Earlier this week Violin Memory (NYSE:VMEM) released two new products that close the loop on integrating data services into the company’s familiar 3U appliance.  Under the branding of Flash Storage Platform the company announced the new 7300E entry level model, which scales to 35TB raw (125TB effective), while the 7300 scales to 70TB raw (217TB effective), both in the 3RU form factor.  Scale up capacity is provided by the new 7700 series that combines a pair of 1U controllers and up to six disk shelves (a combination of 7300, 7300E or the previous 6100/6200/6600 models). This equates to a total of 1.3PB effective capacity for a fully configured 7700 array.

The lack of native data services has been an issue for Violin for some time.  The problem was initially addressed through the first release of the 7700 series (June 2014) that used a pair of controllers to deliver the data services with disk capacity provided from connected appliances.  The software was developed in partnership with FalconStor and has subsequently been integrated natively into the 7300/7300 as Concerto OS release 7.

The FalconStor partnership allowed Violin to quickly gain access to badly needed data services.  In a conversation this week with FalconStor CEO Gary Quinn, he told me that the relationship worked both ways, with FalconStor gaining knowledge around managing high performance storage devices such as flash drives and arrays.  The partnership came to a conclusion in 2014.

With Concerto OS 7, Violin Memory have brought themselves on a par with the leading players in the all-flash market, leaping over some like XtremIO in terms of storage density.  What is nice to see is a more open approach being taken with sharing information.  As an example the datasheet for the 7300 series shows figures for throughput based on typical read/write ratios and with data reduction services either enabled or disabled.  As these features can be enabled at a volume level, then customers can quickly see the impact they suffer for the benefit of saving physical capacity.

The Architect’s View

Violin have done well to fill the feature gaps in their portfolio with the release of the new products and Concerto OS 7.  The transparency in reporting highlights the next stage in all-flash evolution and that is the honesty around reporting how well certain features work.  It will no longer be good enough simply to tick a box to say you have a feature; potential customers will want to know how well those features are implemented.  Further information on Violin can be found on the Architecting IT Codex page.  The Flash In The Enterprise 2015 report in partnership with Langton Blue has been updated with information on the latest Concerto OS 7 announcements.

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Written by Chris Evans

With 30+ years in IT, Chris has worked on everything from mainframe to open platforms, Windows and more. During that time, he has focused on storage, developed software and even co-founded a music company in the late 1990s. These days it's all about analysis, advice and consultancy.