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GreenBytes waves wand, turns flash array into cloudy kit

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

GreenBytes has turned its Solidarity flash array into what it's called an IO Offload Engine: a bit of gear purpose-built for weathering storms on storage networks caused by thousands of virtual desktops booting up and such like. Sitting in front of a storage array, taking care of the heavy IO lifting, it is sold to service providers in a pay-per-use scheme.

The appliance is a storage-area network accelerator that dishes out files to servers that host the virtual desktop machines used by remotely connected workers. It's similar to Avere's FXT filer acceleration device, broadly speaking.

The IO Offload Engine is actually GreenByte's Solidarity array, a three-tiered DRAM and flash device driven by ZFS-based software with a substantially rewritten deduplication function. This provides an up to 92 per cent data reduction rate with virtual desktop image (VDI) files, which feature a lot of redundant information in the tens, hundreds and indeed thousands of versions of a few master files - which provide template desktops for connected employees.

When thousands of workers connect to and start up their virtual desktops in the morning there is a VDI boot storm that puts a huge load on the storage array supplying the files. Something has to cope with this spike in usage, either with lots of spindles and/or flash drives together with deduplication to lower the effective cost-per-GB of the expensive flash.

It is cheaper, GreenBytes says, to use a purpose-designed flash array that occupies a fraction of the space needed by a VDI bulked-up array, uses a fraction of its power and cooling, performs faster, and requires no change to the existing infrastructure. As well as handling VDI provisioning the appliance also handles VDI swap requests with no paging to disk.

The GreenBytes appliance has dual active controllers and is accessed as an iSCSI block device. It has RAID protection with hot spares, an N+1 power supply and VMware VAAI acceleration. VMware SRM is coming later this year as is Fibre Channel connectivity.

GreenBytes is taking itself out of the all-flash storage array business, from a marketing position standpoint, and redefining itself as a "provider of cloud-scale IO-Offload" systems. With this move it is paralleling the position of hybrid flash-disk drive array supplier Tintri, which also has a virtualisation focus, but one centred on virtual machines in virtualised servers.

Bob Petrocelli, GreenBytes' CEO and CTO, said: "More like a next-generation switch and less like a storage device, the IO Offload Engine runs beside the storage already in place and complements, rather than competes, with traditional SANs.”

GreenBytes will sell it to managed service providers, telcos and enterprises. It has an all-OPEX pricing model. The base model provides support for up to 1,000 VDI instances and can scale to 4,500. Customers needing more can get additional boxes as required.

Visitors to VMworld, at San Francisco's Moscone Centre between 26 and 28 August, can see the appliance. ®

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