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SolidFire adds data protection and Cisco/OpenStack to all-flash arrays

All-flash array maker goes for enterprise market with added data protection features and adds Cisco UCS-based reference architecture for OpenStack cloud environments

All-flash array maker SolidFire has upgraded its controller operating system (OS) to version 8 – codenamed Oxygen – and added data protection and data reduction functionality to make the product more appealing to potential enterprise customers.

SolidFire has also announced it is to launch a reference architecture for OpenStack deployments with Cisco UCS servers.

The Oxygen OS upgrade is focused on data protection. Continuous data protection (CDP) is already present and allows a slow trickle of changed data between sites, but this release adds more traditional replicationsynchronous and asynchronous – with a scheduling and retention manager.

According to SolidFire technical director Martin Cooper, the addition of data protection features has become necessary as the company transitioned from a customer base mostly made up of service providers.

“Customers were using VMware Site Recovery Manager or application replication and in general we didn’t worry about providing it because the service provider customers we initially targeted had site-to-site replication just fine,” he said.

“But for the enterprise market we need more traditional data protection approaches. Asking companies to change their data protection approach so they can use flash storage is a big ask.”

SolidFire has also added lightweight directory access protocol (LDAP) authentication to allow integration with environments such as Active Directory and customers’ existing security models, as well as data deduplication and compression.

The all-flash array maker has also added a new OpenStack-plus-Cisco server reference architecture to its portfolio. It uses the Red Hat distribution of OpenStack and Cinder block storage application programming interfaces to connect any of the four SolidFire arrays as OpenStack storage.

The reference architecture specifies pre-qualified server/storage/networking components comprising SolidFire storage, Cisco UCS C-Class servers and Cisco Nexus networking hardware. This adds to existing SolidFire reference architectures that use Dell R630 servers.

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“This was the next obvious server platform and there are lots in Cisco’s technology that links to how we think about things, such as the use of XML server profiles to virtualise RAM, CPU resources, and so on,” said Cooper.

In February 2015, SolidFire brought the number of all-flash arrays in its portfolio to four and debuted storage software Element X.

The company now has four all-flash arrays with iSCSI and Fibre Channel connectivity in its portfolio. The SF2405, SF4805 and SF9605 all offer 50,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS) per 1U node, with raw capacities of 2.4TB, 4.8TB and 9.6TB respectively. The SF9010 also has 9.6TB raw capacity but, with eight core CPUs, offers 75,000 IOPS per node.

SolidFire originally focused on selling all-flash products to cloud service providers. Its arrays have automation and Multi-tenancy functionality, and admins can assign storage volumes with different characteristics to different customers.

But with the advent of the 05-suffixed products, the company has taken aim at enterprises that want flash for specific projects such as private cloud, virtualisation and database performance, all at a lower cost point.

Element X storage software allows customers to build storage systems from commodity server hardware and drives at lower cost than purchasing off-the-shelf storage arrays. It also suits larger organisations that source servers in pre-existing hardware supply chains.

Read more on Flash storage and solid-state drives (SSDs)