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StoneFly is going to bundle Fusion-io server flash with its virtual IP SAN appliance, giving it lightning-like performance.

The company provides IP SANS or software that runs as a virtual machine and turns the allocated host server's disk drive storage into an iSCSI storage area network (SAN) resource, in roughly the same way as HP's LeftHand virtual storage appliance (VSA).

There are two StoneFly virtual SAN products. SCVM (Storage Concentrator Virtual Machine) and ESS (Enterprise Storage Services). SVCM is for VMware or Hyper-V environments whereas ESS is for Windows or Hyper-V environments only.

StoneFly has signed an OEM deal with Fusion-io such that SVCM and ESS will be combined with Fusion's ioMemory PCIe-connected flash storage. Fusion-io provides direct-attached solid state drives (SSDs) that provide an intermediate tier of fast storage between a server's DRAM and its hard disk drives.

When that physical server runs the SVCM or ESS software the Fusion flash is turned into a sharable 10GbitE networked resource, a flash SAN, both for virtual machines (VMs) running on the same physical server or for external hosts.

StoneFly says its bundled product "provides full end-to-end content protection and disaster recovery". Its Hybrid Replication feature provides synchronous mirroring within the data centere, distributed campus, asynchronous mirroring (remote replication) between remote facilities, and cloud replication.

Mo Tahmasebi, StoneFly president and CEO, said: "Our work with Fusion-io enables us to provide customers with scalable and innovative storage solutions unlike anything out there in the market today."

Well, yes, generally a virtual storage appliance isn't generally perceived to be as fast or as scalable as a physical IP SAN because it uses host processor cycles and host direct-attached storage. Using host-attached Fusion ioMemory, up to 1.28TB of it, doesn't solve scaling issues but knocks any performance argument on the head.

Such an IP flash SAN with a VM-hosted storage controller should respond to read and write requests with very low latencies indeed and have brilliant IOPS capabilities.

Both Fusion-io and StoneFly suggest that flash-enhanced SVCM and ESS could be attractive to cloud service providers as well as to operators of business data centres.

StoneFly also ships a range of hardware plus software bundles to create IP SANs, such as its Voyager line. There's no word on whether these will include the Fusion-io flash modules as well. ®

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