Skyera has launched the SkyHawk, a half-depth 1U rack-mountable box that provides up to 44TB of flash storage with an Ethernet switch built in. Not only is the system ridiculously full-featured for such a diminutive box, Skyera is also attacking price. By leveraging 19/20nm consumer MLC NAND flash Skyera is able to drive pricing of roughly $3/GB for native storage, with the value proposition reaching as high as $1/GB with data compression and deduplication enabled. The SkyHawk also includes all the expected software features like thin provisioning, snapshots, cloning and storage QoS.
While Skyera isn’t yet a household name in the enterprise storage market, they do have a deep set of engineering chops as much of the team drove the development of the initial SandForce SSD controllers. By taking a renewed look at all of the components in the technology stack; flash controller, RAID controller, storage blades and network interface, the Skyera team was able to generate a 100X life amplification for the NAND. This longevity of course is what drove the ability to use low cost consumer MLC NAND, instead of more expensive eMLC or SLC NAND, while still providing the endurance and reliability that the enterprise requires.
Getting More out of MLC NAND
The drive to reduce cost in flash-based enterprise storage arrays is nothing new, almost every startup in the storage array market offers some take on MLC NAND as the driver of lower cost performance storage solutions for the enterprise. Where Skyera believes they have an edge though is they’ve crafted their own proprietary flash controller complete with proprietary algorithms that allow the controller to adapt to the flash as it ages. As a result, Skyera expects to deliver five years’ worth of enterprise endurance with the consumer-grade MLC flash being used. Another core advantage is that since Skyera owns the architecture, they can easily adapt their firmware and controller to work with future generations of flash that will require different write parameters.
Not typically found in flash arrays, the Skyera SkyHawk also includes a built-in network switch. The switching feature includes 40 GbE ports and three 10GbE ports and is designed to give compute servers a more direct path to the Skyera flash storage tier. The array does not require the switch to be used, but by Sykera providing the option, users can eliminate another hop in the data path that can introduce latency.
Pricing and Availability
Skyera offers the arrays in three capacity points of 12TB, 22TB and 44TB with pricing of $48,000, $77,000 and $131,000 respectively. The early access program begins in Q3 of this year, with general availability scheduled for Q1 2013.