Memory is pioneering the future of enterprise solid state systems, with
rackmount flash memory arrays that deliver unprecedented sustainability and
low spike-free latency for users seeking to accelerate business critical
applications and to virtualize and optimize their IT infrastructure.
Specifically designed for
extreme sustained performance with high reliability and serviceability, Violin's
flash-based appliances scale to tens of terabytes of capacity, millions of IOPs
per second, gigabytes per second of bandwidth at low latency. Founded in 2005,
Violin Memory is headquartered in Mountain View, California. For more
information, visit www.vmem.com
- editor mentions on StorageSearch.com and
Violin's SSD blog
who in SSD? - by Zsolt Kerekes -
January 21, 2013
Memory - ranked #2 in the Top SSD Companies in the
1st quarter of 2013
- and the subject of many
and IPO stories during the
past year or so
- has been - for many years - a leader in these segments in the
enterprise SSD market.
recent acquisition of GridIron
Systems (a high caliber
SSD ASAP software IP
company) will enable Violin to strengthen its already established authority in
the enterprise market.
earlier comments:- September 2012
One way to look at
Violin is as the
controller architecture fast enterprise
company which has long wanted to be acquired - but which got passed over when
IBM decided to acquire
Texas Memory Systems.
Violin would have been more in the runnning for this SSD beauty pageant if they
had already had a market proven
PCIe SSD family too.
Because, with TMS, IBM scored leadership in 2
enterprise SSD silos
in one hit. Acquiring Violin plus a PCIe SSD maker would have doubled the cost
and led to inefficiencies in architecte and
was written long before Violin launched its own late to market PCIe SSD product
Here below are some earlier comments - April 2, 2012
Memory is listed in various of my enterprise SSD directories including:-
the top 20 SSD companies,
the fastest SSDs,
FC SAN SSDs and
is an important enterprise SSD company - having been at the #2 slot in
top SSD companies list
for the past 3 quarters.
Here's how the company fits in with my
various SSD classifications
has been telling journalists and analysts that it would like to be acquired or
that it might do an IPO since
continuing that spin - as part of a recent
million Series D funding announcement - Violin recently suggested that it
might be worth more than $800 million.
- SSD market silos:-
Violin is mainly engaged in the "fast rackmount SSD" and "high
availability SSDs" segments.
Nobody can be certain
what any SSD company is really worth - because it depends on the market
context - and Violin is still privately owned. But it can be interesting to make
comparisons with what we know about other SSD companies.
SSD controllers for
example. Violin has its own SSD controller technology. In
bunch of SSD controller companies (SandForce,
for amounts ranging from $300 - $500 million.
That doesn't tell
you what someone might pay for Violin - because the products, business models
and market segments are significantly different. But it gives you a
Here's a what-if? scenario to ponder on.
Violin were to use its controller technology to design and market PCIe SSD
cards - instead of rackmount SSDs that would give it access to bigger markets.
But it doesn't and whether that's a lost opportunity - or the best business
decision that Violin's management ever made remains to be seen.
SSD market segments which Violin does already operate in could grow to be
to accomodate several muli-billion dollar companies - without venturing into
risky PCIe SSD card / component terrirtory.
And in this context you
may be interested in an earlier article -
... if Fusion-io
sells more... does that mean Violin will sell less?
info about Violin Memory take a look at the links above and
- editor mentions on StorageSearch.com
- editor's earlier comments:- November 2011
highly competitive market of enterprise SSDs Violin is unusual in being a
company which - having launched its first product (in
August 2007) -
realized it had got things slightly wrong, then went back into stealth mode,
restructured its product, changed its management team and financing and then
re-emerged a few years later with a better sense of where it was going - and has
since lived to tell the tale. It's #2 in the top SSD companies list (Q3 2011).
wouldn't recommend other companies to try this disjointed route to market - but
sometimes that's just the way it happens. And it shows that if your core
technology is advanced enough - you may have enough time to to learn from
customers what you need to do to re-package the tech in a way that's more
relevant to their needs - before anyone else can get ahead of you and steal the
Violin's first systems (in 2007) were enterprise grade
PCIe connected solid state memory accelerators. As we know from what happened
afterwards - enterprise users are comfortable with the idea of
PCIe SSDs so long as
they are cards - but when it comes to
they prefer to stick with traditional network storage connectivity - rather than
introduce a new type of storage box.
