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Fusion-io (Brand F) ready to rumble with EMC

Whenever EMC rolls out PCIe flash products, it paints a bull’s eye on Fusion-io.

Just as they did last year when they brought out VFCache, EMC spokesmen compared benchmarks against Fusion-io today during a webcast hyping their XtremSF flash products. EMC marketing materials used in the webcast show its cards beating “Brand F” in a series of IOPS and latency results.

And as he did in response last year, Fusion-io CEO David Flynn said all the attention around XtremSF is good for his company. He pointed out that EMC is reselling PCIe cards that Fusion-io already competes with, and competes well enough to stand as the server-based flash market leader

“We are quite flattered by EMC and its introduction of more products across the market we have created,” Flynn said. “EMC is making a renewed push to try and be relevant in server-side flash. They’ve incorporated three vendors – Micron, Virident and LSI – none of which have been competent at competing with Fusion-io. Now they’re trying to highlight those vendors’ competitive stance relative to us.”

Flynn said EMC is “cherry picking” its IOPS and latency numbers, mixing results from different partners that make them look good against Fusion-io instead of making apples-to-apples comparisons. He also said EMC’s benchmarks are more fitting for storage than for application server performance.

EMC isn’t the only vendor encroaching on Fusion-io’s turf. Most of the solid-state drive (SSD) vendors have added server-side flash, and flash array vendor Violin Memory launched its first PCIe flash cards this week. Flynn said Fusion-io’s early entrance into the market gives it an advantage not only in technology but in distribution partnerships.

“It’s one thing to have a component, it’s something else to have access to a market,” he said. “We have a sales team, but we also have partnered with the server vendors. All the server vendors and [storage vendor] NetApp have aligned themselves with Fusion-io. The only systems companies not aligned with Fusion-io are EMC and Oracle. Only EMC is an enemy, and we have them to thank for others aligning themselves with us. It’s a case of ‘My enemy’s enemy is my friend.’”

Fusion-io is making some impressive IOPS claims of its own. He said the vendor will demonstrate one of its 365 GB ioDrive2 hitting 9.6 million IOPS March 26 during a Technology Open House at its Salt Lake City, Utah, headquarters. He said that performance is enabled by Fusion-io APIs that integrate flash into host systems as well as the vendor’s Auto-Commit Memory software. The APIs allow flash to bypass operating system bottlenecks, Auto-Commit Memory is designed to maintain flash persistence in nanoseconds running on Fusion-io’s directFS, eliminating duplicate work between the host file system and flash memory software.

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