Tegile upgrades IntelliFlash HD platform with NVMe capability

NVMe technology priced for the mass market is very new, and Tegile thinks it has a differentiation by integrating this capability within its flagship array, rather than having it as a separate platform.

Narayan Venkat, Tegile’s Chief Product and Marketing Officer

Newark CA-based Tegile Systems has announced the next-generation release of its flagship IntelliFlash HD flash storage platform. The big news with this release is the addition of the capability to utilize Non-Volatile Memory Express [NVMe] within their core platform.

“We are announcing a next-generation version of our Intelliflash HD which we started selling a year and a half ago,” said Narayan Venkat, Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Tegile. “The flash market has been bifurcated. One vector is chasing performance aggressively, and NVMe has been a part of this. The other side has been chasing density. This version of IntelliFlash supports NVMe, while also having the highest density of flash available, so that we can leverage both.”

NVMe technology has been out there for several years – and has the acknowledged ability to deliver terrific performance. The problem for several years was doing so in a format that made any sense for customers. The vanguard here was DSSD, a startup which EMC acquired in 2014, long before it had any product. When that product shipped in 2014, it was a spectacular bust. It was way too expensive and was lacking in services. Dell EMC end-of-lifed the standalone product earlier this year, and will instead focus on integrating the NVMe technology into its platforms.

Pure Storage was next to market with an NVMe offering, their FlashArray//X, which was announced in April of this year when it went into Direct Availability. Pure is emphasizing the importance of democratizing NVMe by offering its NVMe at a small price premium over their flagship FlashBlade solution.

Venkat said that the defect in this model is that the NVMe offering is a separate product from Pure’s FlashBlade, while the Tegile IntelliFlash HD platform incorporates NVMe within it.

“We think that Pure is retrenching into siloes with their strategy,” he said. “The difference with our platform is that we allow the convergence of all this on one storage system. For our channel partners, this makes it a very nice tool for the channel to use to address multiple use cases. Positioning IntelliFlash HD is easy because it has both performance and capacity built into it, so it’s a different sell than standard flash arrays which focus on performance. This is built for the customer who wants to effectively build an all-flash data center.”

Venkat acknowledged that NVMe will increase the base price of the array – but said that they can make this up on the back side by being able to use lower-cost flash.

“One of our differentiating factors is out ability to resolve that cost challenge,” he said. “There will be a slight premium for NVMe in the short run. However, by being able to back-end our systems with low-cost flash, that puts us in a very nice spot. When we tether them to the low cost SSDs, we can get very attractive cost structures because of this multi-tiered flash architecture.”

The massive reduction in effective cost of NVMe should mean that its adoption will be relatively quick, Venkat said.

“We think this will take place relatively fast,” he indicated. “At this point, we are just embedding NVME inside our system, and we are in an NVME-ready state right now. We are waiting for the suppliers to provide the hot pluggability and dual porting that we need, and we can roll this in easily once it becomes available.” Venkat said that they expect full availability in September.

“What will take longer will be NVMe over Fabrics, which will take a couple years, and another hop after that will be to get to a point where storage is persistent memory,” he added. “NVMe gets so fast by stripping out the overhead and SCSI command set so you interact with storage like memory. However, when the fabric changes and the applications change, those will be larger impacts to data centre operators. Things take longer when you get the whole ecosystem involved.”

The high density has always been a Tegile characteristic. The new version of IntelliFlash HD has up to 500TB of storage capacity in a single rack unit, with 2.5x more capacity, and 30 per cent more density than the older version.

Tegile’s new IntelliFlash HD series is available although as noted, the NVMe capability won’t be evident until the fall.