SolidFire claims to have cracked a problem that so many have tried and failed to solve before. It has produced a reference architecture that it hopes will make large-scale corporate VDI rollouts practicable.
SolidFire produces a highly scalable, multi-tenant, clusterable all-flash storage array with compression and in-line deduplication. Previously, it was mostly marketed to cloud service providers.
But the company is increasingly selling to enterprises, using channel businesses as well as selling direct – though it has put into place deal registration to prevent conflict. Its schtick is that it now sells storage for "next-generation data centres".
It has now produced a reference architecture for VMware Horizon View v5.2 – it's a basic proof-of-concept design for a VMware Horizon View environment using SolidFire as the storage system. SolidFire says its testing has demonstrated “significant virtual desktop density of 1,000 desktops/U, lowest cost per desktop ($50 for storage/desktop) without sacrificing performance (50 IOPS/desktop), and an industry leading operational experience (View Planner score of 0.52).”
Oh, and it can boot 500 desktops in less than six minutes.
The company isn’t saying it’s producing the world’s best VDI storage system, necessarily. It’s saying its producing a great VDI system that can scale to high levels and work very well indeed with other applications using its arrays because of its guaranteed quality of service levels that prevent so-called “noisy neighbour” applications hogging array resources to the detriment of other applications.
SO VDI can be loaded on the array with a specific service level and will get it and, also, it won’t become a “noisy neighbour” to the other applications on the array.
SolidFire has also released a vCenter Web Client plug-in for vSphere 5.1 giving sysadmins the ability “to manage multiple SolidFire clusters through the vSphere 5.1 web client, as well as manage volumes, access groups and account.” Common storage operations can be done “from within the vSphere web client,” avoiding separate storage management work.
How does SolidFire compare to Pure Storage and other all-flash array startups? It would say it commands the high ground in terms of storage workload scalability and cost-efficiency. We can take an indirect hint from average system prices (ASPs). SolidFire ASPs are at the $200,000 level and above with Pure Storage in the $150,000-ish area; that’s small and medium enterprise business in SolidFire’s view.
How SolidFire will relate to EMC’s coming XtremIO and NetApp’s expected FlashRay products remains to be seen. We suspect it may retain its high-end positioning.
Get a copy of a VDI reference architecture brochure/doc here (20-page PDF). ®