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Storage Field Day 3 - Day 2

Written by Roy Mikes on Thursday, 25 April 2013. Posted in General

DAY 2

Second Storage Field Day is an exciting day. Fusion-IO acquired NextGen Storage. Packing up our gears and heading to the headquarters of NextGen Storage. A very early start but worth it. Both CEOs are here talking to us. NexGen is a leading developer of hybrid storage appliances based on Fusion ioMemory for small to medium enterprises (SMEs). By using software in combination with ioMemory and standard disk drives, NexGen transforms industry-leading x86 server platforms into hybrid storage systems that provide the performance of an all-flash array at a fraction of the cost. This acquisition is a strategic expansion of the software-defined Fusion-io product portfolio, accelerating Fusion-io’s opportunity in the SME market with a solution built to allow customers to provision both performance and capacity according to their needs. The deal will add about 50 NexGen employees to the Fusion-io team. The employees will remain in Louisville, where Fusion-io has an engineering office.

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Up next is Starboard. Starboard Storage Systems is an innovator focused on bringing disruptive new storage technology to market. They exploiting flash-based storage technologies along with intelligent caching algorithms to automate data management and enable storage to adapt to business needs in real time.  Storage has been too complex, too inflexible and too expensive for too long was a clear statement while presenting.

Of course they present a box of disks. But here's not the magic. The Starboard Storage devices run the "Starboard OS", and it manages the interface between the physical storage devices with MAST, or Multi-protocol Application STorage. This set of stacked layers is what provides the very cool features that make the Starboard solution so interesting.

Starboard Storage Product Overview

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There's one coming out of Stealth, PernixData. The company introduction was done by Satyam Vaghani. PernixData lead in virtualizing server flash, announced today a Flash Virtualization Platform (FVP), the industry’s first and only hypervisor for server side flash. This is still in Beta but huge. This revolutionary software virtualizes all server side flash into a clustered acceleration tier that enables IT administrators to quickly, easily and cost-effectively scale-out storage performance completely independent of storage capacity. The result is unprecedented read and write performance for all virtual machines (VMs), without the need to change existing server and storage infrastructure. With flash storage virtualization, PernixData fundamentally changes how storage is designed and operated in virtual data centers. 

I was pleasantly surprised about the message Satyam brought us, because name one vendor who's is not heading out for SSDs and performance. So this is a great area to explore. Storage has long been a war-of-boxes with marginal innovation said Satyam, and many would agree. PernixData FVP is installed in minutes and with no changes necessary to VMs, servers or storage. IT teams can aggregate available server side flash into clusters that are used to satisfy the storage performance needs of the virtual infrastructure. It’s biggest advantage is, it's not running in a VM. it’s running native inside the hypervisor. Again, no changes are required for the VM or your storage. And that makes manageability very easy. 

An Overview of the PernixData Flash Virtualization Platform

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PernixData Technology Deep Dive

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Pernixdata is followed by SanDisk Flashsoft. To be honest, I didn’t had high expectations as many others I believe. I wasn't aware SanDisk had enterprise products.

Let me walk you thru the basics. FlashSoft software enables a solid-state device (SSD) to function as a cache for frequently accessed data. Most people call this 'hot data'. FlashSoft software is installed directly into the kernel module within the vSphere operating system like PernixData does. By caching the hot data on a high-speed SSD installed on the server, access times are reduced and applications spend less time waiting for data.

  • FlashSoft is non-intrusive. FlashSoft works with any storage subsystem and requires no change to storage management, backup, or compliance polices.
  • FlashSoft is installed in the host OS and does not use agents in the guest OS for any guest OS can take advantage of acceleration.
  • FlashSoft supports any guest OS. FlashSoft is installed in the host OS and does not use agents in the guest OS for any guest OS can take advantage of acceleration.
  • FlashSoft is fast - SQL Server benchmarks run faster.
  • FlashSoft increases virtual infrastructure efficiency.

FlashSoft software runs on any standard SSD or flash PCIe, SAS, or eSATA with a minimum cache size of 8GB up to 2TB depending on OS Host version. 

Flash technology can accelerate application performance by reducing I/O latency. However, the impact on application performance depends greatly on where the I/O latency is addressed. When installed in a storage appliance as a high-performance tier, flash can improve the overall performance of the storage system. However, because latency exists between the server and the underlying storage, flash does not increase application performance as effectively from a storage device as it does when it is in the server. Both, PernixData and Sandisk understood this concept very well.

SanDisk, Flashsoft, and the Economics of Caching

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Core SanDisk FlashSoft Caching Technology

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SanDisk FlashSoft for VMware vSphere

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This day was like yesterday a very interesting day. Good speakers! Very enthusiastic. And above all a very tiring day. Intense to keep the attention they deserve and at the same time having a major Jetlag.

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About the Author

Roy Mikes

Roy Mikes

Roy Mikes has developed a deep knowledge of virtualization, storage and Cloud in a broad perspective over the past 15 years, but also streamlines his focus on VMware and EMC Technology. Because of that knowledge and focus, Roy works as a Cloud and Storage Technologist Specialist, Data Center Architect Specialist and VMware Certified Professional.

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