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Cohesity gives DataPlatform an I/O Boost for flash storage

As enterprises demand faster backup and recovery, Cohesity adds software advances to DataPlatform that enable it to work better with all-flash appliances from Cisco and HPE.

Cohesity optimized its flagship data management software to take full advantage of high-performance all-flash hardware.

Today, Cohesity rolled out I/O Boost, which improves the way its DataPlatform software manages data on flash storage. I/O Boost is certified to work with all-flash enterprise servers from Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Dell and Intel. These include Cisco UCS C220 M5, HPE ProLiant DL360 G10, Dell PowerEdge R640 and Intel Server System R1208WF.

Cohesity claimed that the optimization allows DataPlatform to deliver up to eight times faster performance for backing up and recovering data compared to disk-based media, while also boosting the speeds of non-backup workloads such as deduplication and copying data for test/dev and analytics. Another benefit of working with flash media over disk is increased space efficiency, meaning fewer licensed nodes are required.

This isn't Cohesity's first foray into flash. Earlier this month, Pure Storage launched an all-flash integrated backup appliance called FlashRecover, which runs Cohesity DataProtect on its FlashBlade hardware. Unlike FlashRecover, which is focused on the data protection use case, Cohesity's partnership with Cisco and HPE uses Cohesity DataPlatform to consolidate all data management workloads onto one platform.

With I/O Boost, Cohesity is anticipating flash will play a bigger role in secondary storage. Traditionally, higher-priced flash has been reserved for performance-intensive primary storage, while higher-capacity hard disk drives have been used for backup and archiving.

Nikitha Omkar, senior product marketing manager at Cohesity, said the enterprise market's increased appetite for flash is a result of multiple trends intersecting. First, COVID-19 has led to increased ransomware attacks and more employees working remotely, so businesses have made business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) a top priority. They are less focused on simply protecting the data against loss and more concerned with recovering data rapidly. Second, demand for intelligent data management was growing even before COVID-19, and businesses now want to perform analytics, dev/test and data reuse tasks faster. Also, the price of flash has gone down enough that businesses consider the efficiencies gained to be worth the cost.

"It's a natural progression. Everybody wants everything faster now," Omkar said.

Doug Free, director of corporate communications at Cohesity, added that there is also a green consideration to the all-flash movement. He said while many organizations shift to a diskless data center to take advantage of the faster storage medium, he spoke with some CTOs who were concerned with energy consumption costs. The fact that flash uses less energy than disk weighed into their decision to go diskless.

Similar partnerships exist with other backup vendors. Veeam, Veritas and Commvault software are all certified to work with Pure Storage hardware, and last month, Catalogic ECX copy data management software rolled out support for HPE Nimble all-flash and hybrid arrays.

Christophe Bertrand, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said it is generally not easy to redesign software that was built for one medium to take full advantage of a faster one. Bottlenecks exist on the software side, and overcoming those takes engineering resources. He said Cohesity's commitment of those resources shows the vendor anticipates market demand for using its software with flash.

Bertrand said his research found that recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives (RTOs/RPOs) for most organizations have grown more stringent, and some struggle to recover at the scale and speed necessary to meet SLAs. He expects that the companies with SLA and BC/DR gaps will benefit the most from putting backups on all-flash appliances. However, faster recoveries are just the tip of the iceberg. The other benefits enabled by the medium, such as being able to quickly cut a copy of data for the test/dev team to use, allowing application development to iterate faster, is the real value add.

"You can translate the reduced risk and higher speed to a dollar value. There's a TCO argument that can be made," Bertrand said about flash over disk.

Although flash prices are dropping and it has clear benefits over disk, Bertrand doesn't advise organizations to go diskless. He said tiered storage remains valuable, and businesses should work out a pecking order for BC/DR so that the most mission-critical data is sitting on premium storage. Less critical data that doesn't need to be immediately available after an outage can go on spinning disk.

That means hard disk drives will stick around for years.

"No medium ever truly goes away. Remember, tape is still around," Bertrand said.

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