EMC has a VFCache server-side PCIe card, and its roadmap includes a PCIe-based shared storage appliance and all-flash array — all pieces NetApp lacks. And while EMC predicts a hybrid implementation of SSD and hard drives in the same system will be the most popular, NetApp maintains Flash Cache is the best way to go. NetApp is also more guarded about its flash roadmap than EMC.
“We have consistently said that flash will be deployed throughout the hardware stack, and our flash offerings will be aggressive and multi-faceted,” NetApp CEO Tom Georgens said on the vendor’s earnings call this week. “Our belief is that offering flash primarily in the form of the cache is the most efficient and effective way to deploy this technology in storage arrays, and most of the industry is now following this approach.”
Georgens said all NetApp FAS6000 systems have 500 GB of flash embedded, and most FAS3240 and3270 arrays ship with flash. “Our R&D pipeline contains projects to further the use of flash on other layers of the stack, and our next release of OnTap [NetApp’s operating system] will contain additional flash-related offerings,” he said.
NetApp executives visited XtremIO’s Israeli headquarters before EMC grabbed the all-flash array startup for $430 million. An analyst on the call suggested EMC outbid NetApp for XtremIO as it did for Data Domain three years ago, but Georgens would not confirm that NetApp wanted XtremIO.
“Obviously, we spend time with a lot of people and visit a lot of people, talk to a lot of people about potential engagements,” he said. “As far as flash goes, I see that as an innovation and a way to promulgate our data management capability. And that’s going to be the key part of our strategy. So I think you’ll see NetApp participating in flash on multiple dimensions, and primarily, it is to expand our data management footprint.”]]>
That’s a steep price for a company that is not even shipping products yet, but it underscores EMC’s serious push into flash. EMC said it will reveal details about its plans for XtremIo at EMC World later this month. EMC is also expected to flesh out details about its PCIe-based “Project Thunder” shared storage appliance at the show.
According to the XtremIO website, it’s product is a clustered flash array that scales out for capacity and performance. XtremIO claims the system can be rapidly deployed with simple steps for creating volumes, defining hosts, and mapping volumes to host. The arrays support thin provisioning and global deduplication for primary storage, and XtremIO said it would be cost competitive with performance spinning disk storage.]]>
Now it appears that EMC may add one of those product types by acquiring all-flash storage array startup XtremIO. Israeli business newspaper Globes today reports that EMC is discussing a buyout of the Tel Aviv-based startup for $400 million to $450 million.
While EMC can offer its traditional arrays with all solid-state drives (SSDs) in place of hard drives, XtremIO is part of a rapidly growing group of startups that engineered their systems from the ground up to take advantage of flash. The XtremIO Flash Array is still in customer trials. The vendor positions it as a way to lift I/O constraints for applications such as Oracle or SQL databases, ERP systems, and virtual desktop infrastructures or other heavily virtualized environments.
One of XtremIO’s founders, Shuki Bruck, also founded file virtualization vendor Rainfinity and sold it to EMC in 2005.
An EMC-XtremIO acquisition could start off a feeding frenzy for traditional storage vendors looking to accelerate their ability to take all-flash arrays to market. Globes reported NetApp executives have also visited Israel to talk to XtremIO (Wall Street rumors also say NetApp is looking at buying Fusion-io). Other all-flash vendors that might make acquisition targets include Violin Memory, Nimbus Data, SolidFire, Texas Memory Systems, Kaminario, GreenBytes, Pure Storage and Whiptail.]]>