SolidFire Launches Flash-Based Block Storage Solution for Scale-Out OpenStack Clouds

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SolidFire, which specializes in all-flash storage systems, has created an agile storage array designed to provide fast, block storage for OpenStack clouds, allowing scaling from 60 TB to 3.4 PB.

Far from a simple Solid-State Drive array, SolidFire has created what it calls Agile Infrastructure. This combines scale-out block storage, Dell compute and networking, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack to provide scalability, automation and guaranteed performance control, as an all-in-one solution.

According to SolidFire marketing VP Jay Prassl, SolidFire’s performance boost doesn’t just come from running SSDs, as opposed to hard disc drives. “It allows large enterprises to be more agile to their internal IT customers,” he said.

This is due to SolidFire’s automation and management capabilities that help deploy applications faster, provide more scalability, increase application performance predictability, and reduce operating cost. Prassl said, “Flash itself doesn’t solve these problems – except for raw speed.”

SolidFire also solves a problem known as “noisy neighbors,” in which one app consumes all the system resources, slowing the others down. An Oracle database, for instance, could cause other applications to temporarily slow to a crawl. This is a particular problem for service providers who pool resources, and have little control over their customers’ applications.

Prassl said, “What SolidFire does is it creates tiers that guarantee a certain level of performance for different applications.” This means that a WordPress blog, for instance, might be guaranteed 100 IOPs, whereas an Oracle database might be guaranteed 5,000 IOPs. Both applications get the resources they need without hogging them from one another. This helps ensure more predictable application performance.

And this functionality, along with SSD arrays, is something that will power many large-scale cloud deployments consisting not on the scale of 5 to 10 applications, but rather 5,000 to 10,000.

According to Prassl, the economics of SSD are making it a more viable option. “Many people think of flash as your mother’s fine china – it’s used only brought out for special occasions. But it’s been steadily coming down in price.” Even with SSD, SolidFire says its solution costs around around $3 per GB in total.

SolidFire storage is scalable, allowing customers to start out with a simple 5 node configuration in a 5U rack, and scale out with 1U node increments as their needs dictate.

Hosting providers like Servint and Datapipe have also made SolidFire a part of their offerings, allowing customers to use a SolidFire-powered solution without having to buy it outright.

But SolidFire has some competition from the open-source community. According to figures from the OpenStack Foundation, approximately 20 percent of all OpenStack clouds deploy Ceph for block storage. Prassl notes that while Ceph provides a mix of performance and control, and runs object, file and block storage, “it really isn’t about guaranteed performance and predictability.”

SolidFire’s solution is clearly aimed at companies that need performance and predictability, and who don’t want noisy neighbors to disturb them.

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