I was going to make this part 11 of my vSphere 5.5 Storage Enhancements series, but I thought that since this is such a major enhancement to storage in vSphere 5.5, I’d put a little more focus on it. vFRC, short for vSphere Flash Read Cache, is a mechanism whereby the read operations of your virtual machine are accelerated by using an SSD or a PCIe flash device to cache the disk blocks of the application running in the Guest OS of your virtual machine. Now, rather than going to magnetic disk to read a block of data, the data can be retrieved from a flash cache layer to improve performance and lower latency. This is commonly known as write-through cache, as opposed to write-back cache, where the write operation is acknowledged when the block of data enters the cache layer.
This is an interesting announcement for those of you following emerging storage technologies. We’ve been talking about flash technologies for some time now, but for the most part flash has been either an SSD or PCIe device. Well, we now have another format – DIMM-based flash storage device. And VMware now supports it.
Last week I had the opportunity to catch up with Mike Koponen and Dean Steadman of Fusion-io. I had met with Mike and Dean at VMworld 2013, and spoke to them about the Fusion-io acquisition of NexGen storage earlier last year, and what plans Fusion-io had for this acquisition. Well, the result is ioControl Hybrid Storage, and we discussed some of the architecture of ioControl as well as a number of vSphere integration points.
All Flash Arrays continue to make the news. Whether it is EMC’s XtremIO launch or Violin Memory’s current market woes, there is no doubt that AFAs continue to generate a lot of interest. Those of you interested in flash storage will not need an introduction to SolidFire. These guys were founded by Dave Wright (ex-RackSpace) and have been around since 2009. I have been trying to catch up with SolidFire for sometime as I’d heard their pitch around Quality of Service on a per volume basis and wanted to learn more, especially how it integrated with vSphere features. Recently I caught up with Dave Cahill and Adam Carter of SolidFire to have a chat about SolidFire in general and what the VMware integration points are.
There is a new storage vendor on the block – COHO DATA – who just exited stealth and launched their new product with the tag ‘Storage for the Cloud Generation’. I had the opportunity recently to catch up with Andy Warfield, co-founder and CTO of COHO DATA. Andy has a long history of involvement with storage and virtualization. A graduate of Cambridge University in the UK, he was involved in XenSource where he developed much of the low-level storage integration mechanisms for external storage arrays like NetApp and DELL EqualLogic. Andy gave me an in-depth interview related to their new product, and why certain development directions were taken by COHO DATA.
As part of my storage vendors to check out at VMworld 2013 in San Francisco, one of the vendors I really wanted to catch up with was SanDisk and to learn more about their FlashSoft product. FlashSoft are run as the software division of SanDisk. In August 2012, they released version 3.0 of their I/O acceleration software, compatible with vSphere 5.0. In April 2013, they released version 3.1 which works with vSphere 5.0 & 5.1. I caught up with a number of folks from the FlashSoft team at VMworld 2013 to learn more about their product, and what their plans were going forward.