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CEO cheeks positively aflame, they do say

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Silicon Valley Confidential The Vulture has been busy listening on the storage beat to rumour, (s)innuendo, gossip and insider info, taking it from the best of sources and bringing it to you for entertainment, wonder and schadenfreude. None of this is verified or conformed by vendors but it does come from the very best of sources, top table folks.

Here is the latest instalment from the streets of Sunnyvale, the parades of Palo Alto, the malls of Milpitas, the … oh you get the idea:

NetApp joined in the bidding for XtremIO, the Israeli-based all-flash array vendor that was acquired by EMC, they do say. We hear NetApp bid $500 million but, amazingly, XtremIO decided to go with EMC for a lower bid of $430 million; kissing $70 million goodbye.

That must have been particularly galling for NetApp CEO Tom Georgens and exec chairman Dan Warmenhoven, what with NetApp consistently rated as a great place to work, and following on from EMC snatching DataDomain from NetApp's clutches - after Warmenhoven paraded Data Domain's then-CEO Frank Slootman at an all-hands meeting in Sunnyvale days before Slootman and his board decided to go with EMC.

Maybe XtremIO people looked at NEtApp's acquisition history and decided EMC was a better bet in terms of getting product to market quickly (don't mention Spinnaker, cough).

Instead of pursuing another flash array vendor NetApp decided to build its FlashRay product in-house. It must have thought the XtremIO technology was so hot no other startup had anything up at that level and wasn't going to settle for second best.

Violin Memory is not doing as well as we might suppose. It's annual revenue run rate is murmured to be $50 million to $60 million. The recent surprise $96 million funding round was needed to enable the company to push back its IPO and grow its business. This runs counter to the view that the money was needed to buy time while another vendor thought seriously about buying Violin, with Dell being a possibility.

X-IO, a maker of hybrid flash/disk drive storage products, has better power-efficiency than two well-known all-flash array vendors, even though it has to spin disk drives - it is whispered. This information comes from a trial by a UK customer Who Shall Not Be Named, who was looking for an array to store some hot data but needed it to be both power-efficient and cost-effective.

People do say that the environment was VMware on an 8-core CPU box with 64GB RAM and 4 FC ports, with the primary workload being a large sequential write follow by random reads (4K block sizes used). All the performance tests showed identical results with sub 1ms latencies. X-IO punted a 10TB Hyper-ISE box which drew 420-450 watts. The two flash arrays each drew more than 800 watts. The power draw was measured by the customer with their own equipment.

Well-known flash array vendors in the UK include Nimbus Data, Violin Memory and Whiptail. Out of interest we sent this enquiry to Nimbus:

"Could you confirm please that the E-Class power draw is 5 watts per terabyte and that, therefore, a 10TB E-Class would draw 50 watts? We have been told by a competitor that it draws 1,400 watts."

A Nimbus Data spokesperson replied:

"The E-Class consumes 10W per TB. Gemini is even lower at 8W per TB."

Therefore a 10TB E-Class will need 100 watts.

It would be great to know which two flash arrays were tested by this customer who, by the way, bought X-IO's Hyper-ISE box because its price with a 5-year warranty was approximately 33 per cent of the price of the all-flash arrays although it delivered equivalent performance. The moral is, unless you need absolutely the highest performance from your array, think hybrid flash/disk and test the power draw because it may well use less electricity and cost less than a glam flash box.

Lastly there is an EMC snippet. At last week's EMC/VMware/PI analysts extravaganza EMC President and COO David Goulden said new flash-optimised hybrid controllers are coming for VMAX and VNX. We think we hear that a complete rewrite of VMAX' Enginuity and VNX Flare will be needed, because the current code just can't cope with all the I/O a VNX or VMAX with more than 20 per cent or so of flash would generate.

The work is under way, we understand.

That's it for this edition of Silicon Valley Confidential dear readers but never fear; we'll bring you more storage industry gossip, revealing snippets and outrageous details on the QT, and very hush-hush. ®

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