by Zsolt Kerekes,
|Fusion-io enters the
iSCSI array market|
Editor:- April 24, 2013 - Fusion-io made 2
significant announcements today.
The 1st of these was anticipated:-
financial results for the quarter ended March 31 - revenue of $88 million
(down 27% from the preceding quarter and down 7% from the year
The 2nd of these was the real news -
FIO has acquired another company -
NexGen Storage (for $119
are SSD ASAPs
(hybrid caching systems with integrated real-time
dedupe and QoS
controls for VDI apps) which use Fusion's PCIe SSDs in standard servers with
conventional hard drives to deliver
iSCSI hybrid storage for
SME and departmental needs in a 3U rack which delivers upto 150K IOPS and
16TB to 192TB raw capacity.
that on a per-U basis their systems deliver 10x more IOPS than HDD arrays,
3x more IOPS / U than conventional hybrid arrays and 3x more GB / U for VDI apps
than pure SSD arrays.
These kinds of comparisons always depend on
which competitor you're comparing with and when the comparison was done.
However - the company has enough customer case studies and independent
analysis papers on its site to show that real customers liked the products.
up the 2 stories today?
FIO had already indicated that its revenue
from its known biggest customers would decline for a few quarters - so the
financial results are not a great surprise. But the NexGen announcement has
opened the door to an entirely new type of customer for Fusion-io at the other
end of the SSD adoption scale - compared to the well known big customers which
have until now dominated FIO's business.
Will it work?
used to being the leader in the
PCIe SSD market which
it largely helped to create as a significant new part of the server ecosystem.
But it will require a different type of marketing and business development
approach to convert the potential of NexGen's technology into an equivalent
leading role in the more conservative and crowded iSCSI market.
the other hand if you add NexGen's hybrid iSCSI IP to the marketing magic of
Fusion-io - it's safe to predict that the iSCSI market will soon be getting a
wake up call the likes of which it has never seen before.
...Next on the SSD world domination agenda - create better value
in the cost sensitive iSCSI market
Editor:- April 23, 2013 - The iSCSI market hasn't been a
fertile business development ground for SSD sales - a factor which I ascribe
to the mood prevailing at its birth.
At the start of 2001 - when
the idea of iSCSI first attracted interest on the web - the
storage market was still in
a recession which would continue for another 2 years. Users could buy new
or little used servers and storage recycled from the spending spree of failed
dotcom companies for next to nothing. There was already a proven fast way of
doing fast network storage - fibre-channel
which had been around since
1994 (but it was complex to set up). Those various factors meant that iSCSI
evolved - by necessity - into a cheap, simple to set up and maintain storage
ecosystem for frugal applications which needed data.
was nothing hard wired into the technology which prevented it from being scaled
up - most of the early attempts by vendors to nudge iSCSI into the fast lane
with dedicated hardware accelerators failed. There was no real customer
appetite in the iSCSI base to encourage vendors to push for fast random IOPS
or low latency. iSCSI was the frugal way of doing complicated network
That's another reason why - prior to 2013 - none of the top
10 enterprise pure SSD array companies started in iSCSI. There wasn't enough
market demand for the kind of low latency and fast IOPS which could open enough
doors for SSDs in storage cabinets to make it worthwhile. Instead, most of the
iSCSI arrays which have been in the market until recently were originally
developed around technology optimized for FC SAN or were simply iSCSI HDD
arrays with some SSDs thrown into some of the bays. When you saw "iSCSI"
on the datasheet of a fast SSD you knew it had most likely been added
to a model which had already been optimized for another market.
could say that iSCSI has been a safe haven for enterprise
hard drives - because
whenever there has been a tension in the feature set between the cost of
incremental capacity versus the value of incremental performance - it was cost
- and getting the cost down as low as possible - which usually won.
explained in my Petabyte
SSD roadmap article a few years ago why one day - even the mantle of low
cost per raw terabyte wouldn't be enough to protect delinquently slow and
ineffcient hard drives from being evicted from enterprise network storage
racks. And this culture shock will be knocking at the door of the iSCSI market
from various different vendor directions in the coming year - with increasing
I was pondering these factors last week when I was waiting to
Rosenthal, Senior VP Marketing Astute Networks who
wanted to talk about the
of new models in their ViSX family of fast-enough iSCSI rackmount SSDs -
which have upto 45TB of raw SSD storage in a 2U rack which with
can deliver $2,000 / TB and even with dedupe switched off - comes in at about
$5,000 / TB while being able to offer more than double the IOPS of much higher
priced competing SSD systems.
