Toshiba, Juniper Invest In Flash-Based Array Vendor Violin Memory


Flash-based array developer Violin Memory on Monday said it received $35 million in a new round of venture funding which included participation from memory maker Toshiba America Electronic Components and networking giant Juniper Networks.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Violin's primary product line is a series of solid-state storage arrays built using SLC NAND Flash memory in capacities of up to 10 TBs in a 3U form factor. The company in November unveiled a new vCACHE cache appliance specifically for file-based data based on its solid-state storage array technology.

With the new Series B funding round, investors have poured a total of over $110 million into Violin, said CEO Don Basile.

Toshiba America Electronic Components (TAEC) was the lead investor in Violin's last round, which in April netted the company $20 million

Violin plans to use the new investment to fuel company growth, Basile said. That will include investing in its U.S. and global channel partners, and an extension of its product line over the next four to five months, he said.

The investment from Juniper comes as a recognition of the importance of Flash-based memory as a storage medium as customers look to decrease the latency of their data center networking infrastructure in preparation for adopting private and public cloud computing, Basile said.

For that, Basile thanked Larry Ellison, Oracle's chairman and CEO, who in December unveiled that company's high-performance SPARC Supercluster server as a building block for cloud computing.

Cloud computing today depends primarily on server performance, with the storage and networking components struggling to keep up, Basile said.

"But memory-based storage will become the norm for cloud computing," he said. "Larry Ellison said the data center will be composed of Flash and tape. We believe all the active parts of the data center will be based on Flash, because it allows customers the quality of service they need with SLAs (service level agreements) not available today."

Juniper's interest in Violin stems from the need to decrease the performance latency of storage and networking compared to servers, Basile said.

By using memory-based arrays instead of external storage arrays, customers get extremely low latency, allowing them to take advantage of data center networking fabrics to increase performance, he said. Also, random I/O works much better on Flash memory-based arrays compared to hard disk because tasks can be spread across multiple systems.

"This leads to the advantage for companies that can create low-latency networking, and Juniper is a leader in this field," he said.