along with software server licensing, can be eliminated due to the faster data throughput enabled by flash.

Disaggregation: Best In Class Building Blocks

At the same time, we’re growing an ecosystem with leading software developers and hardware partners to give people greater choice and flexibility. The days of the monolithic array are numbered. Customers now want software-defined infrastructures based around best-in-breed components and subsystems that can be optimized for performance, capacity or even multiple-mode workloads. . And they want it backed by enterprise-class service and support in terms that work for them.

Our software partners include leaders like Nexenta, Redhat, Datacore and Cloudbyte while hardware ecosystem includes supported vendors such as Dell, Tegile, Supermicro, Quanta, Mellanox, Qlogic and more. SanDisk is also an active contributor to and board member of CEPH to leverage the power of open source in storage. And all of this is supported by a seamless 24/7 support model and a parts logistics model that can provide up to 2 hour parts delivery at more than 750 locations across the world. A truly world-class enterprise storage systems that customers can rely on for their mission critical data center operations.

We expect to break open a new era of application acceleration and Big Data mining and analysis with the introduction of software-defined all-flash systems that enable data center experiences and insights never before thought possible.

A History of Innovation, a Future of New Possibilities

SanDisk has been behind a number of technology firsts. We developed the world’s first flash-based solid state drive, CompactFlash, SD card (together with Panasonic and Toshiba), high volume MLC, the world’s most advanced 15 nanometer NAND flash process and created the market for PCIe application accelerators (Fusion-io).  With InfiniFlash, we put together all of the elements together to bring you an all flash system so that you could accelerate workloads and generate new insights from data, maybe for the very first time in your data center.

So what “world’s first” are you going to do with InfiniFlash?

Join Us at the Gartner Event in Las Vegas

If you’re at the Gartner Data Center, Infrastructure & Operations Management Conference this week in Las Vegas make sure to stop by SanDisk booth #153 to learn more about how we’re transforming the data center with flash.

I’ll be joining our partners Nexenta for a live webinar streamed from the Gartner event on the First OpenSDS-driven All-Flash Array with the Best Cost Performance Metrics. Join us on Tuesday, December 9, 2015 at 9:00 AM PDT – Register here.


Ravi has 17+ yrs of broad-based tech expertise and served as SanDisk's (acquired by Western Digital) VP & GM, Systems and Software Solutions