Symantec Partnership Tilts Storage System Debate in Violin Memory’s Favor

By August 13, 2012 Symantec No Comments

Flash memory arrays have already earned a reputation as being the most highly performing and energy efficient storage systems available. However the level of trust that enterprises have in the storage management software on these arrays is still being built which results in enterprises being reluctant to use flash memory arrays for hosting anything but a few performance-intensive applications. By Violin Memory now integrating key Symantec Veritas Storage Foundation storage efficiency and storage management technologies into its flash memory arrays, enterprises get the performance and energy efficiencies they want with the proven software stability and reliability they need.

The Flash Memory Array Differentiators

Flash memory arrays have quickly garnered the attention of enterprises for a number of reasons. As the chart below illustrates, they support faster reads and writes, use less power and result in less noise and vibration than the mechanical hard disk drives (HDDs) commonly used in storage systems today.

SSD-Benefits-vs-HDD.jpgSource: DCIG, LLC

Flash memory arrays further differentiate themselves from HDD-based storage arrays by better managing flash memory’s idiosyncrasies. Violin Memory flash Memory Array’s garbage collection, wear-leveling, and write alignment are just some of the tasks that need to routinely run in the background to both ensure the integrity of the data stored on these flash memory arrays and extend the life of their flash memory media.

This combination of factors has resulted in a growing number of large enterprises using flash memory arrays in lieu of HDD-based storage arrays in support of specific applications needing high performance. Two such examples are:

  • AOL replaced five shared high end storage arrays used to support a 50 TB database application with a Violin flash Memory Array to reduce response times from an average of 10-15 ms to under a millisecond.
  • A healthcare organization replaced its Dell MD1000 storage array and its 15K RPM HDDs with a Violin flash Memory Array to support its database application. Using the Violin flash Memory Array it saw an increase in random read throughput from ~250 MB/sec to as high as 1050 MB/sec.

The improvements in application performance that resulted from each organization’s use of flash memory arrays are clearly impressive. However the deployment of these flash memory arrays in these two cases underscores an important point: they were only deployed in support of a specific application. In order for enterprises to adopt flash memory arrays more broadly, flash memory arrays need to include software that optimizes their available capacity, protects their data and is viewed as reliable by enterprises.

Reliable Storage Management Software Key to Accelerating Flash Memory Array Adoption

In order for flash memory arrays to both gain the trust of enterprises and accelerate their adoption within them, they need to accomplish two objectives with their storage management software.

First, the software has to include storage management software that optimizes the available capacity on flash memory arrays and protect the data on them.  The upfront capital costs of flash memory arrays are significantly more than the cost of HDDs. So even with the improvements in performance they provide, not every application can cost justify them.

To address this concern, flash memory arrays need to include features like deduplication and thin provisioning. Using these features, available storage capacity is only allocated when it is actually being used, it is used efficiently when it is allocated and then recovered when it is freed back up.

Organizations will also look to primarily host business critical applications on these flash memory arrays. As such, features such as snapshots become more important to have in place so backups and restores of these applications occur quickly and with minimal disruption to the application.

Second, enterprises need assurance that the software works well and is used by others. Even if a flash memory array does support storage management software with these features, enterprises will proceed cautiously in their use of them. It is only when they are confident in their understanding of how the software works will they adopt them.

The concern here is that this adoption process could take years. First the flash array vendor has to mature the software features on its arrays to the point where enterprises will even consider using them. Second, even once the software is mature a few more years may pass before enterprises take advantage of them.

Violin Memory Partners with Symantec Veritas Storage Foundation for Flash Memory Array Storage Management

It is these two specific concerns that Symantec and Violin Memory address with Violin Memory’s integration of a number of key Symantec Veritas Storage Foundation features into its Flash Memory Arrays. By adopting key storage management intellectual property from Veritas Storage Foundation in its Flash Memory Array, Violin Memory introduces a storage management solution for its Flash Memory Array that already has broad enterprise acceptance.

The features of Storage Foundation that Violin Memory implements on its Flash Memory Arrays are those most advantageous to optimizing the capacity on its arrays and protecting data once it is stored there.

For instance, to optimize storage capacity on its flash Memory Arrays, Violin Memory and Symantec took advantage of the deduplication and thin provisioning features found within Symantec’s Storage Foundation and optimized them to run specifically on Violin’s arrays. To better protect data stored on its flash Memory Arrays, Violin will provide snapshots and clones, based on Veritas Storage Foundation technology, through its Violin Memory Operating System (vMOS). 

The adoption of these software features is important in two ways.

  • First, Violin Memory immediately gets a leg up on other flash memory providers when competing in enterprise accounts. No longer do enterprises have to wonder if or how well these features work on Violin Memory flash Memory Arrays. Violin has taken Symantec’s proven stack of storage management software features and then customized and optimized them for use on Violin Memory arrays.
  • Second, enterprises can start realizing the benefits of flash memory arrays sooner rather than later. Enterprises are savvy. They see the performance improvement and energy efficiencies that flash memory arrays have to offer.

However they also recognize that the storage management software on any new array is usually immature at best.  So no matter how compelling its performance and energy savings are, they are not going to put their business critical applications at risk and host them on a flash memory array.

Through the partnership between Violin Memory and Symantec, enterprises can start to implement flash memory arrays much sooner and on a broader scale as the maturity and proven nature of the Storage Foundation software addresses these concerns.

Symantec Partnership Tilts Stor

age Playing Field Decidedly in Violin’s Favor

Flash memory arrays are faster, more energy efficient and quieter than their HDD-based storage system counterparts. Yet what gives every enterprise pause and typically precludes them from adopting flash memory arrays on a wider scale are their lack of storage management software and/or its immaturity.

By Violin Memory partnering with Symantec Veritas Storage Foundation suite to deliver Symantec’s data management technology in its Flash Memory Arrays, Violin takes one of the main reasons to keep using HDD-based storage arrays for high performance applications off the table. This enables Violin Memory to do more than level the storage playing field. It tilts it decidedly in its favor.

Jerome M. Wendt

About Jerome M. Wendt

President & Lead Analyst of DCIG, Inc. Jerome Wendt is the President and Lead Analyst of DCIG Inc., an independent storage analyst and consulting firm. Mr. Wendt founded the company in September 2006.

Leave a Reply