IXsystems is focused on the enterprise in its switch to all-NVMe storage to increase density as well as reduce power and total cost of ownership for its flagship storage product.
The TrueNAS Enterprise F-Series will now be fully populated with two dozen 30 TB NVMe SSDs, bringing a raw total of 720 TB in a 2U space. The NVMe storage appliance brings more capacity and performance without increasing energy consumption, according to IXsystems. The vendor also made updates to its open source, ZFS-based TrueNAS Enterprise software, now on version 23.10.
The F-Series is IXsystems' second all-NVMe offering after the R30, an all-flash offering and part of the vendor's R-Series. But the F-Series' dual controller architecture also offers five-nines availability, which is needed for mission-critical enterprise use cases.
The all-NVMe F-Series pushes IXsystems into new market territory, according to Dave Raffo, an analyst at Futurum Group. The vendor, founded in 2002, traditionally competes with smaller systems, such as Dell Unity XT and NetApp E-Series hybrid flash arrays, that don't run at the high end of performance. Now IXsystems is targeting scale-out file systems, he said.
"They are trying to compete more with the Isilons of the world," Raffo said, referring to Dell PowerScale, formally Isilon, the company's enterprise scale-out file system.
NVMe for customers and competitors
Customer requirements and NVMe as the now-default interface of SSDs drove IXsystems' decision to integrate the more performant media into F-Series arrays, according to the vendor. Several IXsystems customers are in media and entertainment and need higher performance for editing and rendering video. The vendor also stated that the NVMe interface will be cheaper than the SAS interface.
But Raffo said the F-Series shows IXsystems is thinking beyond media and entertainment, and to compete more broadly, it needed to provide an all-NVMe flash option with high availability.
"If you are going to be an enterprise NAS vendor, they have to keep up with [what's happening in] storage, and that is what they are doing now," he said.
Marc Staimer, founder and president of Dragon Slayer Consulting, said IXsystems needed to provide all-NVMe option since this is something customers are looking for. He added that the vendor has one big advantage using open source.
"[IXsystems'] all-NVMe is going to be much cheaper than the competition's," he said.
The F-Series gives IXsystems an enterprise foothold and will help it compete with NAS offerings from NetApp, Dell, HPE and IBM at an attractive price point, Staimer said.
But the vendor will still need to prove itself against mature systems, such as Dell PowerScale, which often include established hybrid-cloud partnerships with large public cloud providers that IXsystems has not yet developed.
ZFS and high availability
The F-Series' five-nines availability is due to a combination of the dual controllers and TrueNAS software, according to the vendor. The vendor uses high-capacity drives but claims that when there is a drive failure, rebuild times drop by 80%, and the performance impact on the system only drops 10% to 20%.
TrueNAS uses RAIDZ, a ZFS-variation of RAID that distributes parity across multiple disks for fault tolerance and is similar to, although not as good at rebuilding as, erasure coding, according to Staimer. He added that customer hesitation of high-capacity drive adoption is fading as there are better ways to rebuild.
"Every drive, not just every drive in a group, in the system can rebuild a drive," he said, which will result in much faster rebuild times.
Aside from high availability, the TrueNAS software updates are incremental improvements on existing features, Raffo said. TrueNAS Enterprise updates include improved application and storage pool UI, ZFS dRAID pool layouts, deduplications for server message block and network file system file copies, and an upgraded Linux Kernel 6.1 that improved hardware support, according to the vendor.
Adam Armstrong is a TechTarget Editorial news writer covering file and block storage hardware, and private clouds. He previously worked at StorageReview.com.