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Titanic storage wrestlers grapple in summer frenzy

Keep up at the back there

This week is turning out to be a massive raft of storage news. Ready for the deluge? Here we go:

In the flash galaxy, astronomers have discovered a Micron cluster formed from little flashes of light:

  • Flash cache software supplier VeloBit has a sampling programme with Micron, the memory chip fryer. Customers get a bundled pairing of VeloBit software and a Micron solid-state disk (SSD) for evaluation.
  • All-flash array startup Whiptail is going to use Micron SSDs in its arrays from now on. Whiptail co-founder, CEO and CTO James Candelaria said: "After testing several drive manufacturers, we selected Micron due to its superior drive performance as well as our combined alignment on company culture and corporate values."

    A combined alignment on company culture and corporate values? Tiny Whiptail and massive Micron with its $8.6 billion annual revenues? You're having us on.

  • Micron's merger with Elpida is slowly progressing despite antagonism from Elpida bondholders. Micron is going to raise its offer for Elpida to 280 billion yen ($3.5 billion).
  • Elpida president Yukio Sakamoto will stand down when the merger completes, according to reports.

There was also news from the Marvell, cluster which is now orbiting the SanDisk star:

  • Its DragonFly server I/O write-back caching device, which features non-volatile memory, is generally available.
  • SanDisk and Marvell are partnering to build storage micro-servers. Marvell has an ARM-powered SSD reference design using its ARMADA XP, a quad-core processor, and its 88SE9445 PCIe-SAS/SATA controller with SanDisk X100 SSDs: it can store 256GB in an mSATA form-factor. This is a storage micro-server for enterprise clouds.

The Toshiba star is shining brighter and has new flash and disk planets in orbit. It has three PX-Series enterprise SSDs: the PX02SM uses 24nm eMLC flash, comes in 200GB, 400GB, 800GB and 1.6TB capacities, and has a dual-port 12Gbit/s SAS interface.

  • The PX02AM is an entry-level/mid-range server and storage array SSD using the same flash with a 6Gbit/s SATA interface and 100GB, 200GB and 400GB capacities.
  • The PX02AN is an entry-level server drive and uses 19nm NAND, a first for Tosh, with 55GB, 120GB, 240GB and 480GB capacities.
  • The PX02SM SSDs ship in October, with the 1.6TB drive shipping later in the fourth quarter. THe others will start shipping by the end of the year.

LSI is trying to form its own cluster:

  • Caching software startup Proximal Data is having its VMware ESXi AutoCache software combined with LSI's PCIe-connected Nytro WarpDrive flash cards so that read requests from backend networked storage arrays are accelerated.
  • Later this month LSI will announce availability Nytro MegaRAID Application Acceleration Cards, which provide simple and cost-effective acceleration of SAS-connected DAS storage. That's flash cache on a RAID card.

Peering deep into gaseous clouds, astronomers found the Nutanix compute-and-storage scale-out cluster star was accelerating its formation, having received a huge infusion of hot gases, $33m, taking total funding to $71m. It's going to expand sales and marketing, double up its research and development efforts, and also boost support. Nutanix has shipped 150 systems, has 100 employees to date, and uses both disks and Fusion-io flash in its boxes.

In the ZFS galaxy Nexenta announced an all-flash SkySAN system from Raidundant achieved 1 million IOPS doing random reads. The box is 3U high, interfaces to servers across 40Gbit/s Ethernet and uses STEC ZeusIOPS SSDs. It should ship in the autumn.

Astronomers also discovered things about disc world:

  • EMC's VNXe3150, its unified baby storage box announced in May, is now shipping.
  • Coraid, the Ethernet storage startup with its simpler-than-iSCSI ATA-over-Ethernet protocol, has an EtherCloud product, using its acquired Yunteq technology. The Yunteq software shreds storage into pieces - sorry - deploys, provisions and manages storage on demand for cloud customers. There is a REST interface and policy-based automation with single click provisioning of storage for customers in minutes. EtherCLoud will be available this quarter.
  • Coraid has introduced EtherFlash Cache. It is located in the EtherDrive SRX array and uses SSDs to accelerate read data access. It has a real-time caching algorithm, settable priorities per storage volume, and is available this autumn too.

Back on Planet Earth:

  • Dell replaces Enterprise Solutions business unit president Brad Anderson with a casualty of Leo Apotheker's mad reign at HP: Marius Haas, who had been keeping busy at a private equity firm, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. We don't know what Anderson is going to do next but we do know Dell needs a steroid injection to get its business growing again.

    Haas is now "responsible for worldwide engineering, design, development and marketing of Dell enterprise products, including servers, networking and storage systems". That means storage business boss Darren Thomas reports to him, and will be filling him on on the shrinking state of that business. Bet he's looking forward to that session.

  • Buffalo has announced its first unified file and block storage products, the TeraStation 5600 and 5800 products, 6- and 8-bay enclosures with Intel Atom dual-core processors. They are aimed at small and medium businesses and offer scheduled backup, failover and replication capabilities and the also fully support Amazon S3 cloud storage and WebAccess for transferring data to online backup or cloud-based storage. The company also announced its Buffalo Surveillance Server, which enables video recording from up to ten network-connected cameras to be streamed directly to a TeraStation device.
  • DotHill has two new arrays, moving distinctly up-market. The AssuredSAN4000 is a mid-range array delivering up to 5,200MB/sec, we're told, of sustained sequential read bandwidth, 2.5 times faster than the low-end AssuredSAN 3000 product, and up to 3GB/sec of sustained sequential write bandwidth with 100,000 sustained IOPS. DotHill suggests this streaming performance makes it a good fit for HPC, telecommunications, and media and entertainment customers. They can buy a 24TB 4000 for less than $30,000 and the product should ship by the end of September

    The enterprise-class hybrid AssuredSAN Pro 5000 has real-time tiering with data movements taking place every 5 seconds, across three tiers: SSD, fast SAS and nearline SAS disks. CEO and founder Dana Kammersgard says EMC FAST, Dell Compellent Fluid Data and IBM FASTier are not autonomic tiering but 24-hour batch migrations, with their schemes responding to history and not being real-time. Its RealStor software stack includes thin provisioning, a simple-to-use GUI, fast RAID rebuild, and can have LUNs pinned in the SSD tier. The 5000 product should ship in October with pricing starting from $63,200.

  • Quest Software announced vRanger 6, adding the ability for this niche, VMware-only backup product to grow out of its niche-dom into a full-blown backup product, to backup physical machines (Windows servers) as well.
  • Tape got another kicking as the Fox Networks Group said it would move digital media asset storage from tape to Nirvanix's Cloud Storage Network. This is to accelerate digital content collaboration and complete projects faster

There we have it: flash is flashing faster and brighter, speeding servers with caching software, replacing storage arrays or boosting their performance with SSD tiering. Disk-based cloud archives are attacking the last bastion of tape. Low-end unified storage arrays are getting Atom-powered and delivering more storage functionality bangs-per-buck.

Just another day in storage and there will be more to come in the next day or so: think HDS, NexGen and Pure Storage. It just keeps on coming. ®

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