The first thing I asked about was the
company's iSCSI accelerator chip - which is one of the two technology factors
which give them an edge in iSCSI. I had heard about it many years ago - but the
company doesn't say much about it now. Len told me they were now on the 3rd
generation of their iSCSI accelerator chip. The 1st generation had been
designed for a US Navy project to enable fast access to embedded storage
located around a ship while using COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) servers and
In Astute's current ViSX systems I think you can view the
iSCSI accelerator as being the technology which buys the time (in latency cost)
which can then be spent on dependable real-time dedupe.
me that although Astute have always known this gives them a theoretical
performance advantage compared to competitors who use similar types of flash -
it's only when he engaged Demartek
to do some comparative testing recently and gave them a free hand to explore
the differences - that they realized just how good their systems were. (I've
seen summaries of these benchmarks - and they do confirm the advantages of the
Astute's new systems do now seem to offer a hard to
beat SSD package for users in the mainstream iSCSI market. Len described
this as "making flash affordable for the mid market."
earlier generations of iSCSI flash were too expensive for most users. But the
current generation - not only offers attractive pricing - but comes with proven
technologies - and cost effective replication - by what the company calls
availability groups" (pdf)- which enables users to choose which
systems provide failover clustering - and whether that's local or remote. In
addition to providing data continuity when things fail - this scheme can also
provide load balancing and imporved performance in the normal (unfailed)
One of the things which came across clearly from talking to Len
is that Astute Networks is totally focused on the iSCSI SSD market. They
know the market, they know the apps - and they aim to be one of the leading
suppliers in this niche. For them iSCSI isn't something on the tick list - it's
the whole list.
Fusion-io acquires SCSI target IP team
March 18, 2013 - Fusion-io
today that it has acquired another
company - ID7 - which had been
collaborating on the development of FIO's
ID7 was the primary developer of the
SCST (SCSI target subsystem for
Linux) that enables replication, thin provisioning, deduplication, high
availability, and automatic backup on any Linux server or appliance.
had an opportunity to work with Fusion-io on the development of the ION Data
Accelerator..." said Mark Klarzynski,
Founder and CTO of ID7 (who
today about the acquisition).. "We're excited to join the Fusion-io team...
to work together on open, software defined solutions to today's most
challenging data demands."
Skyera gets $51 million from Dell
February 21, 2013 - Skyera
it has closed $51.6 million in financing led by
use the money to accelerate its integration of the latest-generation flash
technology and also to drive broader market adoption of its
Skyhawk family of
"The investment in Skyera is one example of how we are
Data Storage Fund to target areas critical to the evolution of storage..."said
Managing Director of Dell Ventures. See also:-
VCs in SSDs
SanDisk invests in WhipTail
Editor:- December 13,
2012 - WhipTail
it has secured $31 million series C funding from a group of investors which
(as part of an ongoing strategic priorities
initiative), an unnamed "Silicon Valley industry titan" and some
private equity companies.
GreenBytes gets $12 million in Series B funding
May 29, 2012 - GreenBytes
it has raised an additional $12 million in Series B funding from Generation
Investment Management LLP with participation from Battery Ventures and
GreenBytes management which the company will use to expand sales and
Editor's comments:- GreenBytes' systems are
SSD ASAPs which
include both SSD and HDD drives. The company's
GO OS (Globally Optimized
Operating System) provides performance at a level which I would characterize
at the slow end of fast-enough
enterprise SSD storage (around 70K
compression and other optimizations enabled, while offering 60TB of virtual
storage in a 3U rack. Drobo's new SSD ASAP uses SAS SSDs from OCZ
March 8, 2012 - OCZ
announced that its Talos
SAS SSDs) will be
used in Drobo's
range of iSCSI
auto-tiering systems (SSD
This is Drobo's first product to leverage the benefits
"Just like larger organisations, SMEs should be able to
afford and enjoy the benefits of SSD technology and performance," said Tom Buiocchi,
CEO of Drobo. "For the best capacity and performance, our unique
data-aware tiering allows customers to easily and affordably add SSDs to the
same Drobo environment that already has high-capacity traditional disk drives."