The core of Violin's technology
is a big
architecture memory array which enables non blocking reads after flash
writes, has full duty cycle garbage collection and delivers "spike-free"
When I spoke to Violin's CEO -
Basile recently about this he said that inside their protection
array they're actually doing 5x more IOPS than the customer is seeing
outside the box and on the datasheet.
Speed is a core dimension of
series rackmount SSDs offer. Another is reliability (no single point of
failure). But the company's positioning is that it offers very high density,
high performance tier 1 storage at a competitive
price per terabyte
that connects to legacy SANs. If you like what fast SAN SSDs can do for your
apps - then this one of the companies which has to be on your shortlist.
- editor's earlier comments:- October 2011
Violin Memory - was #2
in the top 20 SSD companies list in Q3 2011 (published by
StorageSearch.com in October 7, 2011) - the company's highest position since
these quarterly search based rankings began - and up 2 positions since the
This ranking improvement was already in place -
before the company announced details of its new tier 1 SSD storage in September
- and affirms my view that when enterprise SSD readers see a product or company
they like the sound of they want to learn more.
When I spoke to
Violin's CEO a few weeks ago - the question of the top SSD companies list did
arise (as it often does when I talk to SSD companies). At the time I
muttered something - like I think you're still doing OK - whereas in fact I
had been seeing searches about the company and its products at the top end of
my analytics screens for a few months - as well as getting frequent questions
about them from VCs and investors.
Congratulations to Violin on
making such a successful come back. (Although there's still a steep hill
to climb to the #1 slot - which got 84% more searches than Violin. Violin
itself got 9% more than the #3 ranked SSD company.)
was the 1st company to focus on the very high performance
PCIe connected SSD
market (in 2007)
and has appeared from time to time in the
fastest SSDs lists.
a few years (2009 and 2010) the company appeared to lose momentum and
focus. When I spoke to
Violin's CEO Don Basile in November 2010 - I said they looked like a
company which had gone back into stealth mode. They are in effect a new company
with new funding ($75 million in the 1st half of 2011) but still marketing the
same technology base products - which due to their holistic design have
very high capacity and performance for their package footprint. Violin says it's
on course to reach $100 million revenue this year.
Violin stand relative to my SSD architecture models?
than new dynasty and
than small) SSD architecture.
Alternatives to Violin Memory?
competing products in this category see the
fastest SSDs and
Other makers of tier 1 FC SAN SSD storage (with hot
replaceable modules) include:-
Kaminario - whose
product line includes MLC and RAM SSD options - and
Huawei Symantec - whose
SLC only product line has lower performance but also lower cost.
makers of FC SAN SSDs which, however, require application dependent
configuration to support failover configurations include:-
Texas Memory Systems
and Solid Access
Many other FC SAN SSD systems appear to overlap with
Violin's product range - but don't in reality compete for the same application
slots. These include auto-tiering
SSDs / ASAPs from Dataram
and GridIron Systems.
And yet another category of similar sounding - but functionally
different - network SSDs is a class of
bulk storage SSDs (with
internal compression and dedupe) from companies like
Nimble Storage and
In August 2007 -
Violin Memory launched
the world's fastest 2U SSD - the
August 2008 -
Violin Memory said it
had delivered 1 million IOPS on a single interface port (a world record)
using the latest version of its RAM based Violin 1010 memory appliance.
November 2008 - Violin
Memory announced availability of a new model - a fast 4TB SLC flash
SSD in a 2U rackmount. Its patent pending non blocking architecture delivers
the best ratio of flash R/W IOPS in the industry - over 200K random Read IOPS
and 100K random Write IOPS (4K block). Interface options include:-
Channel and Ethernet.
