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Violin Memory grabs Fusion-io's former chief

Basile orchestrates memory appliance launch

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Next year the company anticipates delivering terabyte pricing competitive with the performance of hard disk drive storage at the enterprise class level. Basile expects Violin product pricing in 2010: "will be in single digit thousands per terabyte, single digit dollars per gigabyte". Because of this he expects Violin to change the entire pricing structure for the performance market.

How is this going to be done? Basile says that the product supports DRAM, single-level and also multi-level cell flash, which might be a clue.

Violin says it has used these coming performance advantages to work in conjunction with nearly every major data center infrastructure OEM, in order to "eliminate the last barrier to the adoption of virtualisation in the data centre that will help accelerate the deployment of cloud computing and unified computing architectures".

This last barrier, as Violin terms it, is the storage bottleneck - the price/performance storage networking choke that denies hungry Nehalem servers the I/O channel they need to to keep them fed with data. Violin reckons it has the technology to blow that barrier away.

Basile has set up an Advisory Board for Violin, staffed by 12 or so CIOs from pharmaceutical, technology, government, consumer product, and telecommunications companies and organisations. There are several customer trials of Violin products underway, and customer and partner announcements can be expected over the next three months.

What this means is that there is now real competition for Fusion-io and Texas Memory Systems (TMS) with its RamSan technology. Violin says that the best place for flash is as a performance array networked to servers, not as an internal cache. Only an external array will have the capacity needed to hold all of an application's data and avoid data tiering complexities inherent in a multi-tier SSD and hard drive array.

Basile says he sees Violin's main competition as flash-enhanced drive arrays such as EMC's Symmetrix and Clariion. It seems apparent though that the RamSan is a broadly similar device.

Basile has the bit between his teeth and is intent on Violin making a big splash in the external performance storage market. You might say that, as a result of his Fusion-io experience, he's been fired with enthusiasm. ®

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