Project Lightning (aka VFCache)

EMC today officially launched VFCache, the project previously known as Lightning

VFCache is a host side PCIe SSD product not totally dissimilar to products from Fusion-io in its mechanical operation, but possessing unification with the rest of the EMC suite of products, adding significant value to this version 1.0 offering, software is key here!

At its heart, VFCache allows IO to occur over the PCIe bus at lightning (no pun) speeds, approaching 4000x the IOps per GB than traditional magnetic media, and about 20x the IOps per GB compared to SSDs.  an amazing catch up step for technology that has remained rather stagnant for the last 20 years (drive IO per GB)

A few important facts about the release that I summarized from Chads blog (Virtual Geek)

  • Software is key, the hardware is inconsequential, but the initial partner vendor is Micron providing a 300GB unit
  • Support for a variety of Dell, Cisco, HP and IBM systems, but no Blades yet
  • Utilization in a VMware environment ties the VM to a local system, removing vMotion benefits
  • Primary use case for v1.0 is extremely high performance requirements, high read cache

Things to look out for, and that are already on the roadmap

  • De-Duped Cache (stealing tech from Avamar, Data Domain and Recoverpoint?)
  • Better integration with Arrays (VNX, VMAX)
  • Distributed Cache (read: VMware clusters operate properly with it?)
  • Bigger models
  • Mezzanine models for blades
  • MLC usage

and this leads ultimately to the evolution of the product line into Project Thunder, another initiative on the cards from EMC that extends VFCache to the network, small 2U or 4U offerings, TB of flash, millions of IO and strong integration with local VFCache systems

Most of the Project Thunder stuff is still under wraps, but it should be a very compelling offering, and an essential piece of larger VDI and heavy IO virtualization strategies, tech preview of this coming Q2 2012, probably at EMC World

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