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Commodity servers welcome arrival of flash

Posted: 27 Feb 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SolidFire  flash  server  data centre  cloud 

In normal cases, flash is only added to a computer to accelerate access to data. However, the biggest consumers of flash are the massive arrays filling entire racks for cloud-based high-performance systems. But now, even enterprise data centres and server farms are incorporating flash, but not without the hassle of writing the software that decides what's the most important data to keep in the flash cache, and when to shuffle it back and forth to disk or tape without conflicts.

Rack-sized flash

Rack-sized flash (Source: SolidFire)

That's where SolidFire comes in, which claims to be the number one vendor of solid-state arrays, but also said its software is its only proprietary intellectual property (IP) and is now unbundling it so even the hyperscale server farms can use SolidFire.

"We believe that eventually flash will replace all storage, except perhaps backup and archival data, but for now we want to provide the biggest number of options to allow every server to get in on the acceleration achieved by adding flash to your storage system," said Dave Wright, SolidFire CEO.

SolidFire's main success tactic so far has been to buy flash arrays, package them in their own boxes, then install their proprietary Element operating system (OS) software into a server, which mediates between the flash arrays and the disk farms and tape backup systems. So far, that strategy is growing like gangbusters, giving them 50 per cent growth during each quarter of 2014 and a 570 per cent increase in bookings for high-end enterprise systems in 2014.

Server farm sized flash drive

Server farm sized flash drives are more affordable, but still take up rack space. (Source: SolidFire)

But now they want to conquer the rest of the server world by allowing customers to by their own servers and their own flash memory arrays, then calling SolidFire to come in and install their secret sauce, its Element OS software, to make it all work with their disks and tape drives.

"You might not think so, but there is a lot of complexity in using flash arrays to store the most used data, and keep it in sync with the disks and tape drives; its not just a simple backup operation everyday," said Wright.

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