SolidFire upgrades Element all-flash array operating system

All-flash array maker SolidFire adds Fibre Channel connectivity, mixed node clusters, replication between SolidFire devices and integration with cloud backup and restore

All-flash array maker SolidFire has upgraded its Element operating system to version 6, codenamed Carbon, and added Fibre Channel connectivity, heterogenous clustering between SolidFire arrays, real-time replication and backup and restore integrated with cloud management platforms.

SolidFire builds all-flash arrays targeted at cloud service providers and was iSCSI block storage only until this release. Element 6 adds Fibre Channel connectivity up to 16Gbps.

Also added is the ability to create active-active clusters of mixed SolidFire devices. These can be a mix of different SolidFire products and in terms of connectivity, with iSCSI and Fibre Channel mixed.

Remote replication between devices is also built in to Element 6, and there is no extra licencing charge for this feature.

Element 6 also includes backup and restore integrated with cloud storage management platforms, including Open Stack’s Swift open source object storage environment as well as Amazon S3 or its clones.

Solidfire is one of a number of players in an increasingly hot flash array market.

That market is divided between newer startups like SolidFire, Violin Memory, Pure Storage and Kaminario on the one hand and big six vendors such as EMC, IBM and NetApp on the other that have either bought smaller market players or begun to develop their own flash products.

With a service provider market in mind SolidFire’s arrays are designed with Multi-tenancy functionality and admins can assign storage volumes with different characteristics to different customers.

Its arrays integrate via REST APIs to cloud platforms Open Stack, Apache CloudStack and Vmware vCloud Director and are built to accommodate a wide range of workloads, not just high performance.

SolidFire uses multi-level cell (MLC) and single-level cell (SLC) flash drives and scales in 1U nodes that go from four or five up to 100, with I/O performance reaching up to 5m IOPS.

Different processors and drive sizes provide three levels of product with increasing levels of I/O and capacity, from the SF3010 to SF 9010 via the SF6010. Data deduplication, compression and thin provisioning are built in to help lower the cost per GB for operations outside of Tier 1 or Tier 0.

The new functionality in Element 6 will be available from the second quarter of 2014.

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