NexGen enters iSCSI auto-tiering SSD ASAP market
November 8, 2011 - NexGen
emerged from stealth mode and
general availability of its first product - the
n5 - a 3U
real-time compression appliance - which internally leverages 48GB
1.3TB PCIe SSD and
32TB raw SAS
HDD capacity to deliver
120TB RAID protected
usable fast virtual storage with adjustable performance QoS for every volume.
SolidFire gets more funding for iSCSI cloud SSDs
October 25, 2011 - SolidFire
announced that it has
$25 million in its second funding round, bringing its total funding to $37
SolidFire's founder and CEO, Dave Wright said - "The
response to our Early Access Program... has been overwhelming. We have a very
solid sales pipeline and we will be investing in our sales and marketing team to
respond to customer interest and accelerate our growth."
comments:- The raw building block in SolidFire's product -
the SF 3010 (pdf)
- is a 1U system with 10 internal
2.5" SSDs (giving
3TB raw capacity) and with 72GB
also:- iSCSI SSDs
and cloud storage.
SDS shrinks SSD IOPS in VMware
Editor:- September 15,
2011 - the use of
with VMware has popped up in these news pages in recent years more times
than I care to count. But I got a new angle on this a few days ago in a
discussion with Linda LaPorta,
President of Superior
Data Solutions .
Now you may ask - who is SDS? (the spelling is
important here) and what do they know about SSDs? (It had been several
years since I last heard from them too.) But you've all heard about
STEC's ZeusIOPS - right?
- Well SDS was
selling this particular enterprise flash SSD design in 2006 - before STEC
acquired it from Gnutek.
An SDS platform was also one of
Sun's early SSD offerings
too. But SDS have switched focus from raw hardware to applications - and they
are the US distributor for a product called
LaPorta told me - "...Our software is changing the game in VDI. Right now
IOPs is a big barrier to the acceptance of VDI because the cost to implement
storage can be very high. (Windows 7 users are figuring 24-28 IOPs per VM
pricey if you need to provision HDAs for 10,000). We need a fast IO device to
store the virtual applications. We like a fast SSD, but it only needs to be 100
to 200GB. It is a read only drive that stores the master image of each
application. All the VM's go to a well cached
raid system. This is
where we reduce the IOPs to 2-4 /VM and we keep the capacity requirement
to 3GB/per VM (which is actually making it AFFORDABLE to consider all SSD
instead of HDDs)..."
Demartek publishes free 86 page iSCSI guide
May 31, 2011 - Demartek
has published an
Deployment Guide (86 pages pdf) aimed at users in Windows environments.
- "This guide is intended to be used as a reference and is divided into
sections including iSCSI marketplace data, iSCSI technology areas, and specific
vendor products in the area of network adapters and storage targets. There are
screen shots and information from actual deployments of these products."
StoneFly accelerates iSCSI with Fusion-io
March 30, 2011 -StoneFly
that it will integrate Fusion-io's ioMemory
accelerators into its iSCSI
"By marrying our software with Fusion's cards,
we provide customers with the possibility of creating a fully scalable, high
availability, and high performance IP SAN storage system," says Mo Tahmasebi,
StoneFly's President and CEO . "We are very excited to introduce this first
of its kind breakthrough product line."
Alacritech enters SSD ASAP market
11, 2011 - Alacritech
1500 ($70,000 base price) - a 2U
SSD ASAP optimized
for the NAS market - which
the company claims can deliver 120,000 NFS OPS when configured with 48GB of
DRAM and up to 4TB flash SSD.
Ampex ships rugged iSCSI SSD
Editor:- October 19,
2009 - Ampex
announced first customer shipments of the TuffServ 480 SSD - a rugged
iSCSI SSD for airborne
applications to General Atomics.
TuffServ 480 provides
2TB of RAID protected hot swappable flash storage in a conduction cooled
MIL-STD-810F certified compact package measuring 5.25" H x 7.25" W x
"Higher performance, smaller size, and lighter weight,
and all at a lower cost," is the way that Business Development Manager John
Hardy described Ampex' s new airborne solid-state server system. "The
TuffServ 480 system is specifically designed to meet our customers ever growing
data acquisition needs."
history - (35 years of technical product milestones)|