Flash storage specialist Fusion-io is launching its ioControl hybrid storage arrays in Europe as it expands the portfolio, offering ioControl arrays with server-side flash cards to optimise storage performance from both ends of the network.
Fusion-io's ioControl hybrid storage platform is based on technology it gained from the acquisition of NexGen earlier this year. The iSCSI arrays combine hard drives with Fusion-io's PCI Express (PCIe) flash cards to deliver the performance of flash with the storage capacity of rotating disks.
Today's announcement is the first update to the product line since the NexGen acquisition, and also marks official availability of the ioControl arrays in Europe for the first time, according to Chris McCall, senior director of ioControl marketing at Fusion-io.
"Our ioControl products are the only hybrid storage arrays that leverage PCIe flash, which means better performance and the flash doesn't take up available drive bays that can be used to add more disk," McCall claimed.
Three models are available: the n5-50 starts at 16TB disk capacity and 730GB to 1,460GB flash; the n5-100 starts at 32TB capacity and 1,570GB to 3,140GB flash, and the top-end n5-150 has 48TB disk capacity and 2,400GB to 4,800GB flash.
An updated version of the ioControl software that drives the arrays now supports priority-driven read caching, McCall said, to make more effective use of flash for caching. This enables administrators to specify how critical a specific volume or logical unit number (LUN) is when they create it, so the array knows which to prioritise.
"If the LUN is used by a mission-critical application, the array moves that data into flash. For data associated with a less critical application, that can be left on the disk. It's about having the right data on the right tier at the right time," he said.
The same also applies to snapshots and replicas, with the ioControl software now able to recognise these and ensure they are stored on disk instead of taking up valuable flash capacity.
Fusion-io has also updated its management user interface in order to help admins deal with larger-scale storage deployments, McCall noted.
"VMware has some changes coming next year that will proliferate the number of volumes on a storage system," he warned.
To address this, the new user interface is policy based, allowing admins to apply policies covering things such as quality of service across multiple volumes rather than setting these one volume at a time. It also introduces a search tool to quickly find volumes, snapshots and system events, "moving to a model like Google rather than like Windows Explorer", McCall explained.
However, Fusion-io's chief product line is server-side flash, and the ioControl Server Performance Extension (SPX) brings the firm full circle by combining the ioControl arrays with server flash cards and software to optimise the way the two work together.
The idea of SPX is that a server equipped with ioTurbine software and ioScale flash cards will end up serving most reads from the on-board flash, boosting performance and cutting the volume of traffic across the network.
Writes, however, get passed through to ioControl, which caches these in its flash before writing them back to the disk-based primary storage banks later, thus boosting write-back performance.
SPX will be available in two versions, one targeting a two-server configuration aimed at application clusters and another aimed at three-server VMware host clusters.
"We have been seeing a threefold improvement in performance over standard hybrid arrays with ioControl, and if we extend performance to the server adding a cache in SPX, we see that increase again to about five times over other hybrids," McCall claimed.
Most of these new products are available immediately, with some of the new features in the ioControl software due later in the fourth quarter, according to the firm.
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