SolidFire Gets $31M Investment Led By Samsung, Unveils All-Flash Storage Array

All-flash storage array vendor SolidFire on Thursday unveiled a new version of its storage solution that offers the possibility of building an all-SSD storage platform of up to 3.4 PB, and said it will get a helping hand to expand its business through a new round of funding led by SSD supplier Samsung.

That C round of funding will bring SolidFire $31 million to expand sales and marketing as well as support expansion into the enterprise market, said Jay Prassl, vice president of marketing for the Boulder, Colo.-based vendor.

The involvement of Samsung Ventures in the round also brings technical expertise in flash storage as well as a global market reach, Prassl said.

[Related: SSD Shipments To Double This Year, Hit 40 Percent Of Hard Drive Market By 2016 ]

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"Samsung also liked how our technology can expand to consume their latest drives," he said.

That is likely to be the case with SolidFire's newest all-SSD array, the SF9010, which features Samsung's 960-GB SSDs.

However, size is not everything, said Matt Wallace, director of product development at ViaWest, a Denver-based provider of data center services and SolidFire partner with 24 data centers scattered in five Western states.

SolidFire's lineup, which also includes the SF3010 with 300-GB SSDs and the SF6010 with 600-GB SSDs, scales up both in terms of capacity and performance, making it an ideal platform on which to build a high-performance cloud storage practice, Wallace said.

ViaWest uses VMware with CloudStack for building community clouds because of VMware's ability to provide multitenant services with no "noisy neighbor effect." That happens when nothing in the architecture prevents one particular customer from all of a sudden taking the lion's share of resources for a particular process and in the process impacting the performance of other users, Wallace said.

Other flash storage solutions may run faster than SolidFire's SF series, Wallace said. "But they may add to the noisy neighbor effect," he said. "SolidFire guarantees customer SLAs in shared environments."

With storage solutions that do not allow independent scaling of performance and capacity, it is hard to provide the right SLA for applications requiring high IOs per second (IOPs) and relatively small capacities, Wallace said.

"Typically, customers have been put on shared arrays with the ability to scale up performance based on the number of IOPs required," he said. "But if they need thousands of IOPs but only a small capacity, we have had to way over-provision their storage. So they pay a lot more per effective GB of capacity."

NEXT: Independent Scaling Of Performance, Capacity

The fact that the SolidFire arrays scale up on-the-fly both in terms of capacity and performance separately makes it possible to provide those SLAs, ViaWest's Wallace said.

And, since the SF3010 and SF6010 are priced nearly the same on a per-GB basis, he said ViaWest prefers to purchase the smaller models in order to have the extra performance included with each node available for customer use, he said.

"With SolidFire, customers get SSD performance," he said. "But we can also scale up and down the IOPs. And we can provide an SLA because we can offer customers the IOPs they need without worrying about noisy neighbors."

The new SF9010 all-SSD nodes allow customers to build storage architectures of up to 100 nodes with a total capacity of 3.4 petabytes and 7.5 million IOPs. However, SolidFire's Prassl said, no one has ever built out that large an architecture, and that 30 nodes to 40 nodes is the typical max.

The SF 9010, with its maximum capacity of 10 drives, each of which is a 960-GB SSD, provides the capacity and performance needed for cloud services, Prassl said.

"Cloud infrastructures are getting more efficient," he said. "For a 40-TB data set, it may be easier and lower in cost terms to deploy in a shared cloud environment. We are focused on cloud providers and cloud service providers, and on those building large scale private clouds."