Violin Memory Bridges Gap Between Flash and Magnetic Storage

Mike Vizard
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Flash memory is at a critical juncture in the enterprise. Up until now, the acquisition of solid-state storage systems has been driven by developers and database administrators seeking to boost the performance of a particular application. But as the solid-state drives have matured, storage administrators now view Flash memory as another tier of storage. The challenge is figuring out how to manage Flash memory in concert with all the other tiers of storage in the enterprise.

Most providers of Flash and magnetic storage systems have opted for an approach that requires IT organizations to upgrade to a new platform. Most storage administrators are looking for a more seamless way to layer Flash storage technology in a way that protects their investments in existing magnetic storage systems.

To address that challenge, Violin Memory recently launched Maestro Memory Services Software, which automatically tiers data across Violin Flash storage and existing legacy magnetic storage systems.

According to Narayan Venkat, vice president of products for Violin Memory, the goal is to keep as much of an organization’s hot data available as possible on Flash while moving all the cold data to magnetic storage systems. What makes the Violin approach to tiered data different, says Venkat, is that it is agnostic in terms of the magnetic storage system being used.

Fresh off an initial public offering, Venkat says Violin Memory now has the resources needed to compete with what has become a crowded SSD field. However, Violin Memory has already pushed SSD pricing below $5 per gigabyte, inked an alliance with SAP, and built a solid customer base largely via a now defunct reseller partnership with HP.

The main challenge facing storage administrators these days is figuring out how to strike the right balance between Flash and magnetic storage when magnetic storage technologies are rapidly evolving. It’s unlikely that either of these technologies is going to obviate the need for the other any time soon. In fact, it’s far more likely they are both going to be permanent fixtures within larger enterprise storage architectures for years to come.

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