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EMC eyeing XtremIO ... just a rumble on the jungle drums?

Or it might be the sound of back-end Thunder

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Is EMC eyeing up flash array startup XtremIO, the one that's making extreme I/O claims about the all-flash array its developing?

El Reg heard a rumble from the storage jungle drums that this was so, but our source went deep into the bamboo as soon as we asked for more. So we asked ourselves why EMC should bother.

Let's start by pointing out that EMC has a scale-out filesystem/big data array in the shape of the peer-scaling, InfiniBand-using Isilon kit. Let's also note that EMC has added an SLC-based VFCache to its product armoury to get hot data as close as possible to individual servers.

This is getting enhancement in two ways. Firstly (according to EMC flash storage CTO Daniel Cobb, courtesy of a note from Piper Jaffray analyst Andrew Nowinski) by adding:

- automated vMotion
- deduplication
- policy-managed caching similar to the way FAST VP tiering software with automated data movement
- probable addition of cheaper but higher capacity MLC flash option

The next version of VFCache should see these features.

The second boost for hot data server-closeness is by adding a sharable flash array between the back-end storage arrays, such as VMAX, VNX, and Isilon, with its Thunder project connected to servers by a high-speed interconnect like InfiniBand.

The idea is that Thunder is fed data both by the front-end VFCache-enabled servers and the back-end arrays, and makes it sharable at high-speed between the servers with, maybe, FAST VP tiering data automatically between the back-end arrays, Thunder, and individual server VFCaches.

Let's remember this while casting our eye over XtremIO which is developing an all-flash array with these characteristics:

- combination of extreme performance, extreme efficiency, and an extremely strong business case
- scale-out with peer nodes
- high-availability enterprise storage array
- innovative architecture and storage algorithms
- simplifies provisioning
- a tremendous leap forward in I/O and latency performance to the market
- has unique new capabilities that hard drive-based storage cannot match
- eliminates the complexity that has traditionally plagued SAN storage configuration and tuning
- eliminates complex tuning procedures for a wide range of use cases

Deployed in a data centre, XtremIO's all-flash arrays will, it's claimed:

- dramatically improve performance
- accelerate applications
- support higher workloads at a competitive price to traditional disk arrays

The use cases include virtual server and virtual desktop infrastructure, database consolidation, analytics and business intelligence.

It's not hard to see the fit here is it? The XtremIO box could be Thunder spec-wise. Scale-out with peer nodes sounds almost like Isilon in flash. In fact we could see EMC eyeing up this great little startup and thinking Thunder could use its technology and so could Isilon. With XtremIO technology in its Thunder and Isilon products it could then provide a ginormously great platform for Greenplum analytics to run on. We could see EMC exec's saliva glands going into production overload over the prospects.

Of course this could be the demented imaginings of a bunch of pot-smoking Reg geeks. On the other hand…..

XtremIO is VC-funded to the tune of around $25 million. Assume a 5X premium and EMC would pay $125 million. It's a feasible deal wouldn't you think? ®

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