Giving Flash Storage Credibility


This content is over 24 months old. While the research and opinions expressed by Neuralytix was valid when published, readers should not rely on the applicability of the content in the context of today’s market.


There has been a lot of discussion over the use of solid state storage in the datacenter. Where should flash be integrated? At the server? At the storage? In the storage network?

On August 14, 2012, Violin Memory, a pioneer in the use of NAND Flash memory announced the availability of new data management services for their flash memory arrays.

Violin licensed technologies from Symantec to provide its flash arrays with:

  • Snapshots
  • Clones
  • Thin-Provisioning
  • Full-disk encryption (FDE)
  • De-duplication
  • Asynchronous Replication

By integrating these features and functions into its Violin Memory Operating System (vMOS), essentially, Violin has turned its all-flash memory arrays into a full featured storage system.

Neuralytix Perspective

NAND flash based storage devices and storage systems are not about storage per se. In fact, flash based storage is more about compute than storage.

However, what Violin has done is bridged the gap between memory and storage. Without the announced data management services, Violin devices could really only serve a specific part of the market – those applications that demand massive amounts of I/O and are sensitive to latency.. Whilst these workloads are certainly gaining popularity, the market available to Violin would have still been finite.

By adding data management services to their devices, this moves Violin Memory from being a storage device to being a storage system. It allows them to compete with other storage vendors irrespective of the disk media used – SSD only , hard disk drive (HDD) only or a hybrid of both Ultimately, Neuralytix believes that Violin Memory will be competing with the as yet unreleased XtremIO product from EMC (an acquisition that EMC made in May, 2012).

Neuralytix research shows that much of Violin’s competition is against EMC Symmetrix VMAX. For non in-memory, yet I/O intensive applications, such as relational databases, the move to an all flash storage system makes sense. Many end-users invested in high end storage systems to achieve high IOPS. Historically, in order to achieve this, end-users had to deploy hundreds or thousands of magnetic rotating HDDs to meet the IOPS requirements of their application. Therefore, much of the capacity is wasted or at least underutilized.

Using an all flash storage system can actually reduce capital and operating expenses dramatically.

Ultimately, choosing an all flash array to improve performance should never be measured in terms of dollars per gigabyte ($/GB). Flash should only be considered in the context of performance and not storage capacity.

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