Modern Applications and Rack Scale Shared Accelerated Storage

Modern cognitive applications are transforming entire industries. From eCommerce to AdTech, to Internet of Things (IoT) to Online Gaming to Security and Fraud prevention. The list goes on. These applications provide real-time, actionable insights that organizations rely on to make better decisions faster. The consumers of these insights are often not human beings; instead, they are other systems and applications that affect the desired outcome.

To make better decisions requires access to massive amounts of data. And in the era where the bar for speed is real-time, these decisions need to be made faster and faster, this data needs to be ingested, processed and served in real-time.

The dominant storage architecture for these modern applications is server-side storage, aka direct attached storage (DAS). When we asked our customers, what is preventing them from going to a rack-scale disaggregated shared accelerated storage, they gave us two key reasons.

The first is the applications insatiable need for performance density and the fact that there isn’t a single rack-scale fast data appliance that can meet the IO requirements of an entire rack of servers. We address the performance density in spades with our Pavilion RackFlash Array. Learn more about Performance Density and why it matters for rack scale modern applications here.

The second key objection is around the notion of agility and flexibility that DAS has to offer over shared storage platforms. Shared storage platforms are extremely inflexible when it comes to procurement and deployment and that they have always suffered from these afflictions. Our customers indicated that these issues with AFAs and other shared storage of the ilk, stem from following root causes. We have heard the following directly from our customers.


“Storage OEMs have quite cleverly “trained” their customers well in a very tightly controlled 3 year technology refresh cycle. But the application demands are changing all the time, as are technological solutions to address these demands.

Why is it then I (Storage User) am beholden to OEMs’ refresh cycle, instead of the speed of available technology and their needs? Storage OEMs call this “Innovation” but why do I have to “innovate” at their speed and technology cadence?”

All great points. Just think about the 3 year period between refreshes: CPU and memory would have gone through two-three technological generations during that time. We are only in the second innings of Flash revolution, and SSD technology is evolving at an even faster rate (than CPU and Memory). Yet, to upgrade to that newer, faster, denser, more power efficient and quite possibly cheaper SSD, users will have to wait for the OEM’s “refresh cycle” and at that time, they are better of throwing away the entire array, and rebuy the entire thing.

Think about car tires. Do you replace your car each time you need to replace tires?
Why can’t SSDs can’t be upgraded on their own?
Why is the tech upgrade cycle so inflexible?


“My projects change over time. Workloads and their requirement for storage change over time. Why is it then that I cannot respond to these changing workload and storage requirements by moving unused storage media from the one storage products to another one of my OEM, let alone between different OEMs solutions? Why do I have to re-purchase the capacity I already bought, every time from my storage OEM for each of their different storage products?
At the end of the day, it is the same media sold by the same set of storage OEM vendors …”

In fact, Storage OEMs quite deliberately and completely lock those SSDs to the specific products so that customers are not able to move those across platforms sold by the same OEM.
Why is the use of storage capacity that customers have already paid for so inflexible?




“I already have my supplier relationships, and I can buy the same SSDs at less than a quarter of the price compared to what Big Storage is selling it for. What gives?
Why do I have to incremental SW license fees, and pay support based on capacity when the marginal cost of running and supporting an array for each additional GB of storage is minuscule?
Feels a lot like extortion in the name of ‘upgrade” to me!’
Servers and Network Switch have never priced their product based on a number of computations conducted or bandwidth (bytes) pushed through their ports.
Why then, do I have to pay per GB to Big Storage at 4x on drives they bought in the open market?”

Why you ask?

Well, simple. Storage OEMs want to have their cake and eat it too!

Big Storage simply wants to sell you more capacity. The entire storage business model in the industry is tied to capacity. Their sales reps start with this question: “How many TB do you need?” After all, storage OEM’s revenue and sales reps’ compensation are directly tied to them selling you more capacity at huge markups. SSDs are fast becoming a commodity, and prices are coming down every six months. Yet, big storage wants to sell you the same SSDs at 400% markup and lock you into their media. Keep in mind, storage OEMs typically have zero innovation or intellectual property in the SSD. They source their drives from the same four or so, SSD vendors in the world.

