I couldn’t resist the pun in the title – it was either this one or "Violin orchestrates its next step!"
Anyhow, Violin just made two separate – albeit closely linked – announcements. I don’t usually comment too much on individual products but what’s happened is significant for the market as well as Violin so I figured a few lines are worthwhile. So, the news (in case you missed it) is this: first, Violin has extended its involvement with Toshiba into a formal IP-sharing partnership alliance; second, the first offspring of this new relationship is a series of server-based PCIe flash cards that Violin calls ‘Velocity’ and refers to (this is perhaps a semantic and philosophical discussion for another day…) as memory. So far, so good. What’s the significance?
- For Violin – this is a move away from where it started (and, let’s be clear, will still play) which was in flash arrays/appliances attached to servers, whereas this is flash storage in servers. This is both an offensive and a defensive play as there is increasing competition from a wide variety of both large and small vendors in the flash space, and Violin wants to address/drive as large a percentage of this nascent and dynamic market as possible…partly because it makes prima facia business sense and partly because it has a great deal of money invested (over $230M since 2009). These new Velocity cards range in list price from $3/GB to $6/GB which is certainly going to garner some [positive] attention, as it clearly highlights that flash is becoming more affordable, and more 'normal.'
- For the market – Violin’s move suggests that a range of solid-state types and implementations has value to users and is likely to become the norm. The clear and early leader for server-based flash, FusionIO, has itself made significant strides of late to offer different flash deployment styles and packaging. Violin’s price model also shows that ‘price matters’ – while that may seem like something of a "no shit, Sherlock" type of comment, it is actually evidence of something else - the move of flash away from just price-[mainly]-insensitive performance-centric applications, and to more price-sensitive ‘regular’ workloads.