Voltaire ships storage accelerator software

Voltaire Ltd. has announced software designed to transfer data from servers to networked or Flash-based storage at up to 500,000 input-output operations (IOPS) per second.

Voltaire Storage Accelerator can be loaded on to storage servers using the Linux operating system and is designed to transfer data using either 10 Gigabit Ethernet or Infiniband, to Fiber Channel storage gateways.

Chelmsford, Mass.-based Voltaire made the announcement in New York City at the 2010 High Performance Computing Financial Markets conference, organized by Flagg Management Inc.

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Asaf Somekh, Voltaire’s vice-president of marketing, said VSA is already being used by Voltaire customers in Europe, the U.S. and Japan. Essentially, he said, it lets users turn an x86 server into a storage gateway.

Target markets for VSA include financial service firms and vendors providing software using cloud computing.

With VSA, Voltaire says, servers can access remote Fiber Channel storage devices without using either a Fiber Channel host bus adapter or access switch. Voltaire said it can also be used as a storage cache in front of either direct-attached storage or storage-area networking systems.

“We allow customers to take an x86 box and plug in a dozen disks, then put in VSA and Linux,” Somekh said. “You turn it into a monster storage target.”

But Voltaire will need to establish partnerships with server manufacturers to provide integrated offerings, a storage analyst said.

Terri McClure, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., said she’s not sure how many companies will want to buy the server themselves and load the VSA software.

“In general it looks like Voltaire has an interesting approach to solving a problem,” she said. As companies increase server utilization with virtualization, McClure said, the bottlenecks in the data centre get shifted to different areas.

Still, she said, Voltaire’s claim that a storage-server pair can process up to a million IOPS is “really an impressive number.”

When used in a server or gateway configuration, VSA requires an x86 server with a minimum of 6 GB or RAM, though Voltaire recommends 12 GB of RAM. You also need 20 GB of disk space and a 10 Gigabit per second Ethernet card.

VSA works with Linux from either RedHat (5.x or 6.0), CentOS (version 5.x) or Oracle Corp.s’ Oracle Enterprise Linux version 5.x

“We see people taking this into an environment like analytics or business intelligence,”  Somekh said. “It could act as high performance storage for Oracle Exadata.”

Oracle originally announced its Exadata “database machine” two years ago, which is essentially a set of servers designed to store a database. More recently Oracle announced Exadata X2-8.


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Voltaire, whose research and development centre is in Israel, originally specialized in Infiniband products but has since expanded into the 10 Gigabit Ethernet market.

Next month Voltaire plans to ship the Volaire 6048 switch, originally announced at VMware Inc.’s annual VMWorld conference and exhibition.


Voltaire sells both a standard and enterprise edition of VSA, Somekh said, adding the list price is per adapter. So VSA on a server with a single adapter costs US$10,000 for the standard edition and US$20,000 for the enterprise edition, which Somekh said has “more high availability capabiliites.”

VSA can monitor statistics on the network traffic, including bandwidth, latency, IOPS. It also supports mirroring and failover.

“Say you’re building  large data warehouse,” Somekh said. “A storage server with 12 disks is not enough and you build a cluster of eight with 12 disks each.”

You could install VSA on each server and treat it as one cluster, with VSA controlling all the disks in the cluster.

“If you have eight physical servers you will have eight software targets that the initiators are targeting,” he said.

It could come in handy for financial service firms that are required by law to create a log of their transactions, Somekh said.

“They need to write to a disk,” he said. “In many cases it becomes a bottleneck. It slows down the entire system. The customers can’t really afford any slowdown. By taking a couple of VSA based systems they can continue logging at speeds that comply with the speed that they need to do the trade.”

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