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PernixData FVP aims to cache RAM, as well as flash

PernixData extends the read of its Flash Virtualization Platform (FVP) software to work with a wider set of servers and storage.

PernixData Inc. this week expanded the capabilities of its Flash Virtualization Platform, adding the ability to accelerate RAM in its server-side caching software, as well as support file storage and metro clustering for synchronous replication.

The first version of PernixData Flash Virtualization Platform (FVP) was released in August 2013 and aggregated server-side flash to allow any server running the software to access flash on any other host in its cluster. The software installs inside VMware's hypervisor and supports VMware's vMotion, Distributed Resource Scheduler, High Availability and Snapshot capabilities.

With the upgrade, customers can add RAM, flash or a combination of the two into a PernixData FVP cluster. The software now supports file storage to go with block storage support in version 1.0. FVP can now work with NAS, Fibre Channel and iSCSI SANs, Fibre Channel over Ethernet and direct-attached storage.

The metro clustering geographically distributed storage support allows for fault tolerance. Customers can define the hosts they want in replica groups, enabling synchronous mirroring between those hosts in a metro cluster. FVP also protects information stored in server flash or RAM for acceleration while that data is being asynchronously replicated between storage devices. That allows customers to maintain recovery point objectives when accelerating storage.

"Our goal is to create ubiquitous software acceleration," said Jeff Aaron, PernixData's vice president of marketing. "We supported virtual machines [VMs] at the start, and now we support any server. We're adding support for RAM, and for RAM you need to be fault-tolerant. We're making the type of server irrelevant to the equation."

The new version of PernixData FVP supports up to 2 TB of RAM per host.

"We're in the hypervisor, so we want to be owner of the RAM," said PernixData founder and Chief Technology Officer Satyam Vaghani. "We're now managing RAM that VMs are using. We are using an insane amount of RAM."

Matt Theurer, senior vice president of cloud platform services at cloud computing provider Virtustream, said his company has run FVP in production since late 2013. Virtustream added a second group of servers running PernixData FVP in March when it moved one of its European cloud nodes to a new data center, Theurer said.

Theurer said he uses FVP to handle "bursty workloads and extend the useful life of our storage controllers by offloading workloads to the hosts." He said that allows him to scale flash linearly. "Storage controllers can only handle a certain amount of flash," he said, noting that Virtustream uses flash in its high-performance tier services.

Virtustream runs FVP on 18 nodes, mostly IBM and Cisco servers. Theurer said another feature he likes about FVP is that it does write and read caching. "Write caching is not so common on the host side," he said.

Virtustream has not yet upgraded to the new version of FVP, but Theurer said NFS support for files is on his wish list. He would also like to see PernixData add quality of service by providing I/O guarantees or limits.

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