In September 2009 -
Violin Memory announced
that Donald Basile has been named CEO. Dr. Basile (with over 20 years of
leadership experience) had recently served as the CEO of
March 2010 - FalconStor
and VAR channel support for Violin Memory's 2U
rackmount FC flash SSD
- the Violin 1010 .
Although the headline specs of this very fast flash SSD are substantially the
same as when it was launched in
the 2 important things which have changed are:-
In April 2010 -
Violin Memory announced
a significant investment from
- the availability of SSD
ASAP-like features implemented by FalconStor's SafeCache and HotZone
2010 - Violin Memory
partnership with Landmark
Ventures a technology-focused strategic advisory and
firm. No details were given but there have been several signs in the past year
that Violin is restructuring itself to better cope with the competitive and
growth demands of the
market. For example - earlier in this month Violin announced the
of former Cisco VP Larry Lang to its board.
In June 2010
- Violin Memory
it has acquired the technology assets of of
2010 - Violin Memory
availability of the
3140 - a 3U MLC SSD with 40TB capacity
priced at under $16
per GB and $3 per
November 2010 - Violin
Memory (which makes
SSD cache solution for NAS
systems which use NFS. Violin says its
vCACHE expands to
15TB of useable cache and delivers over 300,000 NFS operations per second over
8x 10GbE ports.
Editor's comments:- I spoke to
Basile, CEO of Violin Memory, and
Barletta a few days ago to get a current view of how the company sees
itself, competitors and the SSD market. ...click here to read the
In January 2011 -
Violin Memory re-entered
the top 10 in the 15th quarterly edition of the
Top SSD companies.
February 2011 - Violin
a $35 Million Series B funding round which includes
Toshiba - a strategic
investor since April 2010.
In June 2011 -
a $40 Million Series C funding round.
In July 2011 -
Violin Memory anoounced
it had been named
of the year" by AlwaysOn.
September 2011 - Violin
new models and options in its range of fast
FC SAN rackmount SSDs.
series - designed for high availability applications with no single point
of failure and hot swappable "everything" - provides 12TB SLC, or
22TB MLC usable capacity with 200/600 microseconds mixed latency, 1 million /
500K sustained RAIDed spike free write IOPS, in 3U rackspace at a list price
around $37K / $20K per terabyte.
In October 2011 -
Violin Memory achieved
its highest ever ranking in StorageSearch.com's 18th quarterly list of the Top
SSD Companies. Violin was #2 - based on search volume which tracked over
350,000 online SSD readers in the 3rd quarter of 2011.
2013 - Violin
January 2013 - Violin
also entered the
PCIe SSD card market.
Its full height Velocity cards have upto 11TB raw (8TB usable) capacity and
deliver upto 500K
|World's 1st PCIe rackmount
|In August 2007 -
Violin launched the
world's fastest 2U SSD.|
This was the 1st time that a
had been featured on StorageSearch.com.
Earlier SSDs with a claim to
ultra speed fame had included
There were 2 things which stood out when this product was
1 - the high density (compared to other
RAM SSD products), and
2 - Violin's promise to follow up with a later flash SSD model with
the same interface and form factor. That promise was made good in
November 2008 -
when the company announced a 4TB SLC flash 2U model with over 200K random Read
IOPS and 100K random Write IOPS (4K blocks).
|"I've never seen such
a good way of explaining the underlying differences in a way which can be so
easily digested by a non technical audience."|
|Editor:- June 3, 2013 - in
SSD news |
re Violin's recent
|guides related to Violin's
position in the SSD market|
VCs and SSDs
the fastest SSDs
the Top SSD companies
- making the same SSD - with less flash
how will Memory
Channel SSDs impact PCIe SSDs?
factors which influence
and limit flash SSD performance
|Violin enters the PCIe SSD
|Editor:- March 4, 2013 - Violin is entering the
market for PCIe SSDs.
