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WDC's SanDisk flashes its vSphere speed-up creds to world+dog

Fusion-IO PCIe gear rides again with VAIO compatibility

Western Digital Corporation’s SanDisk unit has VAIO-compliant flash caching software and hardware for vSphere servers.

This announcement represents WDC inheriting a two year SanDisk-VMware partnership to make use of SanDisk’s acquired FusionIO PCIe flash hardware and software. There are two products:

  • FlashSoft 4 software for VMware vSphere 6
  • Flash Virtualization System, a flash-based hardware and software product incorporating FlashSoft v4

FlashSoft is caching software taking advantage of a server’s flash drive. Its version 4 leverages a Western Digital and VMware VAIO co-design partnership for vSphere 6.

FlashSoft v4 is the result, we’re told, of a two year co-operative design project by Western Digital and VMware, with FlashSoft 4 software using VMware vSphere’s APIs for IO Filtering (VAIO), providing, WDC SanDisk claims, “the highest level of usability and performance with vSphere 6.”

Ravi Swaminathan, Data Center Solutions Business Unit VP and GM at Western Digital Corporation, went into hype mode in his canned quote, saying: “These new product innovations resulted from the deep ongoing engagement between our companies and are expected to greatly enhance virtual machine performance. We look forward to expanding possibilities of the new architecture to continue delivering high-value solutions for our customers.”

“New innovations”? Umm, we didn’t know there were any other kind of innovations.

PrimaryIO brought the first VAIO-integrated caching software to the market in February this year. It provided virtual machines (VMs) with caching and replication by filtering the stream of IOs from a VM. However, WDC says FlashSoft v4 is the first host-based caching software to achieve VMware Ready certification for guaranteed compatibility, reliability and support.

FlashSoft v4 also introduces support for VMware-supported data stores, virtual disk acceleration, improved performance and stability, and integrated management through the vSphere web client GUI.

The Flash Virtualization System pairs FlashSoft v4 with SanDisk ION Accelerator software and Fusion ioMemory PCIe solid-state accelerators in a flash-provisioned server (Basically a re-jigged FusionIO ION Accelerator appliance) capable of delivering over a million IOPS* to accelerate storage I/O across the VMware environment.

This product is said to be non-disruptive to deploy, and offers cluster-wide flash acceleration in existing VMware environments. It’s claimed to be cost-effective and “enables customers to get more performance and efficiency from existing storage and compute infrastructure, resulting in significant hardware and software savings.”

Dell is on board with WDC/SanDisk. Ravi Pendekanti, Server Platform Development VP at Dell has a canned quote in the press release as well: “The FlashSoft 4 software for vSphere 6 using the VAIO API is in-line with Dell’s vision for the software-defined data centre. … We are excited to see VMware’s support for host-based caching through the VAIO program, and VMware Ready certification will give customers the confidence to broadly adopt and deploy this innovative solution.”

Pricing and availability

FlashSoft 4 is available now as a bundle consisting of FlashSoft software and SanDisk SAS, SATA, or Fusion ioMemory PCIe solid-state devices, with MSRP starting at $3,600 to $5,900 depending on the device.

The software is offered through Western Digital, OEMs and reseller partners, including Dell, HPE, Lenovo and HDS, as well as select channel partners.

The Flash Virtualization System is also available with MSRP starting at $75,000 (12.8TB, 8-node cluster configuration). ®

* Back in Feb 2014 Fusion-io’s ION Accelerator provided 1.7 million random IOPS.


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