Violin Memory puts advanced features in Concerto 7000 flash array

Formerly troubled Violin Memory's Concerto 7000 series puts replication, snapshots, CDP and WAN optimisation in an all-flash array

Flash array maker Violin Memory has added a suite of advanced storage functions, including replication, WAN optimisation, backup software integration and thin provisioning, to its 6000 series arrays and named the new product the Concerto 7000 series.

The addition of these features puts Violin in a pioneering position among flash array suppliers by offering advanced storage functions in its products. Advanced storage services have been commonplace among spinning disk arrays, but have been lacking in the flash array sphere.

With the launch, Violin has added the Concerto enterprise data management software suite to the controller, which is also available separately as an upgrade for customers that already run 6000 series (pictured) arrays.

Advanced storage functions in the Concerto suite include: synchronous replication to 100km; asynchronous replication; WAN optimisation, including data deduplication, compression and bandwidth throttling; snapshots, LUN mirroring; continuous data protection (CDP), backup app integration; and thin provisioning.

Such a wide range of advanced storage features is rare in flash arrays. Basic replication features are available in arrays from some makers, such as Pure Storage and Solidfire, but Violin is pioneering by including such a wide range of advanced functionality.

Violin’s 6000 series flash arrays, upon which the Concerto 7000 is built, come with MLC or SLC options (the 6200 and 6600 series, respectively). Capacities range from 6TB up to 70TB in 3U units and claimed 4k 70/30 read/write IOPS spanning 200,000 to 750,000 (MLC models) and 450,000 to 1,000,000 (SLC). Connectivity is Fibre Channel, iSCSI or Infiniband.

Violin Memory uses its own custom Violin Intelligent Memory Modules (VIMMs) – via a technology agreement with Toshiba – which combine flash memory and controller logic and redundant connections to other VIMMs in the array for high availability.

Violin’s vMOS operating systems and vRAID 4-plus-1 parity system stripe data across VIMMs to provide guaranteed three-year endurance cycle.

NVRAM cache is located at the VIMM, so no additional logic is required for cache coherency between controllers.

Violin also makes 3000-series arrays designed as direct-attached storage, the Windows Flash Array NAS flash-powered box with Microsoft Windows Storage Server NAS software and the Velocity series PCIe flash cards.

The launch is a milestone for Violin following a rocky period for the flash array pioneer since it floated on the New York Stock Exchange last September.

In that initial public offering (IPO), the company raised $162m, selling shares for $9. But Violin stock fell to $7 on the same day and by the end of November had plummeted to $3.

A series of boardroom changes ensued, including the departure of CEO Don Basile, and recommendations by activist investor group Clinton Group that the company should seek to be acquired.

Since the appointment of new CEO Kevin DeNuccio in February, the company appears to have steadied itself with several internal reshuffles, the decision to ditch its PCIe flash business, a refocusing on the channel and engineering efforts, and now the launch of the features-heavy Concerto 7000 series.

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