Not just the massive markups on SSD media, their software licensing and support/maintenance is also tied to capacity in the array.
This is the predatory business model that Big Storage has perpetuated. Or rather, perpetrated is a better word to describe their actions.

And that is what has been preventing these enterprise IT, web-scale organizations from going rack-scale shared accelerated storage for modern applications.

In fact, our customers have asked us for freedom of choice.

Choice to Innovate

SSD drive technologies are evolving rapidly with new product introductions weekly.
From SLC to eMLC to MLC to TLC to QLC, from NAND to 3D-NAND and from SCSI to SAS to SATA to NVMe.
Each successive generation of storage controllers uses less power while at the same time offer more performance, services, and control to OS and applications.

Customers want the choice to refresh and upgrade their storage media-on-demand, based on their needs, budgets and technology availability.

Choice to Reuse

Workloads change over time and so do their requirement on storage.
Different Applications have different IO requirements. For instance, streaming, analytics and backup workloads need high read bandwidth. Transactional database workloads, on the other hand, thrive on low latency access to storage media. IOT workloads are typically characterized by millions of small-block size writes, hence rely on heavy write endurance from Flash.

On the other hand, a wide variety of storage media at different price points is available today
If you want to optimize for read performance, for instance, the drives will have less RAM and consequently will be cheaper. You can optimize for capacity – from 800GB (IOT/DB) to 30TB in for cheap and deep storage. Heavy write endurance drives have overprovisioned NAND flash and hence more expensive.

Suffice to say, one size does NOT fit all when it comes to storage media.

Customer’s want the choice to reuse, repurpose, redirect storage media based on their applications requirements and as they vary over time.

Choice to Save

Cost of SSD is projected to decline while capacities and performance is expected to double every twelve months.
Customers want to arbitrage freely on this supply chain dynamic and buy storage media on spot market at the best price and/or by leveraging strategic relationships with drive manufacturers or their distributors.


Here at Pavilion, we say to our customers, we heard you, loud and clear. So today, we are proud to introduce OPENCHOICE Storage, the most unique model to procure and deploy storage.

OPENCHOICE defies the conventional models by giving YOU, the storage user, the ultimate control and by breaking Big Storage’s predatory business models.

It has three key components.


Yes, you read it right. Bring Your Own Media. Leverage your relationships with your suppliers or buy directly on the spot market. Media is the single largest spend item in storage, and ultimately, we want you to shop around and save big. We support most major NVMe SSDs already, we are always qualifying new SSDs as they are released.

Flat Pricing, NOT Tied to Storage Capacity

We don’t build SSDs drive. We don’t sell SSDs drive. In fact, we have no IP there (neither does Big Storage BTW but they won’t openly admit that). So, we don’t believe it is fair for us to charge based per GB. Not storage, not software, not support. We guarantee our price will NEVER be tied to how much storage capacity you have in the array. You buy capacity from whoever you can at the lower price. You expand capacity separately and performance and independently and just-in-time. That is the core architecture of our product. OPENCHOICE makes is ultra-simple to procure, deploy and scale, just-in-time.


Fixed price per Line card. Did we say our array was built like a network switch? Annual subscription-to-innovation price guaranteed not to change for the life of the array, regardless of capacity. Subscription price is for the Media Slot License, but it also includes all HW Warranty + Support + Maintenance + all SW features and future SW upgrades, FOREVER. And YES, we support the entire system, even if we don’t sell the storage media. The buck stops with us. Period. And when needed, license more media slots to add more drives. Any capacity drives for that matter.


With OPENCHOICE, our customers save over 50% in cost of acquisition alone over traditional AFAs with OPENCHOICE Storage. That, and at least 10x performance of AFAs.

Customers reduce storage media spend by up to a third compared to (DAS) with better storage utilization of Pavilion RackFlash Array.
Net-net, we want our customers to save money.

OPENCHOICE puts the choice of right type of storage at the right price point for the right workload at the right time … in the hands of users.

OPENCHOICE protects IT organizations existing and future investments in storage while providing ultimate flexibility to scale up/down performance and capacity independently … just-in-time

OPENCHOICE is THE open choice that you have been waiting for in a Rack Scale Shared Accelerated Storage. To learn more on how Pavilion RackFlash Array and OPENCHOICE Storage can help you in your rack scale environments, contact us today.