EMC starts shipping all-Flash XtremIO storage array

Storage giant prepares to put Flash-based array on general release with limited rollout to select customers.

EMC has confirmed that its XtremIO all-Flash storage array has started shipping to select customers ahead of its general release later this year.

The product has been in development for quite some time, and news of its release comes less than a year since the storage giant acquired Israel-based XtremIO for $430 million.

Before the deal was announced in May 2012, the flash memory-based storage start-up stated on its website that it was planning to ship its first products to customers in the second half of 2012.

The EMC-branded all-Flash storage array features a scale-out architecture that aims to provide a higher level of "functional IOPS" to applications that require high levels of random I/O performance.

Speaking to IT Pro, Richard Gordon, Flash business development manager for EMEA at EMC, said the product would be well-suited to VDI, database consolidation and server virtualisation projects.

"It's the answer for VDI [deployments] at scale, where the IOP requirement overtakes everything else," he said.

"In that type of environment, traditional SAN-based technologies can begin to struggle [which impacts on the user experience], which is why some larger VDI deployments have never made it to production." 

EMC has also announced the release of its Xtrem family of Flash-optimised storage and server products, as well as the introduction of a new line of EMC XtremSF PCIe-based Flash cards.

The latter can be deployed as either direct attached storage (DAS) that sits within a server or coupled with EMC's server caching software to boost the performance of network storage arrays.

The products, coupled with the firm's existing Flash-friendly offerings, should put it ahead of the competition, claimed Gordon.

"If you look at the three quadrants I focus on: direct attached Flash, an all-Flash array, and extreme software cache, EMC is the only one with a presence in all three areas. That differentiates us straight away," he said.

"I can confirm is that our roadmap is being delivered upon in terms of capability and the rollout of the XtremIO platform. I'm really confident in our ability against our competitors."

However, Thomas Kejser, EMEA vice president and CTO at rival Flash storage player Fusion-io, claims EMC still has some way to go to beat its products on performance.

Speaking to IT Pro, he said his firm announced back in January that it had broken through the one billion IOPs barrier using eight HP ProLiant servers kitted out with eight of its Flash-based ioDrive2Duo drives.

"EMC announced that they went over a million IOPs [with its Xtrem SF Flash cards], and we see that as a complete non-event," he said.

"That's a thousand times lower than we announced earlier this year, so they've got a lot of catching up to do."

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