EMC Releases PCIe SSD Server Caching Solution As Consumer Space Beckons For Competition

EMC VFCache Signifies a New Era for Enterprise Flash Technology”Makes Leap from Storage to Server

Together, EMC VFCache and EMC Storage Bring PCIe Flash Benefits to Mainstream Mission Critical Applications”Delivers Lightning-Fast Performance, Intelligence and Enterprise-Class Protection



Katryn McGaughey

News Summary

  • EMC delivers VFCache , formerly known as “Project Lightning,” a new hardware and software solution leveraging PCIe Flash technology and intelligent caching software that dramatically increases throughput and reduces latency.
  • The powerful combination of EMC Flash-enabled enterprise storage arrays with VFCache extends the benefits of PCIe Flash technology from edge case social media and Internet to mainstream applications. Testing in mission critical database environments (such as Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle) showed up-to 3X throughput improvement and 60% reduction in latency.
  • VFCache extends a new “high performance” tier of storage into the server, integrating with and leveraging the benefits of intelligent EMC FAST (Fully Automated Storage Tiering) technology.
  • New VFCache extends the protection benefits of EMC’s market-leading Symmetrix VMAX , Symmetrix VMAXe , EMC VNX  and EMC VNXe  Flash-enabled storage arrays into the server, delivering advanced data services including high availability, integrity, reliability and disaster recovery.
  • EMC is previewing “Project Thunder,” a purpose-built, low-latency, server networked Flash-based appliance that is scalable, serviceable, and shareable. Designed for real-world applications, “Project Thunder” will deliver I/Os measured in millions and timed in microseconds.

Full Story

Hopkinton, MA”February 6, 2012”EMC Corporation (NYSE: EMC ) today introduced EMC VFCache, a new server Flash caching solution. Together, VFCache and EMC Flash-enabled storage systems dramatically improve application performance by leveraging intelligent software and PCIe Flash technology”testing resulted in up-to 3X increased throughput while reducing latency by 60%. With today’s announcement, EMC is extending Flash technology to the server and evolving the benefits of PCIe Flash technology from edge case social media and internet to mainstream mission critical applications such as Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP. Now databases (CRP, ERM), OLTP, email, Web, and reporting”any read-intensive workloads with cacheable working sets”can benefit from the powerful performance benefits of PCIe Flash.

VFCache combined with VMAX VMAXe VNX and VNXe storage delivers turbocharged performance with the protection (high availability, data integrity, reliability, and disaster recovery) for which EMC storage is trusted around the world. While VFCache is the next evolutionary step of EMC’s Flash strategy”requiring no disruption to customers’ existing storage architectures”it delivers revolutionary benefits.

VFCache is the latest in a line of enterprise Flash innovation firsts, beginning in 2008 when EMC was the first to integrate Flash drives into an enterprise storage array. Putting Flash drives into the storage array achieved an order of magnitude better performance”300X faster data access than 15K HDD.  Now, placing Flash technology in the server on a PCIe card can accelerate performance up-to another order of magnitude”4000X faster data access than 15K HDD.

Coming in the next year, EMC will add deduplication technology to VFCache, enabling customers to achieve even more efficiency from Flash technology. Additional Flash capacity and form factors will also be supported. VFCache will also more deeply integrate with EMC storage management technologies, and additional integration with FAST architecture. EMC’s vision for VFCache is delivering the industry’s most comprehensive, efficient and intelligent I/O path from the application to the data store. The result will be a networked infrastructure that is dynamically optimized for performance, intelligence, and protection for both physical and virtual environments.

EMC VFCache Technology Benefits
  • Turbocharged Performance: VFCache is the fastest PCIe server Flash caching solution available today. VFCache resides in the server, eliminating the need for hot data to travel through the network to the storage array”boosting throughput performance in some cases up-to 3X and reducing latency by 60%. EMC is offering the industry’s best architecture”the PCIe Flash cards deliver better throughput and response, while using four times less CPU and memory resources than competing solutions.
  • Automated Intelligence: VFCache is enabling a new tier of high performance storage in the server. VFCache extends the EMC FAST architecture to facilitate an intelligent end-to-end data tiering and caching strategy from the storage to the server. EMC ‘s focus on enabling customers to exploit the cost and performance benefits of FAST technology has catapulted EMC ‘s leadership in enterprise Flash ( see related announcement ).
  • Enterprise-Class Protection: VFCache enables customers to benefit from total protection with “write-through caching” to the storage array. When data is written to VMAX, VMAXe, VNX or VNXe storage, customers have the confidence of knowing data is protected by the industry’s highest availability storage with data integrity, data reliability and disaster recovery. The information remains shareable and scalable”without any stranded storage.

EMC also plans an early customer access program for “Project Thunder” in the second quarter of 2012. “Project Thunder,” optimized for high-frequency, low-latency read/write workloads, will build upon the advanced PCIe technology delivered in VFCache to leverage the power of Flash through a dedicated server networked Flash-based appliance.

