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SanDisk FlashSoft bundled with caching software, SSDs

SanDisk upgrades FlashSoft server-side caching software to work better with VMware, Windows and Linux, and packages it on its Fusion ioMemory PCIe card and Ascend solid-state drives.

SanDisk today upgraded its FlashSoft server-based caching software for VMware, Microsoft Windows and Linux and...

added bundles with the vendor's PCIe, SAS and SATA solid state drives (SSDs).

SanDisk FlashSoft uses algorithms to identify frequently accessed data for caching on SSDs to improve performance. The software directs I/O for the hot data to host-based flash drives, eliminating the network hop to the storage array.

FlashSoft 3.7 for VMware vSphere, FlashSoft for Windows and FlashSoft for Linux are available in bundles with SanDisk's Fusion ioMemory PCIe accelerators, Optimus Ascend SAS SSDs and Optimus CloudSpeed SATA SSDs.

Customers can still purchase FlashSoft software only, and SanDisk maintains it will continue support for other vendors' SSD hardware.

FlashSoft originally supported only VMware, but SanDisk has broadened its capabilities since acquiring FlashSoft in 2012.

SanDisk FlashSoft 3.7 for Windows supports Clustered Shared Volumes to provide write-through caching for Hyper-V hosts sharing storage volumes. Application performance is boosted with high availability via Microsoft Failover Clustering, and native support was added for hard disk drives and SSDs formatted with 4K or 512-byte sectors.

"Before most SSDs were 512 bytes but we had to optimize the software to take advantage of the 4K sector size," said Rich Petersen, SanDisk's director of marketing. "Also, we did support Microsoft Hyper-V in single deployments and now we support it in clusters. When you run virtualization, you deploy servers in clusters so the cache must support clusters."

Windows upgrades also include support for PowerShell cmdlts for all configuration and monitoring operations. The software supports write-back caching for write-intensive applications, and write-through caching that writes data into cache and main memory for redundancy. It also supports up to four caches per host and a maximum of 16 TB per cache.

FlashSoft upgrades for Linux includes support for Red Hat and SUSE kernels and support for RHEV/KVM in a single node. FlashSoft for Linux also supports write-back and write-through caching, with up to four caches per host and a maximum of 16 TB per cache.

"Down the road we are looking to support cluster modes," Petersen said. "Cluster Linux failover can involve different clusters from different third parties. That is what makes it difficult to go beyond a single node. Support for Windows is more straightforward."

FlashSoft 3.7 is integrated with VMware ESXi 6 through new vSphere APIs for IO Filtering (VAIO). It also supports accelerating VMs on ESX boot device and a single cache device per host to 16 TB.

Petersen said SanDisk is working with VMware to support vSphere 6, which will use a different set of APIs to intercept the IOs between virtual machines and virtual drives. The APIs currently are in technology preview, which means they are functionally complete but they are going through bug fixes.

"The world of caching for VMware is going to change completely [with vSphere 6]," Petersen said. "In the future we will deliver a completely new product that uses these APIs.

Bundle prices begin at around $9,000 for the software with a 1.3 TB Fusion ioMemory drive, around $6,000 with an 800 GB Optimus Ascend SAS drive and around $4,000 with a 960 GB Optimus CloudSpeed Ascend SATA drive.

Next Steps

Virtual flash caching leads to improved SSD performance

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