Storage Soup

Nov 16 2010   5:00PM GMT

Violin adds NFS cache with Gear6 software

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

Violin Memory today rolled out caching software based on its acquisition of Gear6 assets, adding a NAS acceleration product to go with its Flash-based SAN memory arrays.

Violin’s vCache uses Gear6’s NFS caching software on Violin’s Flash Memory Arrays. The idea is to remove I/O bottlenecks from NAS systems by creating large memory pools that serve data faster. vCache expands from 1.5 TB to 15TB of useable cache and Violin claims it delivers over 300,000 NFS operations per second over eight 10-Gigabit Ethernet ports. vCache also supports features such as snapshots and deduplication on NAS systems.

When Violin bought Gear6′s assets in June, Violin CEO Don Basile said Gear6 failed to survive because it sold caching software on large expensive appliances. Violin is delivering the software on the 3u arrays it uses for its Flash Memory Arrays. Pricing starts at $40,000 for 1.5 TB of cache.

“Gear6 software was a treasure trove, but its hardware wasn’t as impressive,” Basile said.

Basile sees vCache as competitive with products such as NetApp’s Flash Cache (PAM II) card, Avere’s FXT Series of caching appliances and even Oracle’s Exadata.

“You can buy a small NAS head with low-price software and use cache to accelerate performance,” he said. “We can make the cache as big as you want. You can put it in front of mini arrays and mini servers instead of a filer upgrade.”

The vCache is Violin’s third product, joining the 3200 Flash Memory Array and the 3140 Capacity Flash Memory Array that uses cheaper multi-layer cell (MLC) Flash solid state drive (SSD) technology. Basile said the company has more than 50 customers, and AOL is using 50 TB of Violin Flash devices.

Analysts give Violin credit for expanding its Flash options.

“If Flash is good, then more Flash is better,” said Objective Analysis analyst Jim Handy, who sees vCache as a way to avoid buying extra servers to run databases. “If you have Oracle charging you $30,000 per processor for an annual license and you cut the processors in your systems by spreading the database across multiple servers, you cut cost by $30,000 for every server you eliminate.”

SSG-Now senior analyst Jim Bagley said vCache was a logical addition for Violin. “Violin already had a SAN appliance, and Gear6’s technology puts Violin in the filer front-end,” he said. “Gear6 was a nice pick up.”

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