Marvell Intros Appliance For Accelerating Storage To Cloud


Marvell DragonFly


Semiconductor manufacturer Marvell Technology Group is branching out into end user-facing products for the first time with its introduction of an adapter for standard servers that accelerates storage for public and private clouds.

And in a break from its usual focus on OEM customers, Marvell is also looking to build its first channel partner base to take its new storage accelerator device to market.

Marvell on Monday unveiled the DragonFly Virtual Storage Accelerator, a storage appliance mounted in a PCIe card which combines hardware and software to help industry-standard servers with commercially-available SSDs to increase the performance of virtual servers, said Shawn Kung, director of storage product marketing for the Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor.

The DragonFly VSA is targeting the bottleneck that develops when multiple virtual servers attempt to access storage, especially storage in public or private clouds, Kung said.

Server virtualization has helped solve issues related to server density, Kung said. However, several virtual servers running applications like Exchange at the same time start creating I/O bottlenecks as the number of virtual servers increases.

"The bottleneck is not the processor or the throughput," he said. "Servers today have enough power. The bottleneck is storage I/O with too many virtual machines trying to read and write to backend storage. As a result, customers can't scale more virtual machines on their servers."

Server customers are turning to SSDs to increase the storage performance of their servers, which are great for random writes to data, Kung said. The problem is, with too many random writes, their performance falls off the cliff, he said.

The DragonFly VSA leverages embedded technology from Marvell that manages a vast number of reads and writes, Kung said. "Those writes are done sequentially, but when so many happen at the same time, they can appear to be random writes. Our technology sequentializes the writes so that there are fewer happening at the same time."

The DragonFly VSA uses two-tier cache to increase storage performance, Kung said. The first tier is non-volatile memory inside the appliance similar to technology the company has been providing its OEM customers, and the second tier is the SSDs installed in the server, he said.

"The result is a much lower application latency and much higher performance," he said. "Customers can reduce the backend I/O to a NAS or SAN by ten times, allowing them to scale the number of virtual machines by the same metric."

Marvell is currently alpha testing the DragonFly VSA with three customers, and this Summer plans to do beta testing, with general availability expected by the end of the year, Kung said. Price is slated to be similar to that of a high-end Fibre Channel storage adaptor, he said.

With the exception of a couple of one-off projects, Marvell has not dealt with the end-user customer products before, Kung said. Because it is still early in the development phase, the company is working direct with its alpha customers, but as production ramps up by the end of the year it plans to be working with solution providers, he said.