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Week in review podcast: Tegile launches hybrid SSD arrays, Starboard offers new storage system

Join Executive Editor Ellen O’Brien and Senior News Director Dave Raffo as they give you the inside scoop during our weekly podcast from TechTarget’s Storage Media Group.

New unified storage products grabbed headlines this past week, with offerings from Tegile Systems and Starboard Storage. Join executive editor Ellen O’Brien and senior news director Dave Raffo as they dig beyond marketing-speak and give you the inside scoop during our weekly podcast from TechTarget’s Storage Media Group.

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Week in review podcast: Tegile launches hybrid SSD arrays, Starboard offers new storage system

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Tegile, Starboard go for unified storage 

This week, Tegile Systems released its Zebi lineup of unified storage hybrid SSD arrays that use DRAM, two types of flash, and hard drives.

Tegile characterizes the Zebi architecture as a Metadata Accelerated Storage System (MASS). Rob Commins, Tegile’s vice president of marketing, said the systems organize and store metadata independently of the data on SSDs for faster retrieval. Commins said Zebi systems use single-level cell (SLC) and multi-level cell (MLC) flash. SLC, which performs better and lasts longer than MLC, is used to process metadata with high usage patterns.

Zebi systems support Fibre Channel, iSCSI, NFS and CIFS protocols. Zebi’s hybrid architecture utilizes DRAM and flash in the data path for high-speed cache. DRAM serves as first level read cache with flash SSDs used as a secondary cache for non-volatile reads and writes. The systems also store all data on 2 TB nearline SAS hard drives.

Tegile’s Zebi arrays also perform data deduplication and compression on primary data. Tegile targets the systems at highly virtualized environments, citing storage for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) as a prime use case.

“We spent a lot of time working on our deduplication algorithms,” he said. “We handle all the math in the background while maintaining performance integrity.  Our big secret sauce is we’ve figured out how to dedupe on a hybrid array.”

And Starboard Storage Systems came out with its own unified storage system that is designed to dynamically pool capacity and deliver mixed workloads of unstructured, structured and virtualized data to appropriate storage tiers.

The company’s new product -- the Starboard AC72 Storage System -- is driven by what it calls a Mixed-workload, Application-Crafted Storage Tiering (MAST) architecture. Its operating system will dynamically pool capacity from tiers that include multi-level cell (MLC) solid-state storage, and SAS and near-line SAS hard disk drives.

Each system has a solid-state drive (SSD) accelerator tier and built-in I/O detection technology, so a virtualized database workload with random I/O will be automatically stored on the SSD tier, while a workload with unstructured files with sequential reads and writes will be stored on less expensive near-line SAS drives.

“The system does the auto-tiering in real-time without the use of a manual policy,” said Karl Chen, Starboard’s chief marketing officer.

NetApp: server-side flash software is a go

And following the release of EMC Corp.’s VFCache PCIe flash product earlier this month, NetApp CEO Tom Georgens said this week that he expects server-side flash to become a key part of his vendor’s flash strategy.

But the NetApp CEO said his company will take a different approach to PCIe cards than its rival.

 “I don’t think the opportunity is simply selling cards into the host, although we may do that,” he said. “But our real goal is we’re going to bring the data that’s stored in flash on the host into our data management methodology for backup, replication, deduplication and all of those things. It isn’t as simple as we’re going to make a PCI flash card. Our focus this year is the software component and bringing that into our broader data management capability.”

Asked about EMC’s VFCache product during NetApp’s earnings call Wednesday, Georgens said server-side flash is “a sure thing,” but NetApp will focus on data management software that works with PCIe cards instead of selling the cards. He doesn’t rule out selling cards either, though.

SanDisk eyes speed boost with FlashSoft acquisition

This week, SanDisk picked up startup FlashSoft in a move designed to make applications run faster with the company’s PCIe and solid-state drive (SSD) products.

FlashSoft software turns SSD and PCIe sever flash into a cache for frequently accessed data, and offers versions for Windows, Linux, VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V.

The acquisition of FlashSoft leaves several startups as obvious targets for solid-state vendors. Nevex and Texas Memory Systems recently said they were jointly developing software that would speed applications running on TMS SSD storage.

SanDisk said it will sell FlashSoft SE as standalone software and with the Lightning Enterprise SSDs and PCIe-based devices 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.

Iomega bumps up SMB options with server lineup

And also this week, Iomega Corp., began shipping its StorCenter PX Server Class Series of SMB NAS devices.

The NAS devices support 3 TB SATA drives, solid-state drives (SSDs), as well as include software enhancements for management and data protection that the company says is better suited for business use than its SOHO and prosumer systems.

Iomega, which EMC Corp. purchased in 2008, first launched its PX NAS line last May. But the server class line includes a new version of EMC LifeLine software with power management and data protection features.

Podcast: Whitehouse on tape backup 

And be sure to check out our podcast interview with storage analyst Lauren Whitehouse on tape backup and archiving. Whitehouse an industry analyst with 20 years of experience who covers backup and replication, data protection software and other topics, recently spoke with assistant editor John Hilliard to discuss best practices in tape vaulting and the latest developments in tape storage.

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