Flash array developer Violin Memory has signed an OEM deal with VMware that could result in its arrays becoming a new high-speed host for applications running in virtual servers.
Under the terms of the agreement, Mountain View, Calif.-based Violin will embed technology from Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMware that would allow VMware's vSphere to run natively on Violin's flash arrays.
The result would be the ability to build appliances on which applications requiring high-performance access to data would run on virtual machines all in the same box, said Ashish Gupta, director of product marketing at Violin.
Those applications include databases, virtualization and even cloud platforms, Gupta said.
Violin's all-flash arrays have inside them two x86 server cards that can be used to embed software functionality, Gupta said. "The primary purpose of our arrays is a storage solution with Fibre Channel or InfiniBand connectivity to server environments," he said. "But with these cards, we can do appliances."
Violin is not the first company to look at the possibility of running business applications in storage devices.
Pat Gelsinger, COO and president of EMC's Information Infrastructure Products division and, as of next month, the new CEO of VMware, told CRN in a recent interview that EMC next year plans to start demonstrating capabilities that allow customers to run virtual machines inside of EMC's storage arrays, all of which are based on industry-standard server hardware.
As EMC in 2013 starts introducing those capabilities in its arrays, it will be pushing the industry to question whether such devices are storage arrays or application servers with a lot of storage next to them, Gelsinger said. "And, we'll redefine how we'll start thinking about the components in the data center in the process," he said at the time.
VMware has already partnered with vendors such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard to ensure those companies' servers can run VMware-based virtualized environments, Gupta said.
"For Violin, our core value proposition is tier-one storage performance unmatched in the market," he said. "We can run over 1 million IOPS in 2U of space. We offer extreme value in virtualized environments where we can help eliminate the performance challenges that applications face."
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