FreeNAS Certified All-Flash Array: the ideal balance of capacity, durability, and price


March 31, 2017

Many of you may have seen iXsystems’ recent announcement on the availability of a FreeNAS Certified 10TB all-flash, enterprise-class storage array for under $10,000. This should be welcome news for many small and medium-sized enterprises that would like to deploy flash storage arrays to support their performance-driven use cases but are unable to because of budgetary constraints.
As compelling as the price point is, it is also important to note that it was not the only thing we focused on as there were also other considerations taken throughout the design of this platform. Let me dive deeper into one of these considerations. It is well-known that solid state storage (SSD) delivers substantially higher IOPS and better latency than traditional hard disk drives. But there is also a downside; SSDs have a finite number of write/erase cycles.
There is an SSD endurance metric known as drive writes per day (DWPD). This rating indicates how many times the entire capacity of the SSD can be overwritten before it no longer is reliable. SSDs with low DWPD ratings are not designed for frequent write/erase but are well-suited for read intensive workloads. On the other hand, SSDs with high DWPD ratings can sustain high numbers of write/erase cycles; thus they are ideal for certain write intensive workloads.
SSDs with a high DWPD rating also come at a higher cost, but you should not use SSDs with low DWPD ratings with write intensive workloads. There is a very high probability that these SSDs will fail early in their deployment life. Similarly, applications that are highly read intensive would not require the high endurance and higher price of SSDs with a high DWPD rating.
During the design of the FreeNAS Certified All-Flash Array (AFA), our engineering team identified four common workloads. As a result, we can specify a number of different SSDs at different price points and different endurance levels for use in the AFA.

Big Data analytics and crunching only without write-back to storage Read Intensive 
>90% reads
VDI and some server-class VMs More Balanced
60-90% reads
Most server-class VMs Write Intensive 
30-60% reads
Server Vms Very Write Intensive 
< 30% reads

When one of our customers engages with us on the AFA, our sales engineering team works closely with the customer to understand and identify their use case; we then customize a FreeNAS Certified AFA configuration option with the ideal balance of capacity, durability and pricing.
Talk to us today to find out more about how we can engineer a system perfectly suited for your data storage environment and your budget. Email us at or call 1-855-GREP-4-IX (1-855-473-7449, or 1-408-493-4100 outside the US) to discuss your storage needs with one of our solution architects.
Steve Wong, Director of Product Management

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