PCIe Memory Cards range have
regular RAM caches
and are available in 3 physical sizes.
- Low profile - 1.37TB raw capacity, 110K
- Full height, half length - upto 5.5TB raw capacity, upto 250K IOPS
comments:- in October
2012 - I wrote that Violin's lack of a PCIe SSD card product line was a
serious business weakness - which limited their accessible revenue in the
enterprise SSD market.
- Full height - upto 11TB raw (8TB usable) capacity, upto 500K IOPS
This product gap would have been an important
scoring factor in any potential company assessing Violin's value as an
It was one of several significant reasons why
Texas Memory Systems
IBM) looked like a much
more attractive acquisition candidate in the early part of last year than
Violin - even though both companies had market-leading
SSD architectures - and despite Violin having sought acquisition much
Violin's lack of a PCIe SSD product line till now was a serious
misjudgement of the opportunities
for its technology in the enterprise SSD market and not due to any technical
defficiencies. The company's first SSD racks launched in
(the Violin 1010 Memory
Appliance) had - in fact - been launched with PCIe interfaces.
will Violin's late entry into the PCIe SSD card / module market impact
The established leaders in this market space are:-
Texas Memory Systems,
OCZ (and another 35 or so
companies are listed on our
PCIe SSD page). One
more company in this market mix won't make any material difference to sales
forecasts - even if that newcomer is Violin. Instead it will mean that the
fuzzy edge of users' vendor shortlists will appear sharper - and companies
which shouldn't have been in these lists in the first place will drop out. (But
they wouldn't have been the ones who got the business anyway. There are a lot of
different specialized types of PCIe SSDs - and
just because they may
look the same on the outside - doesn't mean they compete equally for the same
My guess is that Violin's new products will be most
attractive to companies which already like its rackmounts - and who were already
looking for a more complete single supplier solution around which to hang their
So I anticipate that customers in the big web economy and
SSD dark matter users
will predominate early demand for these new products. And - for any server
companies which haven't yet acquired their own enterprise SSD IP - Violin (the
company) will now look more attractive too.
release later today:- we learned that the final stimulus which nudged
Violin tipping into the PCIe SSD market may have been:- hints, inducements
and probably pressure from investor, memory supplier and wannabe-bigger-in-SSD
partner - Toshiba.
also:- my classic article -
if Fusion-io sells
more - does that mean Violin will sell less?
acquires GridIron |
|Editor:- January 21, 2013 - Violin today
it has acquired GridIron
Editor's comments:- in
October 2012 I
listed GridIron as 1 of the 3 main contenders to
Fusion-io in the
enterprise SSD software
stakes -with the qualifying comment...
"GridIron - probably has
the most sophisticated SSD
ASAP software in the industry. But it's a shame it has been tied (until
recently) to their hardware - an SSD HDD hybrid box."
announcement - which adds to the growing list of
acquisitions in the modern era of the SSD market - will enable Violin to
strengthen its already established authority in the enterprise SSD rack market.
|valuing Violin |
|Editor:- October 17, 2012 - today an
in Bloomberg speculates that an upcoming IPO by Violin could possibly
value the company in the region of $2 billion.|
|eWEEK article about Violin
|Editor:- October 22, 2012 - an
in eWEEK.com discusses the future of the relationship that HP has with Violin in the context
of an email to the publication suggesting that HP's 3PAR product line is HP's
sole strategic direction for solid-state storage. ...read
Editor's comments:- as Violin has already
started the process of preparing for a possible IPO - the company is probably
best advised not to participate directly in public speculations about its
future business. However, carrying on its normal day to day activities is
allowed - and the eWEEK story was linked from
Violin's own media coverage page.
commented on the strengths and weaknesses of Violin many times before in
past editions of the Top
SSD Companies and won't repeat those points here.
neither HP nor 3PAR has ever appeared in this list and HP is not regarded in
any way (by people who know the SSD market) as a thought leader or business
leader in SSDs, but rather is seen as a distributor, oem, reseller or
possible acquirer of other people's SSD stuff - it doesn't really matter what
HP thinks or says about SSDs.
