One of the challenges that every IT planner is trying to figure out is what size, both in terms of capacity and performance, storage system they should invest in. They need to make sure that the storage system will not only meet their upfront but long term capacity needs as well. An incorrect calculation can lead to the purchase of an additional storage system and all the management overhead and costs that comes along with it.
To avoid this situation, many data centers are looking to scale-out storage or cloud storage to meet the challenge of business unpredictability. The problem is that both of these solutions have their downsides. Scale-out storage creates some initial sizing concerns of its own, and it can have per workload performance limitations. Cloud storage can start at almost any size, but there is a latency concern, as well as the ongoing cost of paying for the same storage capacity over and over again.
Windows Focused All-Flash
Violin’s Microsoft Windows focused solution is the Windows Flash Array. Introduced this past April, this system places a Windows Server directly inside a Violin Memory Flash Array. It provides SMB Direct for Microsoft Applications, supports RDMA to act as a storage super highway and enables native file server functions. Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) capability. Network adapters that have RDMA can function at full speed with very low latency, while using very little CPU. For workloads such as Hyper-V or Microsoft SQL Server, this enables a remote file server to resemble local storage.
The Windows Flash Array also leverages additional features of Windows Server such as encryption, deduplication, live migration, mirroring and the ability to create a scale-out architecture. The net is an incredible speed boost for Windows applications and the system positions Hyper-V to be a legitimate enterprise play.
In just a few months after its initial implementation, Violin claims they are already seeing excellent market traction and capturing revenue customers. To keep the momentum going, Violin has already announced an update that features pay as you grow pricing, 4 new capacity models, InfiniBand connectivity and NFS 3.0/4.1 support.
Pay As You Grow – An All-Flash First?
While each of these new capabilities has value, pay as you grow pricing is going to get the most attention. It allows the system to be delivered at a much higher capacity level than what is needed initially and then have that capacity turned on and paid for as it is needed. This matches how customers tend to consume flash solutions. Flash is first brought in to solve a particular performance problem for a specific application. Then when that problem is addressed, the IT team starts to look for other use cases. But the challenge is, they may not have enough capacity to bring those other use cases into the all-flash fold. With Violin, they can simply turn on a license and they are ready to go.
The other capabilities introduced with their April announcement, of course, will also have appeal. Infiniband provides another high performance networking option and NFS potentially allows mixed hypervisor environments to leverage the Windows Flash Array.
Storage Swiss Take
Violin is doing more than taking the Windows Server market seriously, they are expanding the use case for Windows Server while at the same time changing the performance perception of applications based on what the platform can deliver. This latest round of announcements positions Violin to enter into a broader section of the Windows market with a solution that presents a viable alternative to scale-out and cloud based storage solutions.
Violin is not a client of Storage Switzerland