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Violin seeks uptake of all-flash array as primary storage

Posted: 25 Feb 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Violin Memory? all-flash array? SSD? memory module?

Violin Memory is betting high on its custom flash architecture when it improved on its storage platform that is being offered as a solution for data services customers who want to adopt all-flash arrays as primary storage. Rebranded as the Flash Storage Platform (FSP), Violin's updated product line includes the latest 7300 and 7700 all flash arrays, Concerto OS 7 and Symphony 3 for management control.

Erik Ottem, Violin's director of product marketing, Violin Memory, said the updates reflect the company's strategy to move away from just servicing niche applications and becoming a viable option for customers' primary storage requirements at the same price point or lower.

The FSP uses Violin's fourth generation Flash Fabric Architecture (FFA), which at its core eschews SSDs in favour of a mesh of thousands of flash dies organised into intelligent flash management units the company calls Violin Intelligent Memory Modules (VIMMs). These VIMMs take care of functions such as garbage collection, wear levelling and error/fault management.

Ottem said the FFA is a key feature for delivering performance and scale, as well as a lower cost for an all-flash array (AFA). It also allows Violin to offer higher densities than an SSD-based AFA, while the vertical integration of the FFA provides Violin with complete control right down to the chip level to address latency. He said the 7300 and 7700 FSP designs reduce the effective cost-per-gigabyte by more than 75 per cent compared to Violin's prior generation of arrays.

Flash Storage Platform

Violin's FFA comprises a mesh of thousands of flash dies organised into intelligent flash management called VIMMs.

But cost is not the only thing customers are looking at when opting to make an AFA primary storage, said Ottem. They are looking for consistent performance, especially in virtualised environments that are prone to latency spikes, as well as data services, which he said high-end customers want to be able to turn on and off at a granular level. The 7300 FSP, for example, includes user selectable, block-level inline de-duplication and compression. The Concerto OS 7 combines Violin's previous operating system, vMOS 5, and its Concerto data management and inline data-reduction capabilities.

Ottem said this refresh will allow Violin to move down market, something Mark Peters, senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, said is a necessary step for the company. While there will always be customers who value performance over cost, Violin needs to expand out of that limited market and data services are a critical requirement for customers adopting AFAs for primary storage. "Performance alone is insufficient without data services."

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