A partnership between Microsoft and Violin Memory will let enterprises tightly tie a new all-flash storage array to their servers, speeding up popular Microsoft applications.
Violin’s Windows Flash Array, introduced on Tuesday, is a version of the company’s 64TB storage array that’s been modified to run Windows Storage Server 2012 R2. The system has more powerful blade servers and network interface cards than the standard array, but the star of the show is the Microsoft storage software, which Violin integrated into its system through joint coding modifications with Microsoft, said Eric Herzog, Violin’s chief marketing officer.
Windows Storage Server is essentially a server operating system designed for use in external storage platforms. But the joint software development between Violin and Microsoft yielded an additional benefit: The companies included RDMA (Remote Direct Memory Access) and SMB (Server Message Block) Direct on the flash array, allowing it to deliver data right into the memory of Windows application servers, Herzog said. That’s a faster way to get data where it needs to be for use in Microsoft applications. It also saves compute cycles on the app server’s CPU that would otherwise be tied up bringing bits into memory from the external storage.
“Instead of the app servers moving data back and forth, the storage moves it back and forth over the SMB protocol,” Herzog said.
Violin’s beta tests so far have shown performance gains for Hyper-V, Microsoft VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) and SQL Server, Herzog said. Other Microsoft applications should benefit, too, he said.
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