EMC initiates Project Lightning, Thunder to follow

The storage giant launches its first Project Lightning product, bringing flash to the server.

EMC today launched VFCache, a flash caching module for servers announced last year under the Project Lightning moniker.

It marks another foray away from the storage array for EMC as it looks to bring its flash expertise to the server space.

Testing showed a three times throughput improvement and a 60 per cent dip in latency, the storage giant claimed.

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If that means bringing storage to the compute makes sense, that's what we'll do. And that's kind of what we're doing with VFCache.

"This is a product that extends EMC's FAST technology into the server. It is a combination of hardware and software, the hardware being a PCIe card, which is a very exciting technology because if really changes the performance landscape it's even faster than flash inside a storage array," Barry Ader, EMC's senior director of storage product marketing, told IT Pro.

"We marry the hardware with some software intelligence that sits inside of the server, the operating environment, to determine exactly what data is hot and make sure we keep the hottest data in the server, closer to the application, closer to the CPU complex."

Data held in the cache is still pushed out to the storage array for added security, Ader said.

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"This is a very nice complement to the VMAX and VMX storage devices," he added.

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"VFCache will work with a variety of servers that are out there. We've qualified this with IBM, Dell, HP and our Cisco UCS partners. We have qualified VFCache with the majority of server vendors that are out there."

VFCache will either be sold to IT departments directly via EMC to line up with the vendor's storage products, or through channel partners, including server and storage companies.

The main competition for EMC in this area will be Fusion-io, which has been pushing out PCIe cards to the industry a few years ago.

"The difference here is that they [Fusion-io] went after the early adopters," Ader asaid. "They sold these cards as DAS [direct-attached storage] cards rather than cache devices. So that caused a lot of problems for their customers.

"Really mainstream customers weren't able to leverage this it didn't solve their scalability, shareability protection problems."

VFCache will also be getting deduplication technology added to it in the coming months.

Thunder coming

EMC also revealed plans for an entirely separate appliance, which will essentially do the same job as VFCache but considerably quicker.

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