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Violin goes native with Microsoft on all-flash arrays

Violin tunes its all-flash arrays to work with Microsoft Windows Servers 2012 R2 and reduce latency when running apps such as SQL Server and Exchange.

Violin Memory Inc. this week launched a scale-out memory array platform that allows Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 to run natively on Violin's all-flash storage systems.

Violin claims the native support in-memory will increase performance for customers running Microsoft Hyper-V, SQL Server, SharePoint, Exchange, and the Server Message Block 3.0 NAS Protocol.

Customers can use System Center 2012 R2 to manage any Violin arrays installed in their environments with full data management capabilities -- including snapshots, clones, data reduction techniques and thin provisioning -- without the Violin Memory user interface.

Narayan Venkat, Violin's vice president for product management, said both vendors altered their products to work better together. He said Violin optimized its platform to work with the Hyper-V hypervisor that is part of Windows Server 2012 R2. Violin changed the underlying infrastructure to allow scale-out architecture to support back-end 40 Gigabit Ethernet and InfiniBand connections, as well as subsecond failover for virtual machine migration and cloning between arrays.

Microsoft changed its Server 2012 R2 kernel to achieve the low latency and performance requirements necessary to run on an all-flash array.

The Microsoft support, along with Violin's scale-out storage architecture, allows the flash vendor to go after more service provider and enterprise accounts, Venkat said. Violin's 6000 series flash arrays scale to 64 TB of memory capacity.

"Should your capacity needs grow beyond a single memory array, we can string up to eight of these together transparently and target larger-scale private cloud deployments," he said.

Violin has Microsoft-supported arrays in early release with select customers. Venkat said most of the interest comes from customers considering Hyper-V as an alternative to the VMware vSphere hypervisor, service providers looking for scale-out solutions, and private-cloud deployments.

General availability is expected in January 2014. No pricing details were released, but Venkat said pricing will be similar to that of Violin's standard 6000 arrays.

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