Customer Quotes:

Frank W. Smith, Senior IT Infrastructure Manager, PPG Industries.
PPG Industries manufactures coatings and specialty products for the construction, consumer products, industrial and transportation markets. Putting Flash in the server was an easy decision for us. We know that the closer data on Flash is to an application, the better it will perform. However, we need more than just crazy fast I/O. Our data is the lifeblood of our operations, so we require a solution we can count on to protect our mission critical data while adding performance . That is why we chose EMC VFCache for our Oracle environment, which complements our Symmetrix VMAX storage running FAST VP. With EMC , we get performance with protection”crazy fast I/O coupled with EMC ‘s trusted networked storage. There is no other solution on the market today that comes close to offering VFCache’s comprehensive performance, intelligence, and protection.”

Craig VanHuss, IS Manager, Enterprise Systems, Crutchfield Corp
“Crutchfield Corporation is a leading catalog and Internet retailer of consumer electronics products. We’ve been impressed with the performance and efficiency benefits of Flash drives and FAST Suite in our Microsoft SQL database environment, responsible for hosting www.crutchfield.com . After being introduced to EMC VFCache, we started thinking about the performance benefits of having data on Flash drives that are even closer to our SQL application”the closer to the application, the better it will perform. The potential performance benefits got us really excited. Deploying VFCache together with our Flash-enabled VNX running SQL would enable Crutchfield to protect our mission critical data while adding insanely fast performance.”

Brian Carpenter, Vice President of Information Technology, Heritage Auctions
“Heritage Auctions ( HA.com ) is the largest collectibles auctioneer, and third largest auction house in the world. All of our data resides on EMC storage, which is the backbone of our mission critical Microsoft SQL Server environment. Using Symmetrix VMAXe with FAST VP enables us to leverage Flash drives to increase performance for faster response time to bidders. VFCache means we can extend the intelligence of FAST into the server”providing unparalleled response to our bidders.”

Industry Analyst Quote:

Dave Vellante, Chief Analyst, Wikibon.org
” EMC landed a haymaker in 2008 when it introduced Flash into Symmetrix VMAX arrays and set the precedent for maximizing Flash technology in storage arrays. In 2012 we’re seeing the extension of the storage hierarchy where flash is being managed from the server all the way through to the spinning disk array. An important development is software that intelligently places data at the most appropriate location in this emerging storage hierarchy. Combined with FAST, EMC VFCache is a leading example of this trend coming to market as a solution.”

EMC Executive Quote:

Pat Gelsinger, President and Chief Operating Office, EMC Information Infrastructure Products
“EMC identified very early on that Flash technology would change the industry forever, and became the first to bring Flash to enterprise storage. With today’s announcement, EMC also becomes the first to implement PCIe Flash in a way that ensures mission critical applications reach new levels of performance, at the right cost, and with the level of protection and intelligence that customers demand.”

Technology Partner Quotes:

Jason Nolet, Vice President, Data Center and Enterprise Networking , Brocade
“EMC and Brocade have a long-standing relationship in the delivery of high-performance, highly resilient data center solutions. The deployment of EMC VFCache and FAST storage tiering technology will better enable customers to gain the businesses efficiencies of Flash with the confidence that their data is fully protected throughout its information lifecycle. Brocade fabric-based networks, which feature industry-leading performance and built-in resiliency, are a natural connectivity choice for EMCs new offering.”

Satinder Sethi, Vice President, Data Center Solutions, Server Access and Virtualization Technology Group, Cisco
“EMC VFCache extends the benefits of Flash storage into the computing system to dramatically improve application performance. VFCache complements the high density of the Cisco UCS platform to deliver higher performance computing needed in a virtualized data center environment and to support big data and business analytics applications.”

Eugene Saburi, General Manager, SQL Server Product Marketing, Microsoft Corporation
‘SQL Server customers who are looking to increase caching and storage performance can now take advantage of recent innovations in enterprise Flash technology. By extending PCIe flash caching technology to the server with VFCache”and putting data even closer the application”EMC is aiming to supercharge performance. EMC VFCache with SQL Server has the potential to boost caching and storage performance, while maintaining enterprise-class data protection.’

Raghu Raghuram, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Cloud Infrastructure and Management, VMware
“Our customers are focused on simplifying management for the cloud. With VFCache EMC is extending its expertise in information management and exploiting the benefits of Flash directly to the server”whether in a physical or virtual environment. VFCache coupled with VMware cloud infrastructure and EMC storage can deliver heightened levels of performance with data protection, easing our customers’ journey to transform their IT infrastructures.”

Channel Partner Quotes:

Jamie Shepard, Executive Vice President, Technology Solutions, International Computerware, Inc
“VFCache is a brilliant addition to EMC’s already comprehensive, Flash-optimized portfolio. VFCache will deliver a performance boost unmatched in the industry today”and with the protection our customers have come to expect from EMC storage. This new solution will change application performance as we know it today.”

Keith Norbie, Vice President, Nexus
“VFCache allows Nexus to provide our clients with a unique performance AND protection blend”while leveraging the benefits of EMC’s Flash optimized storage arrays. What our clients will gain in performance and protection is complemented with the intelligence of EMC’s unique automated storage tiering technology through EMC FAST. VFCache will help us satisfy the performance boost requirements, protection needs and automated intelligence for our customers with mission critical, hybrid cloud environments.”

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