Given the fact that EMC has the most at stake in the shift to Flash memory, the company’s future plans in this regard are of great interest to many people across the IT spectrum.
At the VMworld 2012 conference this week, EMC announced EMC VFCache, caching software that sits on a server that EMC claims is the first such implementation to support in-line data deduplication. According to Barry Ader, senior director of the EMC Flash Business Unit, that’s significant because most other server cache offerings experience a significant degradation in performance when deduplication is turned on. In contrast, VFCache is designed to not only speed up performance, but also reduce the amount of data that ultimately needs to be stored.
EMC also has plans to build an all-Flash memory appliance, code-named Project Thunder, and is working on an all-Flash memory array that is based on technology that EMC picked up with the recent acquisition of XtremIO. Ultimately, Ader says Flash memory will be used to accelerate application performance at every tier of storage. That obviously reduces dependency on disks for storage performance. In fact, disk themselves will probably only be needed to provide persistent storage of data over an extended period of time.
Clearly there is a race on between EMC and just about every provider of infrastructure to bring Flash memory products to market. EMC may not be first to market in that regard, but the company does have a massive installed base of customers that rely on data management software from EMC to manage storage. It’s only natural that many of those customers will want to extend those existing software investments out to Flash storage. At the same time, however, there are also a significant number of customers who may not want to wait for EMC to deliver that capability.
No matter how things ultimately turn out, it’s apparent that a major transformation in how data is stored and managed in the enterprise is well under way. What’s not exactly certain is who will wind up managing it.