Violin Concerto in D (As In Dedupe for VDI, Virtual Servers)

In the sequel (still no Ripley, Alien or even a Predator) to ’s June announcement of  enterprise data services on the Concerto 7000 All Flash Array, the flash storage vendor is unveiling in-line dedupe and compression for and on its . “For and virtual servers, it’s a great use case,” said Violin CMO Eric Herzog. For other applications, like transaction processing, less so, he told IT Trends & Analysis. The dashboard tells users if the dedupe is helping or not, and if not, then they can turn it off, he said.

Virtually every storage vendor is selling all-flash arrays, said Herzog, but to really succeed in the enterprise, you need to provide the sophisticated services currently available on lower-cost disk arrays. Available today – a week before VMworld – Concerto 2200 software for the and features: 672TB in 13RU; effective cost/GB as low as $1.81/GB street ($4.02/GB list); effective cost/desktop as low as $75/desktop street ($166/desktop list); granular control based on application needs; and, NFS ingest.

Earlier this month Violin announced its 6100 all-flash array and the extension of its pay-as-you-grow capacity pricing option, which provides a software license-based capacity expansion option, ‘delivering automatic scaling of capacity without having to order and install additional capacity ahead of real needs.’

Herzog said the 6100 enables the company to reach out to a broader customer and application set. “Smaller enterprises and more focused deployments within large and global enterprises can now benefit from Violin performance, density, and scalability without the upfront investments needed for larger environments.”

There are three reasons for the latest announcement, he said. First it’s just the natural evolution of the product portfolio. Second, people doing VDI in particular like this feature, and they have a lot of customers doing VDI.

Finally, it’s a check-box item. “A lot of guys are out there with dedupe already, and customers are asking when are you going to do it.” He said they may not sell a lot of them based on the dedupe feature, but it’s a great feature to have, and Violin has to have it.

Two weeks ago, when announced its latest all-flash array, the company stated that the high performance array market is reaching the tipping point where flash will replace disk. “Clients are starting to say they are not sure if they will spend any money on high-performance disks moving forward,” said Michael Kuhn, VP of IBM Flash.

According to a new IDC survey of over 1,000 IT storage administrators, the tide is turning in the enterprise adoption of flash-based storage for data center usage. The momentum is being fueled by a combination of significant performance improvements as the technology matures, a broader range of available products, increasing levels of familiarity and comfort with the very real benefits of solid state storage technology, and steadily declining prices.

IDC predicts the all-flash storage array market will be worth $1.2 billion by 2015, while Gartner expects the all flash storage market will be worth $4 billion by 2015. While there has been impressive growth in this segment – the all-flash array segment is growing ten times faster (close to 60% CAGR) than the overall enterprise storage market – it’s still only a fraction of the computer storage market worth $65 billion.

According to Gartner, IBM and Pure Storage were the market leaders for solid-state arrays (or SSA) in 2013. Violin held down third place, while all-flash systems was ranked fourth. However, while flash deployments will form the ‘hot edge’ of storage infrastructure, through 2017, 97% of all storage deployments will still be hard drive based, according to IDC.”

“What we’re seeing in the enterprise is forget about the performance of flash… what we’re seeing at the CIO level… is an economic analysis of how flash fits in the enterprise, said Herzog. Between power, cooling and space savings, he said flash is not expensive at all.

Violin still has a lot of work to do to cash in on the flash cash cow. In July it posted a narrower loss for its first fiscal quarter – $0.35 per share, compared with the prior-year period’s $1.86 loss per share – but also came up short on its revenues. Revenue was $18.1 million, down from $24.8 million in the same quarter last year; analysts were expecting revenues of $23.27 million.

The company also sold its PCIe business around the start of June, picking up $23 million from SK Hynix. ‘Violin got off to a respectable start in PCIe, hitting $5m in quarterly revenue by its third quarter of PCIe sales, but the market is littered with larger competitors and, as a whole, server-side flash products have attracted scant attention from enterprise buyers,’ noted analyst Scott Denne, 451 Group. ‘Considering the market traction for server-side flash, it makes sense that Violin would jettison that business.’

Moving forward, the company will continue to focus on its software portfolio, as well as embracing the channel to expand its market reach both here and abroad. In addition, another set of product announcements are due out next quarter, said Herzog.


Author: Steve Wexler

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