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SanDisk acquires FlashSoft to accelerate flash performance

One by one, solid-state flash vendors are adding caching software to enhance their products. SanDisk picked up startup FlashSoft today in a move designed to make applications run faster with SanDisk’s and other vendors’ PCIe and solid-state drive (SSD) products.

Enterprise PCIe flash pioneer Fusion-io began the trend by acquiring IO Turbine last August, and OCZ picked up Sanrad for its PCIe caching software in January. Solid-state vendor STEC internally developed its EnhanceIO caching software, and EMC’s caching software and FAST auto-tiering appliance play a big role in its VFCache server-side flash product.

The acquisition of FlashSoft leaves startups Nevex, Velobit and perhaps a few other vendors still in stealth as obvious targets for solid-state vendors. Nevex and Texas Memory Systems last week said they were jointly developing software that would speed applications running on TMS SSD storage.

FlashSoft software turns SSD and PCIe sever flash into a cache for the most frequently accessed data. The company came out of stealth last June with FlashSoft SE for Windows and later added FlashSoft SE versions for Linux, VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V.

SanDisk said it will sell FlashSoft SE as standalone software and with the Lightning Enterprise SSDs and upcoming PCIe-based devices based on technology that it acquired by buying Pliant last May for $327 million. SanDisk’s SSDs are used by Dell EqualLogic, NetApp, Hewlett-Packard and others through OEM deals.

“We think this is the next step in our performance acceleration journey,” said Greg Goelz, VP of SanDisk’s enterprise storage solutions group.

Goelz said FlashSoft software was appealing because it can work with any hardware and that fits with SanDisk’s OEM model, and it scales better than competitors. “We looked at how did they scale in capacity? If you move from 100 gigabytes of SSDs to terabytes, does the metadata scale exponentially? Is the overhead low? Does it have the best approach to support what’s out there today and to support the evolution from single server to virtualization and clusters? FlashSoft was well ahead of anybody in the market by a substantial lead.”

SanDisk did not disclose the purchase price for FlashSoft.

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