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Virident pumps up caching, sharing software for PCIe flash cards

Virident's FlashMAX Connect PCIe flash storage software suite enables synchronous mirroring, flash resource sharing and back-end caching.

Startup Virident Systems Inc. today launched a software suite to provide high availability, pooling of storage across servers and caching for its PCI Express (PCIe) flash cards.

The FlashMax Connect software suite includes three modules: vHA, vShare and vCache. The product's vHA (high availability) module allows server-side flash synchronous mirroring between two servers. Its vShare module enables remote access to partitioned PCIe flash resources to scale performance and capacity. As for vCache, the module allows the creation of transparent block cache on back-end direct-attached storage (DAS) devices and storage area networks (SANs) for write-back, write-through and write-around caching.

The FlashMAX Connect software suite version 1.0 is in beta, and scheduled for general release in April.  It provides high availability across two servers, remote access to networked flash resources and partitioning for setting separate jobs and policies on the same PCI Express (PCIe) card.

The first version of the software suite only supports Virident FlashMax PCIe cards, but Shridar Subramanian, Virident's vice president for marketing, said the company plans to add support for other vendors' devices so it can be sold as a standalone product. Virident does support third-party caching software for its cards.

"What we are looking to do with this software suite is enable the movement of performance storage over to the server side, close to the servers, and build out a performance tier," Subramanian said.

Jim Bagley, a senior analyst with Storage Strategies Now, said Virident's plans can take it beyond what other vendors are doing for connecting server-side flash devices.

"The [FlashMAX] Connect software puts them into a position where they can develop an entire virtualization layer that allows the sharing of server-based flash cards between multiple systems," he said. "It's entering a new class of PCIe-attached products that use fabric as the connection scheme."

Subramanian said the release of the FlashMAX Connect software is the first of four steps in the company's "FlashMAX Fabric innovation pipeline." Step two calls for a new product or product update that is expected to be released by the end of this year, and includes storage capacity pooling between two server flash PCIe resources and two-node, write-back caching availability.

Virident expects step three to add cluster-level caching and storage pooling near the beginning of 2014. According to Subramanian, step four would include cluster-level block storage with plus-1 availability at the end of 2014.

Virident also calls its software strategy "software-defined flash."

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