This content is part of the Buyer's Guide: Demystifying the hybrid storage array buying process

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Leading hybrid storage arrays offer flexibility, scalability

By examining how leading hybrid storage systems address scalability, system management and company size, your organization can select the array that will best meet its needs.

Hybrid storage arrays offer numerous benefits to organizations that want the speed and latency of flash without the cost of a fully loaded solid-state system. By mixing flash with spinning disks, organizations of all sizes can take advantage of these high-performance systems.

Here we examine products offered by leading hybrid storage array vendors. All of the arrays profiled here include features such as Automated tiering, thin provisioning, snapshots, compression, deduplication, encryption and replication.

Dell EMC

The Dell EMC Unity 300 hybrid model is an entry-level system designed for remote and branch office environments. Other Unity arrays include the 400, 500 and 600 models, which can scale up to 16 petabytes (PB). Unity supports private and public clouds and leading cloud offerings and is VMware-, Hyper-V- and OpenStack-integrated.

Dell EMC VNX unified hybrid storage arrays for the mid-tier range from the VNX5200 to the VNX8000 and offer four to 1,500 drives and 28 to 88 ports of 1/10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) or Fibre Channel (FC). Value-optimized models offer 3% flash for general-purpose workloads. Balanced VNX systems provide 10% flash for mixed virtualized workloads requiring dynamic performance optimization. Performance-optimized Dell EMC VNX systems offer 20% flash for demanding workloads. The VNX arrays support hybrid and private clouds.

Dell EMC SC Series hybrid storage arrays offer three tiers visible to the user, although more than three types of drives can be used together, along with multiple RAID types. The system automatically aligns the drives in the system to the best tier strategy. This enables several drive types, drive technologies and sizes, and RAID types to be used together.

Dell EMC VMAX all-flash and hybrid flash models include features such as cloud tiers, a no-single-point-of-failure architecture and Intelligent Data Mobility migration services that can help to reduce data, migration time and provide faster backups.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise

HPE 3PAR StoreServ ranges from the 8000 to 20000 series. These arrays offer 6 PB maximum raw capacity and can support up to 1,920 drives and 24 to 160 ports. For tiers of storage, all hybrid models support RAM, a tier of flash cache, enterprise multi-level cell and triple-level cell SSDs and SAS HDDs with speeds of 15,000, 10,000 and 7,200 rpm. These products support backup to the cloud via StoreOnce and tape via StoreEver.

HPE Smart SAN for 3PAR StoreServ Storage offers a simplified option for flash storage deployments that alleviates complex, tedious configuration and administration associated with FC SANs.

HPE 3PAR StoreServ Management Console provides comprehensive, consolidated management of the entire converged storage deployment with HPE OneView integration. Support for a variety of application interfaces and for OpenStack allows storage to be managed and configured from application and VMware consoles.

A multi-tenant design based on the 3PAR Gen5 application-specific integrated circuit and mesh-active architecture enables high and predictable levels of performance for mixed workload deployments by breaking large I/O into smaller chunks so that small read requests do not get held up or stuck behind larger I/O requests. This design also helps to ensure reduced latency of flash-based media.

HPE MSA 1050, 2050 and 2052 models offer SMBs and remote offices up to three tiers of configurable storage: SSD, enterprise SAS (either 10,000 or 15,000 rpm HDDs) and midline SAS (7,200 rpm HDDs). SSDs can be used in a read cache configuration or in performance tiering mode to deliver both read and write SSD acceleration. The array will automatically react to I/O patterns and position the hottest, most active pages of data on the fastest media in real time.

MSA arrays can scale to a maximum of 192 HDDs or SSDs, have a capacity up to 960 TB and can support 16 Gb FC, 1/10 GbE and 12 Gb SAS.

HPE XP7 Storage can scale from a single disk controller and media chassis in one rack to dual controllers and 12 media chassis in six racks. HPE XP7 supports multiple media types, including up to 2,304 HDD, 384 SSDs and 576 Flash Module Devices. Maximum storage capacity is 11.5 PB and up to 192 FC or 176 10 GbE ports.

HPE claims that XP7 Storage can deliver up to 4.8 million IOPS with less than 1.0 milliseconds of latency without sacrificing availability or disaster recovery capacity.

HPE Nimble Storage Adaptive Flash hybrid storage arrays models range from the CS210 to the CS700. The CS210, CS215 and CS235 are designed for SMBs and remotes offices; the CS300 is designed for midsize organizations and distributed sites; the CS500 is designed for I/O-intensive workloads; and the CS700 is designed for consolidating large-scale applications. HPE InfoSight predictive analytics help these arrays deploy storage resources as needed.

