Violin Unveils Multi-TB-Capacity NFS Cache

Mountain View, California-based Violin Memory, a developer of scalable memory arrays, has introduced what it calls the first multi-terabyte capacity Network File System (NFS) cache, leveraging technology from its Gear6 acquisition. Designed to accelerate performance for high-end enterprise applications, vCache reportedly eliminates upgrades, increases bandwidth and lowers user latency.

November 17, 2010

3 Min Read
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Mountain View, California-based Violin Memory, a developer of scalable memory arrays, has introduced what it calls the first multi-terabyte capacity Network File System (NFS) cache, leveraging technology from its Gear6 acquisition. Designed to accelerate performance for high-end enterprise applications, vCache reportedly eliminates upgrades, increases bandwidth and lowers user latency.

The company says it complements existing network attached storage (NAS) by centralizing massive pools of memory that serve data 10-to-50 times faster than mechanical disks, eliminating I/O bottlenecks and hotspots. vCache expands to 15TB of useable cache and delivers over 300,000 NFS operations per second over eight 10GbE ports and supports current NAS features such as snapshots and deduplication. It uses a combination of DRAM and Flash memory, and is priced from $40,000 - under $1 per NFS operation/sec.

Storage analysts are impressed by the offering. Jim Bagley, senior analyst, SSG-Now, calls the announcement significant from several standpoints. "First, the integration of the Gear6 acquisition into the memory array provides a NAS capability with a very large amount of high speed Flash storage. This means that Violin arrays can be deployed as a front end for filers and can hold large data sets without having to access rotating media. There is also a cloud storage play because the memory array can provide high speed access to cached data while using a lower speed link to the cloud."

He adds that the company has aggregation capabilities that are unique, and with the Gear6 software, has greatly enhanced its position in the high speed memory array market, providing both SAN and NAS capabilities. "It is important to note that the Violin array provides Flash at a lower cost per TB than drive format SSDs.

Gartner's Joe Unsworth, research director, says Violin is providing a comprehensive and flexible flash memory array solution with robust performance and reliability at very aggressive price-points compared to more established competitors. "Violin's management of flash from a system and SSD perspective allows its memory array to have robust reliability and highly compelling performance. The aggressive price/GB for their solution can be enticing for customers but represents challenges for smaller competitors."Jim Handy, an analyst with Objective Analysis, cautions that there is a lot that is still unknown about adding SSDs to systems. Storage cache management software is still in its infancy but Violin believes that many data center managers will be unwilling to put up with erratic access times that result when an SSD cache is put in front of an HDD. "If the data's in the SSD, the access will be lightning fast, but if it's not there the system slows to the speed of the HDDs, which might be two orders of magnitude slower."

Violin is betting that many users need for all of their accesses to be consistently fast, so they provide large memory appliances, says Handy. "In the case that these are too large to be consistently useful in an application, the new vCache software allows different parts of this resource to be allotted to different tasks. It's a very high end solution. A lot more cheap SSDs will sell than expensive Violin devices, but the high price on these will quite likely cause Violin's revenues to reach impressive levels. Even though these devices are expensive, they end up selling because they provide a more economical solution for their customers' needs than do scale-out solutions."

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