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Permabit flashes enterprise SDK at mystery partner

Deduping a flash array. Could it be Violin's?

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Funky array startup Violin Memory is apparently adding deduplication to its memory array, and it could be licensing Permabit's Albireo technology to do it.

Deduplication software technology supplier Permabit has developed its Albireo software to work on flash arrays: enterprise flash arrays to be precise. The "Albireo Software Development Kit (SDK) and Virtual Data Optimizer (VDO) products [now] support enterprise flash technologies utilised in flash arrays, caching solutions (both hardware and software), and Solid State Devices (SSDs) including both drives and PCIe solutions," the firm announced last week.

The benefits are said to include lowering the effective cost of flash storage by three to five times on a $/GB basis, by storing less data, and reducing the umber of writes needed - which is a big plus with write-limited flash storage. Permabit says its flash dedupe technology "delivers effective cost for performance and capacity well below that of traditional hard disk-based storage arrays."

This is a major change in the cost structure for flash storage, if it is true.

Permabit says that Albireo for flash has:

  • scalability to millions of dedupe operations per second;
  • greater than 250,000 IOPS inline performance using a single commodity CPU core;
  • sub-millisecond latency; and
  • <512 MB minimum memory footprint.

Up until now none of the major or mainstream storage vendors have used Permabit's technology. Known licensees include BlueArc, since bought by HDS, and LSI. We don't know if that LSI licence is active. Overland Storage and StoneFly are other known licensees.

Permabit says Albireo manages to deduplicate primary data in a storage array without impacting read or write access performance. Last August ESG co-founder and senior analyst Steve Duplessie said: "I don't see any other real alternatives for OEMs to be able to quickly get to market with lightning fast dedupe capabilities for primary, secondary, or really any-dary storage. Albireo rocks."

At the Solid State Storage Symposium in San Jose on 25 April, Violin Technology's software CTO, Jonathan Goldick, was on a panel discussing future flash matters. If you check out the video of the panel, and watch the inline dedupe section of the session (which starts at the 17.35 mark), Violin's turn comes at 24.37, when Goldick says: "The Permabit guys really do deliver what they say they do." He mentions this in the context of asynchronous deduplication so as to keep the processing out of the I/O path and, figuratively, "make 80 per cent of the writes disappear".

The second piece of the puzzle

Looking at the Permabit website we find a case study about how an unnamed "leading provider of high performance SSDs began to look at entering the Enterprise Flash Appliance space." We now think we know who that is: more than likely it's Violin Memory.

The case study text says:

Albireo VDO provides complete deduplication and thin-provisioning capabilities within a ready-to-run Linux device-mapper module. Once installed, they simply exported Albireo VDO as a normal block device to be used directly as deduplicating block storage. As an added benefit, Albireo VDO provided thin provisioning, an additional enterprise storage capability that the vendor had not even planned to deliver until much further down the product roadmap.

I think this could be a straight description of how Violin Memory is adding deduplication to its memory array. ®

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