Fusion-io updates ioTurbine to aid more types of on-server caching

The software can now manage caching at the hypervisor level and on non-virtualized servers

Fusion-io is updating its ioTurbine caching software to help more types of enterprises integrate flash-based cache into virtualized computing environments.

The software, designed to be used with Fusion-io's ioCache hardware, manages the placement of application data in server-based caches. Based on real-time activity and on policies set by enterprise IT, ioTurbine understands what data is most critical and caches it, directing other data to slower, high-capacity storage elsewhere.

To deliver its intended speed boost to applications, flash cache needs to reside on the same physical server where the application is running. Fusion-io's ioTurbine is designed to automatically provide flash capacity when a VMware virtual machine is moved from one physical server to another.

In the updated version, the software will also let enterprises make caching work at the hypervisor level, handling the I/O streams for multiple VMs. Fusion-io has also merged its Direct Cache product, which managed cache on non-virtualized servers, into ioTurbine.

Assigning cache capacity to a particular VM provides the most fine-grained control of the data used by the applications on that VM, but there are reasons to implement caching in the hypervisor in some cases, said Gary Orenstein, executive vice president of marketing at Fusion-io.

For example, a hosting company that provides computing services for multiple tenants may not have control over the VMs that its tenants set up and use. The same might be true of an enterprisewide IT department in a decentralized organization. Yet the service provider or enterprise might find it useful to implement its own cache at the hypervisor to help accelerate all applications, Orenstein said.

The updated version of ioTurbine is available immediately and is a free upgrade for customers with current support contracts, Orenstein said. VMware is the only virtualization system it supports for now, but Fusion-io may add other platforms depending on demand, he said. Bundled with the ioCache accelerator platform, which includes 750GB of Fusion ioMemory capacity, ioTurbine has a list price of US$7,500. Customers who already have Fusion-io flash can buy the software alone for $3,900 list.

Because ioTurbine can now manage cache at either level, it's easier for IT managers to make cache available within a virtualized environment, said analyst David Floyer, the co-founder and CTO of research group Wikibon.

"You want it to be part of the virtual environment so that the guy responsible for the VMs can turn this on and control it," Floyer said.

By extending ioTurbine to non-virtualized servers, Fusion-io is providing a consistent software platform that can be used across all server-based cache arrangements. That can help to ease an enterprise's migration into virtualization, according to Fusion-io.

Fusion-io's caching system stands out among others on the market for ioTurbine's tight integration with ioCache, Floyer said. "They've put this in in an integrated way, with the software and the hardware, and they've integrated it into VMware in a neat way," he said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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