Posted by: Beth Pariseau
Flash storage, solid state drives, storage vendors, storage virtualization
NetApp blogger and chief technical architect Val Bercovici, leaked the news yesterday that NetApp’s V-Series storage gateways can now front Texas Memory Systems’ RamSan-500 solid-state storage arrays.
This is the follow-on to NetApp’s announcement last month that it planned to offer Flash-as-disk to go along with its Flash-as-Cache and DRAM-based Performance Acceleration Module (PAM).
A common issue with deploying solid state drives, analysts have said since EMC first announced support for STEC Inc. SSDs in Symmetrix last year, is integrating them with storage management software tools. Until recently, provisioning SSDs could be like provisioning hard disks used to be before storage virtualization–complex, slow and fairly rigid.
According to Bercovici, while the RamSan acts as the high IOPS storage behind the V-Series, the V-Series gives it storage management features through NetApp’s WAFL operating system:
WAFL’s log-structured architecture implements native load-balancing of write operations via write-aggregation to solid state NVRAM. This includes an innovative data layout engine which enables WAFL to “write anywhere” in order to optimize the placement of data across the appropriate media. For flash, that means native built-in wear-leveling optimized to spread writes over as many flash cells as possible in parallel, with minimum wear to each individual flash cell.
According to NetApp chief marketing officer Jay Kidd:
[The V-Series and RamSan] effectively [create] the industry’s only Enterprise Flash storage system that supports thin provisioning, fast snapshots, remote mirroring, and data deduplication
So far, though, this approach to Flash-as-disk isn’t really flying with storage admins. “This would be the most expensive way of doing SSD,” Tom Becchetti, storage admin for a manufacturing company and NetApp customer, wrote SearchStorage.com today in an email. “What I would like to see is just how EMC implemented their SSD. They have SSD that is physical and logically the same form factor of the hard drive. It would give you the most flexibility and as more SSD vendors show up on the scene, the cost will dramatically fall.”
Denizens of the storage blogosphere were even more outspoken. “Is that it??” was the title of a post on U.K. storage end user Martin Glassborow’s blog, Storagebod. “I expected more, I expected something which was going to force EMC to raise the bar on their SSD implementation.”