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Fusion-io looks to steal EMC's Thunder with ION

Fusion-io this week revealed plans to launch ION Data Accelerator software later this year, giving the vendor the ability to turn a server with a Fusion-io ioMemory flash card into a shared storage appliance.

Fusion-io calls this technology software-defined storage, a play on the software-defined networking (SDN) term being commonly used these days. The software turns Fusion-io’s PCIe-based flash cards into competition for EMC’s yet-released “Project Thunder” flash-based shared storage appliance. Project Thunder builds on EMC’s VFCache, which places PCIe cards in a single server and competes with Fusion-io’s current products. ION’s ability to turn servers with flash into networked storage systems also makes Fusion-io more competitive with all-flash storage arrays.

According to Fusion-io, ION lets customers move entire mission-critical databases to shared ioMemory for better and more reliable performance.

We won’t know for sure how the software performs until its general availability release in October, but Fusion-io is promising impressive numbers: more than one million IOPS with up to 6 GBps throughput and 56 microsecond latency from one 1U server.

ION also allows administrators to create RAID sets and LUNs and monitor performance. It handles high availability by synchronously replicating data between ION systems and has a Power Cut Safety feature that protects data in a power failure without requiring UPS systems or battery backups.

The ION software supports Fusion-io’s ioMemory flash technology in its ioDrive, ioDrive Duo, ioDrive2 Duo and ioDrive Octal flash cards. ION works with Fusion-io’s ioTurbine and directCache caching software and can be managed through the vendor’s ioSphere GUI or command line interface. ION supports 8 Gbps Fibre Channel, quad data rate (QDR) InfiniBand, and 10-Gigabit Ethernet iSCSI block storage protocols.

Out of the gate, ION software will be available bundled with Hewlett-Packard ProLiant DL370G6 and SuperMicro 1026GT-TRF servers with ioDrive 2 Duo multi-level cell (MLC) flash cards. Fusion-io said the software has been tested with other HP ProLiant servers as well as Dell PowerEdge and Cisco UCS servers.

Fusion-io said it has more than 12 early access customers for the ION software, which will have a suggested retail price of $3,900.

Fusion-io also this week said it is working with NetApp on ways to use its flash technology and caching software with NetApp’s Flash Cache and Flash Pool flash tiers.

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