Startup PernixData is bringing its technology to the UK for virtualising server-side flash memory, which aims to help customers make the most efficient and cost-effective use of flash for accelerating storage performance in the data centre.
PernixData emerged from stealth mode at the VMworld conference in San Francisco in August, and is looking to expand rapidly with a corporate presence in northern Europe and here in the UK.
The firm's Flash Virtualisation Platform (FVP) is an extension to the hypervisor in virtualised environments, and essentially does for flash what the hypervisor does for CPU and memory: virtualising all the flash storage inside a physical server and turning it into a pool that can be used as required.
According to Jeff Aaron, vice president of marketing for PernixData, the advantage of this is that the hypervisor can make the most effective use of the available flash storage to boost performance for a specific workload.
"We believe the best way to solve the storage bottleneck is with flash in the server rather than putting it in the storage area network (SAN)," he told V3.
The PernixData FVP decouples storage performance from the storage capacity of the SAN, enabling both to be optimised separately, according to Aaron.
Putting flash in the server means that customers do not need to change or upgrade their SAN storage arrays, and can also cut the volume of reads and writes traversing the SAN as data can be served direct from the local flash.
"Customers already using our platform to accelerate virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployments have seen reduction in virtual machine latency from milliseconds to microseconds," Aaron claimed.
However, in virtualising server-side flash, PernixData also provides more than just acceleration. It also offers greater fault tolerance by supporting clustering across multiple server hosts.
This enables it to support write caching as well as read caching, something that would otherwise run the risk of data loss if a failure were to occur before cached writes had been committed back out to the SAN.
"Other vendors typically do read caching only, but with clustering, we can do write caching and replicate the data to two other locations, so if there is a failure, the data simply gets replicated back from one of those," Aaron explained.
Currently, PernixData FVP is designed to integrate with VMware's hypervisor, but the firm is planning to add support for KVM and Microsoft's Hyper-V.
"VMware owns about 80 percent of the data centre virtualisation market, so it made sense to support that first, but we will be on KVM and Hyper-V in the near future, within 18 months," Aaron said.
PernixData FVP is available in two editions targeting enterprise and SME customers. The enterprise version is priced at $7,500 (£4,699) per physical server, while the SME version costs $9,999 (£6,265), but allows the customer to deploy on up to four server hosts with a limit of 100 virtual machines in total.
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