Examine how top hybrid storage arrays compare

Hitachi Vantara

The Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) series consists of five base models ranging from the G200 to the G1500. These systems are designed to be configured to achieve between 270,000 IOPS and 4.8 million IOPS. Max capacity ranges from 4.3 PB to 8 PB, and the arrays can include 264 to 2,304 SSDs and 264 to 2,304 HDDs.

All VSP G series offerings run on the Storage Virtualization Operating System (SVOS), which allows a common set of operating practices to be used across midrange, enterprise and high-end mainframe systems. SVOS is also used on the all-flash VSP F series.


IBM Storwize V7000 connectivity options include 1 Gbps iSCSI, 10 Gbps iSCSI/FC over Ethernet (FCoE) and 16 Gbps FC. A maximum of 760 drives is supported per control enclosure and up to 3,040 drives in a four-way clustered system.

Three Storwize V5000 hybrid models -- the Storwize V5030, Storwize V5020 and Storwize V5010 -- include 1 GbE iSCSI, 10 Gb iSCSI/FCoE, 12 Gb SAS and 16 Gb FC and can support up to 760 drives per system and 1,520 drives in a two-way clustered system.

IBM Spectrum Virtualize software extends the capabilities of Storwize to existing storage infrastructures with support for more than 400 different storage systems. The IBM HyperSwap function enables servers at two data centers to access data concurrently with automated switchover in case of failure. When combined with server data mobility functions, such as VMware vMotion or PowerVM Live Partition Mobility, this configuration enables nondisruptive storage and VM mobility between the two data centers, which can be up to 186 miles apart.

The IBM DS8880 family of hybrid storage systems includes the DS8884, which is designed for midsize organizations, and the DS8886, which is designed for large organizations. These self-tuning systems include features such as intelligent caching algorithms, automated quality of service management and advanced storage tiering.


Infinidat InfiniBox storage array models range from F2000 to F6000, with capacities ranging from 248 TB to 8.3 PB. Infinidat claims its hybrid storage arrays support from 500,000 to 1 million IOPS.

Each of the front-end nodes in the system is equipped with dynamic RAM (DRAM) and multiple SSD drives, which are combined to act as a global cache across all three nodes. None of the data blocks are cached twice, enhancing read and write performance. With up to 3.1 TB of DRAM and 207 TB of flash cache per system, the InfiniBox can cache large data sets and avoid having to fetch reads from the disk drives.


The NetApp FAS9000 hybrid flash system is designed for large, business-critical and consolidated environments. The system can scale to 24 nodes and 172 PB raw capacity. Each high-availability (HA) pair can accommodate up to 1,440 drives and 14.4 PB. Features include nonvolatile memory express (NVMe) flash acceleration; modular design optimized for high performance and reliability, availability and serviceabilit; and continuous availability.

The NetApp FAS8200 is designed for enterprises that require scalability for SAN and NAS workloads. The system scales to 57 PB raw capacity, as each HA pair can accommodate up to 480 drives and 4.8 PB. The FAS8200 also offers continuous availability, up to 24 nodes and NVMe flash acceleration.

The NetApp FAS2600 series, which includes the FAS2620 and FAS2650 models, is optimized for SMBs that require simplified operations for SAN and NAS workloads. This system can scale from 8 TB to 5.7 PB raw capacity with a small footprint with up to 24 internal disk drives, up to eight nodes and NVMe flash acceleration.

The NetApp E5700 midrange hybrid flash array is designed for large enterprises with capacity-intensive, dedicated apps, such as analytics or technical computing, and capacity-oriented workloads that deliver high-performance storage consolidation, such as video surveillance and backup and recovery.

The NetApp E2800 entry-level hybrid flash array is optimized for small enterprises and remote offices that require mixed-workload performance and reliability for dedicated apps. The E2800 storage system integrates all flash and hybrid configuration options to streamline IT infrastructure, reduce costs and take advantage of pay-as-you-grow flexibility.

All models run the SANtricity data management software and support multiple tiers, including NVMe flash cache, SSDs, HDDs -- SAS and SATA/NL-SAS -- and cloud, with future support for storage class memory and NVMe drives.

NetApp E-Series systems offer SANtricity Cloud Connector, a hybrid cloud capability that allows cost-effective backup and recovery to the cloud.

Editor's note

Using extensive research into the hybrid flash storage market, TechTarget editors focused on market-leading vendors and other well-established enterprise vendors. Our research included data from TechTarget surveys, as well as reports from other respected research firms, including Gartner.

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