Violin Systems Announces Violin XVS 8

Violin Systems recently announced their new XVS 8 platform. I had the opportunity to speak to Gary Lyng (Chief Marketing Officer) and thought I’d share some thoughts here.

 

Background

A few things have changed for Violin since they folded as Violin Memory and were acquired by Soros in 2017. Firstly, they’re now 100% channel focused. And secondly, according to Lyng, they’re “all about microseconds”.

What Really Matters?

Violin are focused on extreme performance, specifically:

  • Low latency;
  • Consistent performance (24x7x365); and
  • Enterprise data services.

The key use cases they’re addressing are:

  • Tier 0;
  • Realtime insight;
  • OLTP, DB, VDI;
  • AI / ML;
  • Commercial IoT; and
  • Trading, supply chain.

 

The Announcement

The crux of the announcement is the Violin XVS 8.

[image courtesy of Violin Systems]

Specifications

Performance Latency as low 50µs to 800µs

Dedupe LUN performance improved by >40%

Capacity Usable –  44.3TB – 88.7TB

Effective –  256TB – 512TB

 

Enterprise Data Services
Efficiency Dedupe + compression reduction Ratio 6:1

Low impact Snapshots, Thin Provisioning, Thin and Thick Clones

Continuity

Protection

Scalability

Synchronous Replication (Local/Metro) | Asynchronous Replication |Stretch clusters (0 RPO & RTO – 7700) |NDU

Snapshots (crash consistent) |Consistency Groups (snaps & replication)

Transparent LUN mirroring

Online LUN expansion

Capacity pooling across shelves

Single Name Space

Hosts  8x 32Gb FC (NVMe Ready) or 8×10 GbE iSCSI

Feature Summary

Performance & Experience Advances

  • Consistent-Performance Guarantee
  • Cloud-based predictive analytics providing insight into future performance needs
  • NVMe over FC

Flexibility & Efficiency

  • Single Platform with selectable dedupe per LUN / Application
  • Snap-Dedupe

Application Infrastructure Ecosystems

Other Neat Features

32Gbps FC connectivity

Concerto OS updates (expected early Q1 2019)

  • Simple software upgrade to existing systems
  • Lowered IO Latency, Higher Bandwidth
  • Lower CPU usage and enable cost savings through compute and software consolidation
  • Optimised for transporting data from solid state storage to numerous processors

Everyone Has An App Now

All the cool storage vendors have an app. You can walk into your DC and (assuming you have the right credentials) scan a code on the front of the box. This will get you access to cloud-based analytics to see just how your system is performing.

[image courtesy of Violin Systems]

 

Thoughts

Violin Memory were quite the pioneers in the all-flash storage market many years ago. The pundits lamented the issues that Violin had with keeping pace with some of the smaller start-ups and big box sellers in recent times. The decision to focus on the “extreme performance” space is an interesting one. Violin certainly have some decent pedigree when it comes to the enterprise data services that these types of high-end customers would be looking for. And it’s not just about speed, it’s also about resilience and reliability. I asked about the decision to pursue NVMe over FC, and Lyng said that the feeling was that technologies such as RocE weren’t quite there yet.

I’m curious to see whether Violin can continue to have an impact on the market. This isn’t their first rodeo, and if the box can deliver the numbers that have been touted, it will make for a reasonably compelling offering. Particularly in the financial services / transactional space where time is money.

Violin Memory Announces Additions To FSP Range

I got a chance to speak to Violin Memory at Storage Field Day 8 and was impressed by the company’s “new” approach to all-flash arrays. They recently announced the addition of the FSP 7600 and the FSP 7250 to the Flash Storage Platform. I’ve been told these will be GA in December 2015. Please note that I’ve not used either of these products in the wild, and recommend that you test them in your own environment prior to making any purchasing decisions.

Violin positions FSP as a competitive differentiator with Concerto OS 7 offering the following features:

  • Comprehensive Data Protection Services (including Syncronous, Asynchronous and CDP);
  • Stretch Cluster for Zero Down time and zero data loss;
  • granular deduplication and compression;
  • sustained low latency with Flash Fabric Architecture;
  • simple and single pane of glass management; and
  • integrated data migration and ecosytem integration.

The FSP 7250 is being positioned as an entry-level, sub-$100K US AFA that is:

  • Data Reduction Optimized (Always on Dedupe);
  • Integrated 3U Platform;
  • 8-26TB Raw; and
  • Up to 92TB Effective capacity.

The FSP 7600 sits just below the FSP 7700, and offers:

  • “Extreme” Performance
  • An integrated 3U Platform
  • 35-140TB Raw
  • 1.1 M IOPS < 500 μsecs

Unfortunately I don’t currently have links to useful things like data sheets, but you can read a nice summary article at El Reg here, and a link to the Violin Memory press release can be found here.

Violin Memory – Sounds a lot better than it used to

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 8.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

For each of the presentations I attended at SFD8, there are a few things I want to include in the post. Firstly, you can see video footage of the Violin Memory presentation here. You can also download my raw notes from the presentation here. Finally, here’s a link to the Violin Memory website that covers some of what they presented.

 

Violin-Memory-Logo-Full-Color-on-White-Backround-PMS431-PMS369

Violin Memory (NYSE: VMEM) have been around for about 10 years. I’ve never had any real stick time with the kit, but I work in a small part of the world, so I know a few people who’ve been customers or who’ve worked for the company. There was a time when Violin Memory were the toast of the town. While the scuttlebutt in recent years had them tanking spectacularly, they’re still of the opinion that they’re very much in the game, and have spent the last 2 years on a significant overhaul of their core architecture and the way they go about getting things done in what is a pretty competitive flash storage market.

 

Violin Flash Fabric

Violin_FFA-Architecture-Graphic

James Bowen spent some time during the presentation taking us through some of the key design elements of the hardware platform and I thought they bear repeating here. One of the key components of the highly available system design is the “Violin Flash Fabric”, which has

  • Multiple paths between each Violin Intelligent Memory Module (VIMM) and vRAID Control Module (VCM); and
  • The VIMM Tree dynamically reconfigures to handle component failures and / or upgrades.

The Flash Fabric Architecture uses the following protection methods:

  • Multipath VIMM Fabric;
  • VCM Failure Protection; and
  • VIMM Failure protection.

What’s cool about this architecture is that the Fabric can handle the failure of up to 3 VCMs and 4 VIMMs, and with Violin’s vRAID in the mix it can tolerate up to 16 VIMM failures without data loss. In addition to that, Violin have really focussed on performance in the system and are claiming some pretty high numbers, some of which, admittedly, reside in the “4K Vanity Zone“.

 

Closing Thoughts and Further Reading

The full white paper on Flash Fabric Architecture is here. I urge you to read it, as I’ve done a bit of a ham-fisted job covering it in this post. It’s also worth checking out this page on the VIMM, which does a good job of explaining some of the benefits of that particular architecture. Also, check out Mark’s post on Violin here – it provides a nice, balanced view of things.

If you watch the presentation that Violin Memory gave at SFD8, the overwhelming theme was that they’ve got a fair bit of experience in flash architecture, they know how to get decent performance from their hardware, and they’ve learnt a few lessons along the way. In my opinion, Violin have taken a number of steps in recent times to set themselves on the path to success again, and I’m looking forward to seeing them continue on that path in the future.