Fusion-io’s ION Shares Flash

Fusion-io has debuted the ION data accelerator, a Linux-based software stack that turns the ioMemory within a server into a shared storage target.

Fusion-io executive David Flynn noted that VMware’s recent acquisition of Nicira had brought software-defined networking into the spotlight. ION, Flynn claimed, inaugurates vendor-neutral, software-defined flash storage: “The biggest compliant that people have had is that with flash attached as a memory within a server, you don’t get the benefits of sharing between servers.”

The technology “turns the server into something that looks like the highest-performing SAN on the planet,” he added. “We’re talking about a 1U server that can do over a million I/Os a second and over 6 Gbytes per second of bandwidth over standard networking, from off-the-shelf software.”

However, ION isn’t the first attempt in this space: both Violin Memory and Texas Memory have adopted similar approaches (Fusion-io claims that both rivals’ solutions are proprietary). Texas Memory recently announced the development of bootable PCI Express-based flash storage, an unrelated development but one that the company claims will alleviate the need for traditional hard drives within arrays; just SSDs may be used, the company claims.

Customers have been asking for Fusion-io memory that’s accessible over a network, but Flynn said the company held off until it could do so with satisfactory performance. In order to help make that happen, companyhired several key Linux authors, including Jens Axboe, the current Linux kernel maintainer of the block layer; Chris Mason, the author of Btrfs and Fusion-io’s director of kernel engineering; and others.

The ION can deliver 600,000 8K IOPS, with 5 GB/s of bandwidth. Latencies are just 73 microseconds for reading and 56 microseconds for writing. Up to 20 Tbytes may be addressed, over either Fibre Channel or Infiniband.

Fusion-io, which debuted the software Aug. 1 in conjunction with an event in San Francisco, will charge $3,900 for the software, Flynn said. That price is for the server license, regardless of the ioMemory used with it. That requires the customer to integrate the software with an existing server that uses ioMemory; Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM all provide those machines.  In this case, the customer will need to solicit server support from the server vendor, ioDrive support from the supplier, and ION support from Fusion-io.

Customers can also purchase a fully integrated solution using hardware from either HP or Supermicro, and receive support just from Fusion-io itself.

“The interesting part about this is that by disaggregating, by decoupling our solution from the actual server box, it not only allows choice of vendor and the diversity of form factor,” Flynn said. “So you have this immense diversity of form factors so that it can fit into your homogenous array. If you like blades, it’s just another blade. If you like pizza boxes, it’s just another pizza box – it’s the same form factor.”

 

Image: Jakub Pavlinec/Shutterstock.com

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