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Dell joins the 'fast object storage revolution'

Huge performance jump from disk

Dell Technologies has unveiled its first all-flash object storage appliance - as good an indication as any that flash object storage has hit the mainstream.

The performance jump between disk and flash is huge, and Dell claims the new ECS EXF900 is so fast that it can be used for AI, machine learning, IoT, analytics and cloud-native applications. In other words, object storage is no longer banished to cheap and deep workloads.

“Organisations are realising the advantages object offers - scalability, flexibility, API-driven cloud-native architectures - when combined with high performance all-flash media, can support their most data-hungry workloads. The object storage market is primed for a revolution,” ECS product marketing manager Tony Yakovich writes.

With the launch of the EXF900, Dell joins all-flash object storage pioneers Cloudian, Scality, NetApp's StorageGRID and Pure Storage's FlashBlade.

The EXF900 has the highest performance and lowest capacity of the ECS range of appliances. Its disk drive-based brethren are the EX300 low-end systems, EX500 mid-range disk drive variants and high-end EX3000 arrays.

The EX900 uses NVMe SSDs and a PowerEdge server to drive them, and ECS software supports NVMe-oF access for its backend network. The upshot is a 21x performance improvement over the EX300 and 19x more transactions per second. The EX300 rolls along at 24MB/sec with 10KB writes while the EF900 rocket is way out in front with 511MB/sec.

ECS 3.6

Dell has added object cloning via an ECS 3.6 software update. This enables a single request to write or copy thousands of private copies on the backend, reducing client-side processing, server-side processing and network load. Yakovich suggests this feature is ideal for media and entertainment use cases.

ECS 3.6 includes a new API to automate the reporting of system security settings and so integrate ECS with existing monitoring and data protection arrangements.


Enterprises can now use all-flash arrays for block, file and object storage. Block gives database software data placement control. File provides straightforward unstructured (non-database) information location and addressing with rewritable versions. Object gives us the same but with richer metadata possibilities and without rewritable versions.

All three can be fast, and file and object can also scale out. File has parallel access capabilities for massive throughput. Whether we will see the development of equivalent parallel object storage schemes is something to ponder.®

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