The deal will make Fusion-io an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partner of the networking giant and give its flash strategy even more of the big-name backing it needs to take on its more traditional storage rivals.
Flash has long been recognised as a superior storage technology when it comes to performance, but the cost of placing it across storage arrays has remained high, keeping hard disk drives as the most popular choice for most companies.
However, rather than placing SSDs at the storage end, Fusion-io has created a PCIe flash card to place directly into servers, enabling the most critical data to remain next to the compute for fast access, rather than sending it off into the datacentre. This, it claims, gives the extra burst of performance needed while saving the cost of deploying flash across storage boxes at the back-end.
Fusion-io likes to be viewed as a component for business to purchase on top of their services. The company has focused on keeping it as an open technology, compatible with whatever kit resides in a datacentre.
By partnering with Cisco, the PCIe cards will be a built-in feature when the new UCS B-series blade servers begin shipping later this year. The deal increases Fusion-io's growing list of OEM partners – which includes Dell, HP and IBM.
“This deal means Fusion-io has now made in-roads into all the major server vendors… so the Cisco UCS deal completes the set,” Simon Robinson, vice-president of storage research at The 451 Group, told Computer Weekly.
“If anything, this probably improves its message as being compatible with all major server platforms.”
He claimed the partnerships validated the company’s approach to flash, but other storage options – backed by the likes of EMC – were still on the table.
“This is not necessarily a binary either/or decision; some very I/O sensitive applications/workloads will be better served by having flash in the server, but others will equally benefit from having flash in the storage layer,” added Robinson.
“There is some tension here for sure that is playing out, and Fusion-io is being very aggressive in its messaging against the incumbent storage vendors, but the reality is that the mainstream storage market is not going away anytime soon.”