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Fusion-io bundles ioControl hybrid array with server flash

Fusion-io launches products from its NexGen Storage acquisition. Its SPX bundle combines an ioControl hybrid appliance with server flash.

Fusion-io extended the hybrid flash storage array platform it gained by acquiring NexGen Storage in April, adding a bundle that brings server caching to the array.

The Server Performance Extension (SPX) bundles provide flash from host to storage for ioControl iSCSI arrays. Fusion-io also released ioControl 3.0, an updated version of the software that enables storage quality of service (QoS) on the arrays.

In April 2013, Fusion-io acquired NexGen for $119 million, giving the PCIe flash pioneer its first storage array platform.

NexGen has used Fusion-io PCIe flash, along with hard disk drives, in its arrays since its launch. Fusion-io rebranded the arrays as the ioControl hybrid storage platform after the acquisition.

"What we've been doing is taking that value that we've seen on the server side, and we're investing in software to optimize I/O memory across different use cases up and down the IT stack," said Chris McCall, senior director of ioControl at Salt Lake City-based Fusion-io.

The ioControl SPX bundle combines server-side and shared-storage flash. It comes in two-server and three-server configurations.

The two-server SPX package is for application clusters and includes two Fusion-io 750 GB server-side ioCache PCIe cards with ioTurbine flash caching software, ioSphere data center management software, and an ioControl storage appliance for a total of 3.9 TB of flash and up to 48 TB of raw capacity.

The three-server SPX bundle for VMware clusters includes three Fusion-io PCIe cards and software licenses, as well as one ioControl hybrid array. It contains a total of 4.7 TB of flash and up to 48 TB of raw capacity. The three-host SPX bundle supports VMware's three server best practices.

"If you deploy flash locally for reads and a shared solution for writes, that's going to give you the most consolidation and the most performance," McCall said. "So why not package that up into a single solution that's easily digestible by customers."

The two-server bundle has a list price of $139,350 and the three-server bundle starts at $158,900.

The two key pieces of NexGen storage were its PCIe flash and QoS software, which prioritizes flash resources according to service class. The ioControl 3.0 software upgrade includes intelligent caching to better manage priority data, the ability to modify blocks used for snapshots, replication and clones on flash, and policy-based data migration.

The software supports three service levels -- mission-critical, business-critical and non-critical data. Data residing in mission-critical volumes will be moved directly into flash when requested from disk. Business-critical data will also be moved from disk to flash, but not as quickly as mission-critical data. Non-critical data will not be moved to flash when requested from disk.

David Floyer, co-founder and chief technical officer of Wikibon, called the new technology "a very good first step" that may be more than that. "For many people, that's going to be more than good enough," he said.

Floyer said he would like to see Fusion-io add a policy to cap the amount of IOPS a single volume can take to stop them from limiting other volumes. He added that the new products will help Fusion-io with small- to medium-sized companies that have not embraced their PCIe flash cards.

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