The Rise of Memory

Michael Vizard

With multiple applications now starting to routinely share access to the same storage, performance issues have started to dog both virtualization and private cloud computing deployments. And, as is often the case across the history of IT, new technologies have suddenly emerged to address the problem.

In the case of storage, that new technology is memory arrays, which are storage systems that are based entirely on high-performance Flash memory. Case in point is a new 6000 series of arrays from Violin Memory that are capable of storing 160 TB of data in a rack with 10 million IOPS and 40GB per second of performance.

According to Violin Memory CEO Don Basile, the 6000 series represents the company's first foray into real enterprise-class storage based on memory technology. Basile says that memory-based storage arrays are ideal for Tier One storage scenarios where you are not only looking for better performance, but also want to reduce the physical footprint of the storage environment and the amount of power being consumed.

In fact, Basile says the real question at this point is how long will it take for memory-based storage technologies to supplant disk-based storage in the enterprise? As the price of memory continues to fall, it's rapidly becoming less expensive to acquire memory-based arrays that also serve to reduce the total cost of ownership for storage by reducing the number of bulky disk arrays that need to be powered and managed.

What Violin Memory has done, says Basile, is create a non-invasive approach to introducing memory-based storage into the enterprise without requiring any changes to existing applications.

Given all the growing concerns over storage performance, it would seem the memory-based storage is a technology whose time has finally come. That doesn't mean that disk-based storage systems are going to disappear overnight, but it does mean that they are about to push down a tier in the hierarchy of storage.

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