PernixData: the Cache Area Network

PernixData is a startup, founded by two former VMware employees, that came out from stealth mode a few days ago. The company is working on a SSD storage solution for VMware.

The idea is simple and brilliant at the same time: moving the flash memory (SSDs) into the x86 servers of your VMware cluster and use it as a (R/W) distributed cache, in practice they are proposing a “cache area network”. This approach has many potential advantages in terms of better latencies (tens of microseconds instead of around 1 millisecond), IOPS (tens of thousands of IOPS managed by each server) and costs (you can easily find a 1TB flash card for 4500€ now).

diagram_big3Actually this isn’t news, many vendors are working on it (e.g. Dell is working on a similar solution with the acquired RNA networks and EMC has a VFcache roadmap that is going in that direction), but this is the first product to do this independently from the array (or the flash manufacturer) and with the kind of features you can expect at the enterprise level.

The information on their website is really scarce at the moment but I already love them: primarily because in their site there isn’t no mention about the “Software Defined Storage” and then because they are doing something that is potentially disruptive!

Bottom line

It’s early to tell if they will succeed but it’s clear that the idea has a great potential and they are doing something that end users will like very much.

It’s also early to predict if “cache area network” will be a market or just a feature… but I’m sure that we will see a lot of similar solutions in the near future. (e.g. Few months ago, Virsto showed an interesting proof of concept of their solution with flash into the servers!)