SanDisk enhances solid state caching software, unveils new bundles

Nine separate bundles across the Windows, VMware and Linux platforms give SanDisk a broad range of "device+software” solutions for server-side solid-state caching.

Rich Petersen SanDisk 300

Rich Petersen, Director of Marketing, Software Solutions, at SanDisk

SanDisk has enhanced the enterprise side of its portfolio with the latest version of its FlashSoft server-side solid state caching software. In addition to these enhancements, SanDisk has announced a large selection of bundles which provide what the company considers to be the broadest collection of device+software” solutions for server-side solid-state caching in the industry.

“Before we acquired FusionIO, they combined their software and PCIe card into ioMemory2, which partners loved, and their partners were concerned when we acquired them that this bundle would go away,” said Rich Petersen, Director of Marketing, Software Solutions, at SanDisk. “They liked this bundle, but it was just one form factor. We can now put the updated software on a range of devices, with a much broader range of form factors. This gives partners and customers a lot more choice.”

SanDisk’s enterprise solutions side still labours in the shadow of a retail-focused consumer side on which the company built up its original business. SanDisk had no enterprise presence at all until its May 2011 acquisition of Pliant Technology, which literally became SanDisk’s Enterprise Storage Solutions business. The enterprise side received a major boost last summer, when SanDisk completed the acquisition of Fusion-io.

“We can’t change the perception of a consumer/prosumer side that has done a fabulous job,” Petersen said. “We are lucky we have that recognizable name, but sometimes it is tough to highlight what’s going on in the enterprise side. The acquisition of Fusion-io has been a big help there, because it changed the character of our enterprise portfolio and our enterprise go-to-market strategy. Our enterprise business is taking off with the IO Accelerator developed originally by Fusion IO.”

Last year, SanDisk entered into an OEM deal with Dell for the IO Accelerator software, which Dell brands as the Dell Application Accelerator for Database.

“We have benefited significantly from this OEM relationship with Dell,” Petersen said. ‘Our OEM business as a whole is quite strong. A lot of people get SanDisk devices in their arrays or devices and don’t even know it.”

Petersen said that the InfiniFlash flash array, which SanDisk introduced last month in its first foray into that segment, will go to market mainly through OEM partnerships as well.

“It is a new category, and the primary customers are doing things with Big Data or web services that are cutting edge,” he said. “As it goes more mainstream, our go-to-market will be mainly through OEM partnerships.”

SanDisk’s own brand in the enterprise still needs work, however.

“In terms of our enterprise branding, is SanDisk a brand that people will call Arrow and Avnet for and ask specifically for us?,” Petersen said. “No, it’s not, and we need to build a stronger brand there.”

The new bundles, which combine SanDisk’s caching software with its PCIe application accelerators and SAS and SATA solid-state drives, are intended to help do that.

“Caching inside the server is not the only way to deal with the IO bottleneck, but we believe it is probably the most economical and last disruptive way,” Petersen said. “We have a breadth of SSD device offerings we can combine in the bundles, including a full breadth of OS coverage, including  Linux, vSphere, and Hyper-V. The bundles are also exciting because they give the end customer a relatively easy to adopt solution. The price point is economical, and they have the advantage of dealing with a single vendor.”

Three of the twelve bundles are for Windows Server. They are: FlashSoft for Windows with Fusion ioMemory PCIe application accelerators; FlashSoft for Windows with Optimus Ascend SAS SSDs for stand-alone Windows Servers or Hyper-V implementations; andFlashSoft for Windows with CloudSpeed Ascend SATA SSDs,

Three of the new offerings are for VMware vSphere. They are: FlashSoft for VMware vSphere with Fusion ioMemory PCIe application accelerators; FlashSoft for VMware vSphere with Optimus 2 Ascend SAS SSDs; and FlashSoft for VMware vSphere with CloudSpeed Ascend SATA SSDs.

Finally, three are Linux Offerings: FlashSoft for Linux with Fusion ioMemory PCIe application accelerators; FlashSoft for Linux with Optimus Ascend SAS SSDs; and FlashSoft for Linux with CloudSpeed Ascend SATA.

“The biggest drawback we face here is a lack of knowledge among people that they can do this with their servers,” Petersen said. “The channel can educate customers this is something they can do, which improves application performance and extends the life of their servers.”

The latest version of SanDisk’s FlashSoft software, also announced, enhances support for VMware and Linux environments, but the Windows enhancements may be the most significant.

“A lot of Windows users wanted better support for HyperV, and we delivered on this,” Petersen said. This includes support for Microsoft failover clustering, which they are pursuing aggressively. The enhancements here assures Windows admins this is ready for prime time.” Hyper-V support was also enhanced through native support for hard disk drives and SSDs formatted with 4K sector size as well as 512K.

That same HDD and SSD support has been extended to Linux. FlashSoft now also has broad support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and SUSE kernels.

For VMware vSphere, SanDisk has now been certified by VMware as a Partner Verified & Supported Product (PVSP), assuring customers that their software investment will have continued support and compatibility with vSphere as new patches and updates are released.