Violin, still pushing flash speeds, looks to the cloud

The flash storage pioneer is introducing its fastest enterprise arrays yet

In flash storage these days, it takes more than speed to win over many enterprises.

Violin Memory, an early player in enterprise flash, made strides more than a decade ago with storage arrays that outran spinning-disk systems for applications that needed data fast. Then the giants of the data center got into the game, and enterprises started looking at flash for their primary storage instead of targeted uses.

That leaves Violin catching up. It’s added data services like replication and deduplication – the company calls its suite of integrated services the most complete in flash storage – and on Wednesday the company is announcing what it calls the industry’s highest performance all-flash array for primary storage.

It’s also still hammering away at its specialty, introducing the fastest Violin array yet, the Flash Storage Platform 7650. The system sets a new performance bar for the industry, Violin says.

But enterprise storage now is about much more than what’s in a company’s data center. Public and private clouds are increasingly where organizations are looking for capacity, because they’re flexible and affordable. So Violin is getting in on that game, too.

Along with the FSP 7650 and 7450 arrays Violin is announcing Wednesday, the company is introducing the ability to run its Concerto OS 7 software in the cloud.

Violin says this will let enterprises manage and move data among clouds, on-premises Violin arrays, and other vendors’ hardware, all under the same namespace. Replication, backup, and data recovery can take place between enterprise data centers and clouds, including Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure.

That kind of flexibility is a major goal of software-defined storage, a broad trend toward letting enterprises store data in the right places for both cost and speed as their workloads change. Violin says the fact that it uses a single native OS across all its software and hardware sets it apart from larger competitors.

One other highlight of the company’s wide product and feature rollout on Wednesday is encryption for data at rest and in motion. The software-based encryption will be available on all currently shipping Violin arrays. It meets the AES 256-bit XTS standard.

But performance is still a big selling point for Violin, and the company is delivering with its new arrays. The FSP 7650 can achieve 1 million IOPS (in/out operations per second) with latency of 200 microseconds. For applications where 1 millisecond latency is acceptable, the array can reach 2 million IOPS, Violin says.

The general-purpose FSP 7450 reaches 340,000 IOPS with a latency of 1 millisecond. That’s with the full set of integrated data services. The FSP 7450 also beats comparable systems in cost, coming in under US$.60 per gigabyte of effective capacity compared with about a typical cost of $1 per gigabyte, the company says.

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Stephen Lawson

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