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Violin turns to Symantec for solid-state software stack

Flash arrays already have spinning disk drives beat for performance, but they will require data management software for flash to become the medium of choice for enterprise storage. With that in mind, startup Violin Memory is partnering with storage software veteran Symantec to bring a data management suite to its Flash Memory Array family.

Violin will bundle management software IP such as snapshots, cloning, deduplication, synchronous replication and thin provisioning from Symantec Storage Foundation into its Flash Memory Arrays. Customers can choose to license the software if they need it.

Narayan Venkat, vice president of products for Violin, said early all-flash array customers mainly run high-performing databases. Those database applications have built-in management features. But with flash adoption rapidly spreading to virtual machines, virtual desktop infrastructures, test/development and storage for private clouds, more storage management is needed.

“In virtualization environments, customers are saying ‘we would love to have capabilities like those that exist in legacy storage systems,’” Venkat said.

Other flash startups such as Nimbus DataPure Storage and Greenbytes have developed their own management software. But even with $186 million in funding, Violin management chose to OEM those features rather than start from the ground up to build software that EMC and NetApp have offered for years. So Violin turned to hardware-independent Symantec. Venkat said Violin engineers have worked with Symantec for close to a year to tailor IP from Storage Foundation to Flash Memory Arrays. He said the software was optimized to work with the speed of flash rather than spinning disk.

“Flash introduces a whole set of nuances — things like metadata management, handling garbage collection, hiding erase cycles while snapshots are taken,” Venkat said. “We worked on those to make data management run at the speed of memory.”

He said Violin plans to add Symantec’s asynchronous replication technology early next year.

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