As Flash memory has begun to become a popular choice across the enterprise, a merger and acquisition frenzy has started. The latest example came this week in the form of the acquisition of WHIPTAIL by Cisco in a deal valued at $415 million.
In addition to giving Cisco access to Flash storage technology that it intends to embed within its Unified Computing System (UCS), Todd Brannon, director of product marketing for unified computing at Cisco, says the acquisition of WHIPTAIL gives the company access to software for managing Flash storage that can be shared across multiple processors.
That’s critical, says Brannon, because with the arrival of the Intel Xeon Processor E5-2600 v2 product family, it’s clear that the amount of I/O memory being processed on the server is about to increase substantially. In fact, Brannon says that Cisco felt the need to acquire WHIPTAIL specifically because Flash memory is becoming a major element of the compute fabric on the server.
Brannon says that doesn’t necessarily mean that Flash will entirely replace magnetic storage, but there is a realignment occuring in terms of where workloads run within the overall data center environment. Cisco partners such as EMC and NetApp, says Brannon, will focus on managing the interplay between different classes of non-volatile storage medium, but with UCS, Cisco is trying to make all the elements of the system available to applications at a higher level abstraction. According to Brannon, that means Cisco needs to own the software on the server that effectively balances the interplay between processors that come with as much as 20MB of on-board memory and Flash memory.
Part of the effort, says Brannon, will involve integrating WHIPTAIL software with data model that Cisco developed to mask the complexity of the underlying infrastructure environment from the application.
With the rise of in-memory database systems, it’s pretty clear that going forward, a large percentage of enterprise computing will be taking place in real time. The only real issue is which server vendor is going to best master the intricacies of delivering the servers needed to actually provide this type of service.