SolidFire: flash evangelists missing the big picture

Flash array vendor SolidFire has unveiled a series of enhancements to its operating system and criticised rivals for failing to look beyond pure speed when it comes to solid state sales

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Flash storage specialist SolidFire has released a new version of its operating system and called for partners to rally to its banner, saying it can help them win against the vast array of flash vendors currently making a racket in the market.

Among the enhancements to its Element operating system are the introduction of Fibre Channel connectivity, real-time replication, mixed-node cluster support and integrated backup and restore.

Named Carbon, the newest version of Element will, according to SolidFire’s sales and marketing VO Jay Prassl, help partners interested in flash have more in-depth conversations with their enterprise customers than they might with the likes of Pure Storage or Tegile.

Speaking to MicroScope, Prassl claimed his rivals had failed to look beyond the speed that flash arrays provide and said this was not good enough when it came to provisioning clouds.

“Yes, we sell flash arrays and we are speedy but we want to solve a wider range of problems. Speed is only a part of the next-generation datacentre; it has to be agile, extensible and automated,” he said.

“Enterprise IT customers want more than deploying high-speed flash – their needs exist beyond raw speed – they want faster deployment of apps, agile, scalable infrastructure, application performance, predictability, higher efficiency and lower cost.

“These guys have experienced Rackspace, AWS and the like, and that has created pressure to create better agility and predictability – enterprises are starting to work in a different way because of the availability of public cloud services.

“This begs the question – how can storage help close the gap? Traditional enterprise storage falls short – EMC and NetApp are standing in the way of allowing enterprises to compute in a resourced, on-demand model, but if you look at an all-flash company do they help to solve that? Our opinion is no,” said Prassl.

Giles Sirett, founder of SolidFire partner ShapeBlue, said: “They key thing SolidFire has done is their value proposition is not SSD, it’s their operating system, and how they’ve architected storage to exploit SSD. We haven’t seen anybody else looking at it in that way.”

“There are a lot of start-ups looking at similar things but they have not yet defined a reliable, mainstream offering. The big vendors are not really playing, or when they are they’re offering SSD based on 10-year-old operating systems,” he added.

SolidFire is hoping to induct a select number of storage specialists into its Cloud Builders programme, which includes deal registration and protection, tools and technical resources, high-touch field engagement, and integration with the CloudStack and OpenStack projects, as well as VMware.

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