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.



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]


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




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]



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.

Storage Field Day 8 – Wrap-up and Link-o-rama

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.

This is a quick post to say thanks once again to Stephen, Claire and the presenters at Storage Field Day 8. I had a fantastic time and learnt a lot. For easy reference, here’s a list of the posts I did covering the event (not necessarily in chronological order).

Storage Field Day – I’ll be at SFD8

Storage Field Day 8 – Day 0

Storage Field Day 8 – (Fairly) Full Disclosure

Cohesity – There’s more to this than just “Secondary Storage”

Violin Memory – Sounds a lot better than it used to

Pure Storage – Orange is the new black, now what?

INFINIDAT – What exactly is a “Moshe v3.0”?

Nimble Storage – InfoSight is still awesome

Primary Data – Because we all want our storage to do well

NexGen Storage – Storage QoS and other good things

Coho Data – Numerology, but not as we know it

Intel – They really are “Inside”

Qumulo – Storage for people who care about their data


Also, here’s a number of links to posts by my fellow delegates. They’re all switched-on people, and you’d do well to check out what they’re writing about. I’ll try and update this list as more posts are published. But if it gets stale, the SFD8 landing page has updated links.


Ray Lucchesi (@RayLucchesi)

Coho Data, the packet processing squeeze and working set exploits

Primary data’s path to better data storage presented at SFD8

PB are the new TB, GreyBeards talk with Brian Carmody, CTO Inifinidat


Mark May (@CincyStorage)

Can Violin Step back From the Brink?

Storage software can change enterprise workflow

Redefining Secondary Storage


Scott D. Lowe (@OtherScottLowe)

IT as a Change Agent: It’s Time to Look Inward, Starting with Storage

Overcoming “New Vendor Risk”: Pure Storage’s Techniques

So, What is Secondary Storage Cohesity-Style?

Data Awareness Is Increasingly Popular in the Storage Biz


Jon Klaus (@JonKlaus)

Storage Field Day – I will be attending SFD8!

Wow it’s early – Traveling to Storage Field Day 8

Coho Data: storage transformation without disruption

Pure Storage: Non Disruptive Everything

Cohesity is changing the definition of secondary storage

Qumulo: data-aware scale-out NAS

Nimble Storage – InfoSight VMVision

NexGen Storage: All-Flash Arrays can be hybrids too!

Infinidat: Enterprise reliability and performance


Alex Galbraith (@AlexGalbraith)

Looking Forward to Storage Field Day 8

Without good Analytics you dont have a competitive storage product

How often do you upgrade your storage array software?

Where and why is my data growing?…

Why are storage snapshots so painful?


Jarett Kulm (@JK47TheWeapon)

Storage Field Day 8 – Here I come!


Enrico Signoretti (@ESignoretti)

#SFD8, it’s storage prime time!

Analytics, the key to (storage) happiness

We are entering the Data-aware infrastructure era

Has the next generation of monolithic storage arrived? 25: Qumulo, data-aware scale-out NAS

Infinidat: awesome tech, great execution 27: NexGen Storage, QoS made easy.

Software defined? No no no, it’s poorly defined storage (and why Primary Data is different) 28 – Infinidat storage: multiple nine resiliency, high performance, $1/GB

Are you going All-Flash? Nah, the future is hybrid


Vipin V.K. (@VipinVK111)

Tech Field Day Calling…! – #SFD8

Infinibox – Enterprise storage solution from Infinidat

Understanding NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express)

All-Flash symphony from Violin Memory

Cohesity – Secondary storage consolidation

With FLASH, things are changing ‘in a flash’ !?


Josh De Jong (@EuroBrew)

Storage Field Day Here I Come!

Thoughts in the Airport

NexGen Storage – The Future is Hybrid

Pure Storage – Enterprise Ready, Pure and Simple


Finally, thanks again to Stephen, Claire (and Tom in absentia). It was an educational and enjoyable few days and I really valued the opportunity I was given to attend.



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 (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


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.


Storage Field Day 8 – (Fairly) Full Disclosure

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.

