The Story Behind Huawei’s All-Flash Journey

ByLu Shasha

July 25, 2022

Lu Shasha

Huawei’s evolution to a storage industry leader is quite the story. From a nobody, to playing catch up, to surpassing major names, our journey to all-flash storage has been eventful.

After years of strategic investment, our all-flash storage has topped the growth rate for market share globally for several consecutive quarters and has been named a six-time Leader in the Magic Quadrant by Gartner.

Starting small, but with a long-term strategy

2008 was a landmark year in the storage industry. The storage market witnessed tremendous changes, including new technologies for high-end storage architectures, deduplication and compression, flash storage, and clustered files. It also saw a large number of start-ups take their first steps into a highly competitive industry. Huawei foresaw the trend of SSDs replacing HDDs and looked to invest in the new tech. In 2010, the Huawei storage team successfully developed the industry’s first batch of enterprise-grade SSDs, offering faster, more reliable media. Evolving from a single disk drive, the following year Huawei released the industry’s first tier 0 all-flash storage, a system for data acceleration providing outstanding performance, but at the expense of enterprise-grade features.

To fix these shortcomings, Huawei invested in R&D for six years to release the first batch of Tier 1 all-flash storage in 2016. This model did not just provide superior speeds, but was also equipped with extensive enterprise-grade features. But at that time, both HDDs and SSDs mainly adopted the Serial-Attached SCSI (SAS) protocol, resulting in SAS SSDs. However, SAS is mainly designed for HDDs, not SSDs.

Our R&D teams started to develop SSDs based on the Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) protocol — a high-performance protocol designed for flash memory capable of breaking through SAS protocol bottlenecks.

In 2018, we released the full-series NVMe all-flash storage to further reduce all-flash latency, before launching the industry’s sole high-end all-flash storage based on full-mesh architecture in 2019. This generation of all-flash storage was marked with enterprise-grade features and other leading capabilities for hosting core enterprise applications. In 2020, we launched the new-gen all-flash storage that again raised the bar for performance and latency, supporting the industry’s only active-active solution for integrated SAN and NAS to provide the ultimate data experience.

Affordable, green, and inclusive flash

Huawei Storage aims to make flash storage more affordable for more enterprises and build green and energy-efficient data centers for industry verticals. To achieve these goals, we need to minimize the power consumption across the entire storage system as well as data centers.

A step to achieving this is the wide-scale replacement of HDDs by SSDs, given that HDDs consume three times more power than all-flash.

Back in 2010, the Huawei first-gen Tier 0 all-flash storage focused on single-point technical design and SSD performance and as such adopts high-performance hardware without value-added software. That means it can only be used for data acceleration rather than primary storage. In 2015, breakthroughs in enterprise-grade features ensured all-flash storage could fully cover primary storage products – that was the spark that ignited our focus on product- and system-level designs.

Only all-flash with extensive features and high reliability design can run on our primary storage systems to ensure stable and fast data services.

Leading the race to unlock the potential of all-flash

In today’s digital world, users have higher requirements on IT system performance and energy-efficient data center development. To fully unlock the potential of flash memory, we focus on data center-level designs and strategies. To this end, Huawei Storage launched the Huawei All-Flash Data Center Solution. This reliable and green all-flash data center covers all-scenario flash storage, full-lifecycle data management, and all-IP networking. By building green storage, Huawei enables low-carbon industry development. We are very pleased to see that Huawei’s all-flash storage systems are running in many customer environments in a wide range of industries, all around the world.

Since entering the Gartner Leaders Quadrant in 2016, Huawei Storage has innovated year-on-year to cement itself as an industry giant. We were recognized as Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice in 2021, ranking top among enterprises with over US$10 billion in annual revenue. Huawei all-flash storage was also the recommended choice for next-generation all-flash arrays at the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) Technical Review.

While the story so far ends here, Huawei’s all-flash storage goes from strength to strength in the continual quest for all-flash development. These achievements are driven by continuous perseverance and innovation, which drives us to help customers build flash-ready, future-proof data infrastructure designed for the intelligent world.

Further reading

Disclaimer: Any views and/or opinions expressed in this post by individual authors or contributors are their personal views and/or opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of Huawei Technologies.

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Lu Shasha

Senior Technical Writer

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