April 22nd, 2014 by Lyle Smith
Violin Memory's Windows Flash Array Now Generally Available
Violin Memory has announced the general availability of the Windows Flash Array (WFA), which was jointly developed with Microsoft. The Violin WFA is the industry’s first all-flash high-performance storage array powered by Windows Storage Server 2012 R2, providing feature-rich functionality and data services for the enterprise. With its impressive speed and efficiency, Windows Flash Array transforms datacenters by significantly reducing server overhead as well as application response times through improved storage performance which fundamentally alters the cost structure of enterprise applications.
The WFA integrates very closely with a combination of Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 and Violin’s hardware and software into one solution, offering a high performance all-flash array storage for enterprise and cloud customers. Users will also benefit from the reliable storage features of Windows Storage Server 2012 R2, which are embedded into the Windows All Flash Array via two compute blades. This includes thin provisioning, data deduplication, scalability, and encryption as well as space efficient snapshots and continuous availability using Windows failover clustering. Additionally on the software side, the WFA enables popular enterprise workloads including SQL Server, Microsoft SharePoint, and Windows Server with Hyper-V virtualized applications, to meet any demands set by global enterprises.
Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 has improved greatly on its efficiency and feature set, providing a new way to connect external storage and performing like fast local storage. The Server Message Block (SMB) Direct protocol is enabled by remote direct memory access (RDMA), which makes it a compelling enterprise-class storage alternative to traditional SANs. Testing by Microsoft shows that SMB Direct can reduce CPU overhead by up to 30 percent, all the while delivering a higher performance--and less expensive--storage that is easy to administer through native Windows Server management tools.
Driven by Performance
Customers that are beta testing the Violin WFA with 2012 SQL Server are indicating that the WFA delivers has the capability to deliver up to 2 times the write performance and up to 50 percent higher read performance when compared to an industry standard all-flash array connected through Fibre Channel.
In Hyper-V environments, WFA achieved over 40 percent higher in write performance during customer beta tests. With this improved storage performance, enterprises can increase host server virtual machine density, strengthening their virtualization ROI and reducing CAPEX.
The net result is a significant reduction in compute and storage expense, while meeting the most demanding application SLAs with orders of substantial improvement in response times. WFA is the first end-to-end continuously available, high performance All-Flash Windows Storage Server Array for the enterprise market.
The Violin WFA comes in a 64TB capacity per node and can be configured in 4-node groups for a total of 256TB. The WFA begins shipping immediately through Violin and their channel partners with a list price of $695,000.