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The performance delivered by flash technology is changing the storage industry. Mechanical disk drives simply cannot compete with the fast transactional performance of flash drives. Yet, at least for now, flash drives cannot offer the cost effectiveness of SATA drives. Hybrid storage architectures are the answer, delivering the performance benefits of flash while benefitting from the much lower cost of high capacity SATA drives. The value of hybrid storage will ensure that hybrid architectures will have a dominant place in data center storage—especially in industry and research environments where obtaining leading performance at a low total cost of ownership is critical to driving innovation and discovery.

Panasas Flash and Hybrid Leadership

The Panasas ActiveStor hybrid scale-out NAS appliance represents the future of scale-out NAS. The use of flash in ActiveStor is not the simple addition of a cache in front of hard drives; nor is flash limited to solely accelerating metadata performance. Instead, ActiveStor takes a leadership approach with its intelligent hybrid architecture, ensuring that files and metadata are located on the best type of storage technology for optimum performance and cost-effectiveness.

ActiveStor: A True Hybrid NAS Appliance

As a hybrid appliance, ActiveStor intelligently integrates flash technology with enterprise SATA drives. The ActiveStor integrated hybrid architecture, powered by PanFS, intelligently places file data onto flash or enterprise SATA drives based on which device will deliver optimum performance for a given file. This assures no-compromise performance for small file, large file, and mixed file workloads.

The hybrid architecture is built on three storage tiers that are intelligently managed for maximum performance in relation to cost:

  • Tier 1: Fast RAM
    • Caching for all files (read-ahead and write-behind for data and metadata)
  • Tier 2: Flash storage
    • Solid State Disk (SSD) drives accelerate small files and file metadata performance
  • Tier 3: Enterprise SATA drives
    • Large files reside on cost-effective enterprise SATA drives
    • Per-file RAID striping for optimum performance

This enables the highest performance possible for cached files while delivering flash performance for small files that are not cached. Metadata also resides on flash, and not hard drives, to improve file system responsiveness. Large files are striped for performance across multiple cost-effective SATA drives.

Hybrid management is completely automated requiring no management effort. The ActiveStor single global namespace also keeps the system easy to use and manage.

The intelligent hybrid technology of the future is available today with Panasas ActiveStor.


Hard-drive-only NAS architectures, without flash technology, are being replaced in industry and research environments as they cannot effectively process all file workloads. NAS products designed to handle a multi-petabyte large file workload will usually struggle with scaling the I/O performance of billions of small files, and vice versa. Scale-out hybrid architectures with hard drives and flash are emerging to address a much wider set of workload requirements by addressing small file and large file workloads from a single integrated hybrid architecture. Handing mixed workloads with a wide variety of file sizes is critical to achieve high real-world performance.


Find out more about our Flash and Hybrid Storage Solutions