Violin is well known - among people who
buy enterprise SSDs. And if users like Violin's SSDs - and can't get them via HP
- it only takes a few clicks to get them somewhere else.
PS - when I
looked at Violin's web site today
it looked as if someone had hacked and trashed their home page. I showed it to
a colleague of mine - and said - "Isn't it dreadful that something like
that can happen!"
She said - "No
You're wrong. Violin probably paid someone to do that."
video re advantages of home grown controllers|
|Editor:- January 23, 2012 - I commented recently
that the top 10 SSD
companies in Q4 2011 all had one thing in common (apart from the fact they
make SSDs) - they all had their own proprietary
architecture which they could use to optimize products for some application
markets (even if some of them also used other controllers too). |
video - Violin's,
CTO Software Jonathan Goldick
talks about the benefits they get from having their own controller.
naked cost advantages in reliable SSD arrays|
|Editor:- September 27, 2011 -
today announced new models and options in its range of fast
FC SAN rackmount SSDs.
series - designed for
applications with no single point of failure and hot swappable "everything"
- provides 12TB SLC, or 22TB MLC usable capacity with 200/600 microseconds
mixed latency, 1 million / 500K sustained RAIDed spike free write IOPS, in 3U
rackspace at a list price around $37K / $20K per terabyte.
demanding applications (but still featuring hot swap memory modules) the
company has also extended its lower priced
to 16TB SLC usable capacity.
Editor's comments:- when I spoke
to Violin's CEO -
Basile about the new 6000 series he was curious about how I would tell
you what's unique about this product and signal whether it's relevant to you or
I said - when it comes to reliability -
you've either got it - or you haven't - and there aren't too many enterprise
SSD systems which have hot-swap everything. That's one of the reasons the
latency looks slow - compared to many other fast SSDs - because the figures
quoted here include the latency of the internal factory built protection
Another angle - I said is your product is an example of
architecture". When I explained what I meant - Don agreed and said
what it means for the customer is
Because when you look at the raw capacity that's lost to over-provisioning
and RAID like protection
and get down to the usable capacity that the customer sees in an MLC rack - say
- then Violin's 6000 delivers about 70% of the raw capacity - versus nearer to
30% in an array of 2.5"
SSDs for example. That confers a 2 to 1 native cost and density
(SSD TB/U) advantage.
I said Violin's density looks good too - compared
say to Kaminario's K2.
also said - that our SSD readers would recognize what was meant by "spike-free"
IOPS - because of various
about this - and because another enterprise flash vendor -
Virident Systems -
had made that one of the
talk about compared to some other flash
PCIe SSD companies. I
knew that in Violin's case that was due to their patented non-blocking write
architecture - which was explained to me when their
products came to market in 2008.
Don said - that inside their
protection array they're actually doing 5x more IOPS than the customer
is seeing outside the box and on the datasheet - and that helps too.
also asked about price - and where they were relative to $30K / TB - which is
the ballpark for this type of product - and you can see where Violin are above.
That's a competitive figure for a no SPOF SSD.
I said that for people
who are serious about enterprise SSDs it's relatively easy to decide what
products you may want to focus in on after just seeing a couple of simple
Don did also mention a comparative write up - about their
SSD versus another so called "tier 1" storage solution - from
EMC. Violin think it
makes them look pretty good - but I can't understand why anyone cares how they
stack up to EMC - who never understood the SSD plot - which is why their (at
one time) prime SSD supplier
STEC has had a bumpy
revenue stream in recent years.
I had one final question for Don -
which wasn't about Violin's new SSD - but about
which had come to my attention while I was googling the company just before
||When can we expect to see a
picture of a naked man featured on a
poster ad? - I asked.|
He laughed and indicated it wouldn't be