Hear what the experts at Violin have to say about a variety of topics on all things Flash.

The Problem with Batteries

by on March 5, 2015

Batteries in the data center are problematic. Traditional lead-acid batteries outgas hydrogen (an explosive gas), they can leak acid which can make a real mess of cables and equipment, and they take a lot of space in addition to being pretty heavy. In addition, there are issues with cells drying out, interconnect degradation and thermal runaway problems. Modern Li-Ion batteries are much better, they just occasionally burst into flames.

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There are practical considerations as well. Batteries require service. The logistics for 100 arrays and their batteries gets messy very quickly. Since the batteries will not last as long as the array, this scenario may be repeated multiple times during the life of the array. Finally, there might be a problem with local building codes. The National Electric Code® doesn’t seem to support batteries outside the building infrastructure. Not every local jurisdiction uses the National Electric Code, but most do.

Why are batteries needed in flash storage systems? They’re not. They exist as a workaround for poor system design. Flash systems that have always-on data reduction and SSDs are particularly likely to have large amounts of DRAM to process incoming data. In the event of a power outage, the data must be protected in any enterprise class solution. Therefore a DRAM-based design must include batteries to de-stage data from volatile DRAM to non-volatile flash storage.

Violin’s Flash Fabric Architecture™ does not require batteries, by design. Violin storage certainly has some DRAM in the system for our deduplication and other processing needs. The difference is that we also use a small amount of our high-performance Violin Intelligent Memory Module (VIMM) flash to process inbound data, including data reduction. In the event of a power failure there is no compromised data, and no need to use batteries.

Over reliance on DRAM for array functions leads to the need for batteries. By the way, over reliance on DRAM also creates an inconsistent performance profile: you may notice the performance drop when work moves from DRAM to flash. Primary storage needs consistent performance, not latency spikes from over reliance on DRAM.

There is no need to use batteries for all-flash arrays that are well designed. You don’t need to design your data center around battery problems in your arrays. Violin Memory’s all-flash storage arrays don’t need batteries. You don’t either.

The Unexpected Side-Effects of Tiering

by on February 22, 2015

A few months ago, I was visiting a customer, who also happens to be a very large, global retailer. I sat down with their storage architect to get a sense of their environment, their application and technology dependencies, and ultimately, their storage decision criteria. They had been running EMC hybrid arrays for a while. What…

Hello Flash Storage Platform, Concerto OS 7 and Symphony 3!

by on February 17, 2015

Today, I am exceptionally proud and excited to announce the availability of our new Flash Storage Platform (FSP), powered by Concerto OS 7 and managed by Symphony 3. The 7300E, 7300 and 7700 Flash Storage Platform products we have announced today allow any size or type of customer, to deploy all of their primary storage…

The Register asks why you would put traditional enterprise workloads on an All Flash Array? Here’s why.

by on February 13, 2015

The Register asks: why would you put traditional enterprise workloads on All Flash Arrays (AFA)? Here are some reasons why. Because they don’t run batch jobs in ½ the time but in 1/10th time or 1/50th the time, and suddenly that batch job can be run as a real time dashboard, or the batch order…

You Can’t Have Enough Performance, Really.

by on February 10, 2015

The topic for this episode of the Architecture Matters blog series is performance, and specifically why performance is something you can’t have enough of. When Violin pioneered the all-flash array, our goal was to deliver a product and architecture that would be built from the ground up to deliver flash storage at amazing speeds. The…