My full disclosure post will never reach the heady heights of Justin’s, all I can do is try and get somewhere near that level. Here are my notes on gifts, etc, that I received as a delegate at Storage Field Day 8. I’d like to point out that I’m not trying to play presenters / companies off against each other. I don’t have feelings one way or another about receiving gifts at these events (although I generally prefer small things I can fit in my suitcase). Rather, I just trying to make it clear what I received during this event to ensure that we’re all on the same page as far as what I’m being influenced by. Some presenters didn’t provide any gifts as part of their session – which is totally fine. I’m going to do this in chronological order, as that was the easiest way for me to take notes during the week. While every delegate’s situation is different, I’d also like to clarify that I took 2 days of vacation time and 3 days of training / work time to be at this event.



I left my house Saturday morning at 4am and travelled BNE -> SYD -> SFO. I paid for my own cab to the airport in Brisbane, with the transfer in Sydney covered by my ticket. A period of time passed and I was given “dinner” and “breakfast”. This was included in the price of the ticket (paid for by Tech Field Day). Alcoholic beverages were not included, but I stuck with water. United wanted to sell me snacks at some stage too, but I politely declined. I had a spare seat next to me and the opportunity to watch “Office Space” for the umpteenth time on the tiny screen, so it wasn’t all bad.



On Tuesday night we had the delegate dinner at Antonella’s Ristorante in San Jose. It’s a nice Italian place. I had a bit of everything. As part of the gift exchange I received a pair of socks and some very nice beef jerky. I also had two Modelos and a Montejo at the hotel bar after dinner. Claire gave us all a bag of snacks when we got to the hotel. I particularly enjoyed the cashews and Reese’s things.




We had breakfast at Mikayla’s. I had a breakfast roll. Coho Data provided us with doughnuts with bacon on top. While you can put bacon on all kinds of things, sometimes it’s best if you don’t. They also gave each of us a Coho-flavoured Raspberry Pi 2. We had lunch at Pure Storage provided by DishDash. They also gave us some brightly-coloured socks and a 8GB USB stick. Cohesity  provided us with a Hawaiian-themed food and beverages, including Mai Tais. This may or may not have been a mistake given the feistiness of some of the delegates during the ensuing session. They also gave us customised Amazon Echo devices. I gave mine to Claire as it wouldn’t work in Australia. We also received a Cohesity sleeveless fleece top – arguably these don’t work in Australia either, as it doesn’t get that cold where I live :). We had a social event at the Hotel Valencia on Santana Row. I had some sliders and a few Heinekens. I then went to the bar at the hotel and had a Fat Tire before retiring for the night.



We had a buffet breakfast at the hotel. I had some bacon and eggs and fruit. Qumulo provided us with a Qumulo-branded notepad. We had a Californian BBQ-style lunch at the hotel. After a few more sessions, we then had dinner at Picasso’s in downtown San Jose. It was a tapas place, so I had a bit of everything. And two glasses of Sangria. I then had a Fat Tire at the hotel bar upon our return.



On Friday morning we had breakfast at Violin Memory. I had a breakfast burrito and coffee (I loves me some Mexican in the morning). They also gave us a T-shirt, stubbie holder, bottle opener, mints and toothpicks. Intel provided us with a nice buffet lunch at the Intel HQ Executive Briefing Centre. Nimble Storage gave us each a small tote bag, a webcam privacy screen, some headphones and a travel set. This was followed by “Happy Hour” at Nimble. I had a sparkling water. To finish off we had dinner at Mexicali in Santa Clara. I had a prawn burrito. I didn’t eat anything on the flight home.



I’d like to extend my thanks once again to the Storage Field Day organisers and the companies presenting at the event. I had an extremely enjoyable and educational time. Here’s a photo.



Storage Field Day 8 – Day 0

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.

This is just a quick post to share some thoughts on day zero at Storage Field Day. I thought I’d share some touristy snaps before we get into the meat and potatoes stuff later in the week. Here’s the obligatory wing shot – this one was taken as we were about to start the descent into SFO.

I spent a few days relaxing with a friend in the Bay Area before meeting up with my fellow delegates on Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday evening we all got together and headed to Antonella’s Ristorante in San Jose. It was great.


Anyway, enough with the holiday snaps. I just wanted to thank Stephen and Claire for having me back, making sure everything is running according to plan and for just being really very decent people. I’ve really enjoyed catching up with the people I’ve met before and meeting the new guys. Look out for some posts related to the Tech Field Day sessions in the next few weeks. And if you’re in a useful timezone, check out the live streams from the event here, or the recordings afterwards.