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HPE, Western Digital launch VMware VSAN-based flash node

Western Digital is bringing out flash storage products based on SanDisk technology. It partnered with HPE and VMware on a VSAN-based node, adding Flash Virtualization System.

Western Digital Corp. in May finalized its acquisition of flash memory chip vendor SanDisk Corp., creating a $20 billion flash storage behemoth. The first manifestations of that merger appeared this week in the form of two server-side storage platforms with SanDisk flash aimed at VMware users.

Along with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and VMware, Western Digital launched a hyper-converged flash node tuned for Microsoft SQL Server workloads. Western Digital also introduced Flash Virtualization System, which provides deep integration with VMware vSphere APIs for I/O (VAIO) for optimizing storage management on individual virtual machines (VMs).

Hyper-converged flash array to carry HPE branding

The HPE All-Flash Virtual SAN Solution for SQL Server 2016 combines a hyper-converged flash node consisting of HPE servers, SanDisk's line of Lightning SSDs and Mellanox 10-Gigabit Ethernet switches. The HPE-branded array ships with the standard database edition of SQL Server 2016 and VMware Virtual SAN 6.2 (VSAN) hyper-converged software, along with vSphere 6 and vCenter 6.

HPE is preparing a bundled product SKU as part of VMware's VSAN Ready Node program.

Each HPE VSAN flash node cluster is packaged as a minimum of four rack-optimized HPE ProLiant DL380 Gen9 servers outfitted with two tiers of Lightning flash drives. The basic building block has a base capacity of 7.2 TB. VSAN configures each ProLiant data store in two disk groups: four Lightning Eco 1.6 TB capacity SSDs and one 800 GB read-intensive Lightning Ascend 12 GBps SAS SSD as cache. Customers can scale HPE VSAN storage to 31 TB by adding higher-capacity SSDs.

A certified reference architecture was published in a solution brief. HPE is preparing a bundled product SKU as part of VMware's VSAN Ready Node program. The product is available directly from HPE or channel partners.

Western Digital said it certified the SanDisk flash drives, and HPE certified ProLiant servers and controllers. The validated reference architecture differs slightly from the bench tests the vendors performed on SQL Server 2016 performance workloads, said Patric Chang, a Western Digital senior director of strategic business development. Vendor testing involved four ProLiant boxes, each configured with two SanDisk Ascend SSDs as cache in front two Eco SSDs.

"We ran two instances of SQL Server 2016 on each of the nodes," Chang said. "Each SQL Server ran in a VM, and each VM was configured with 16 virtual CPU and 96 GB of RAM. We set up eight virtual disks across the four nodes. Each of those virtual disks [handled] 1 TB of data."

In that setup, Chang said SQL Server 2016 produced average transactions of 2.4 million new orders per minute. He said the HPE hyper-converged flash node also could be used to support Oracle, SAP HANA and NoSQL database workloads.

FlashSoft update merged with SanDisk ION Accelerator, PCIe cards

Western Digital also released FlashSoft 4.0 flash management software, which integrates the VMware VAIO framework to reduce fragmented I/O in virtualized storage. VAIO plug-ins directly access a VM's I/O path, caching data and applying data services before it is committed to physical storage.

FlashSoft is included as part of Western Digital’'s server-based Flash Virtualization System rollout. Flash Virtualization System turns a standard 64-bit x86 server into a tiered flash node consisting of SanDisk flash hardware and software. It pairs FlashSoft host-based caching with SanDisk ION Accelerator software and Fusion ioMemory PCIe flash accelerator cards.

A Flash Virtualization System building block consists of an eight-node cluster, with 12.8 TB of capacity. List price starts at $75,000. Customers can double Flash Virtualization System capacity to 25.6 TB by adding a second cluster.

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