NetApp Teams with Texas Memory Systems on Flash

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Network Appliance has partnered with Texas Memory Systems to certify interoperability between its V-series open storage controller and TMS’ RamSan-500 solid-state disk. The move is designed to allow solution providers to boost customers’ storage performance and simplify data management.

Network Appliance has partnered with Texas Memory Systems to certify interoperability between its V-series open storage controller and TMS’ RamSan-500 solid-state disk, allowing solution providers to boost customers’ storage performance and simplify data management.

“IT departments are under unprecedented pressure to boost performance and leverage their existing storage architecture,” says Woody Hutsell, executive vice president at Texas Memory Systems, and SSD technology is one way customers can achieve those objectives.

Until late in 2007, TMS’ products were mainly RAM-based, which was expensive, but provided fast performance, says Hutsell. As flash SSD technology became more popular in consumer electronics such as the iPhone, Hutsell says there was a need to integrate flash SSD technology into hard disk form factors for use in laptops, servers and enterprise storage hardware.

Regardless of its affordability and relative speed improvements over traditional hard disks, Hutsell says flash does have its drawbacks.

“Flash isn’t optimal in many ways. It’s slower than RAM, its performance can degrade slightly over time, and it’s not easily scalable for increased capacity. But overall, for customers, it’s much faster than a hard drive, and if your focus is on performance rather than sheer storage space, it’s a winner,” Hutsell says.

Despite the solution’s focus on performance above capacity, Hutsell says that doesn’t exclude the solution from being used by enterprise customers as well as in the midmarket and among SMBs.

“This is not necessarily just for the midmarket and SMBs—we have a number of Stock Exchange customers who use the RamSan-500 to run a number of smaller databases in addition to the major database that’s running their company,” he says.

And the RamSan-500 can create up to 4 terabytes of capacity, which isn’t anything to sneeze at, says Hutsell.

TMS, with its RamSan-500, which it introduced in late 2007, made flash technology cost-effective for the enterprise by introducing a product that was, in essence, RAID for the flash module, says Hutsell.

Priced to fall between inexpensive RAID and exorbitant RAM-based SSDs, Hutsell says the RamSan-500 can replace massive RAID installations that customers build to generate increased performance. A single RamSan-500 can deliver performance that’s roughly equal to that of a hard-disk-based RAID system with hundreds of disks, while consuming only 300 watts of power. Hutsell adds that the RamSan-500 can replace an entire rack of storage hardware in a form factor that’s only 4U tall, saving customers money on hardware, physical space and energy costs.

Despite the RamSan-500’s higher price tag, it delivers much greater performance and much lower energy usage that justifies its cost, he claims.

Ensuring interoperability between the RamSan-500 and the V-Series allows solution providers to accelerate customers’ applications and extend legacy storage life cycles, since the products can now integrate seamlessly into existing SAN (storage area network) and NAS (network-attached storage) deployments, Hutsell says.

NetApp’s V-Series storage controller and integrated Data ONTAP software streamline data consolidation and virtualization to further simplify management and increase capacity utilisation. Administrators can use the V-Series to easily partition networks and storage, including the RamSan-500. The V-Series’ thin-provisioning and deduplication capabilities also further reduce costs, says Hutsell.

Currently, about 10 joint customers are working with the solution in a pilot phase, says Hutsell. He says both NetApp and TMS customers were clamoring for the solution, and he expects a rapid adoption rate once it is more widely available.

“There are great opportunities for TMS and NetApp resellers to work either together to bring these solutions to customers, or for one reseller to bring both solutions to the customer’s table,” says Hutsell.