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February 28, 2013

Violin Memory beats EMC in flash array deal

Finsphere says flash storage reduced cost per IOP by nine times

By Jason Stamper

Flash storage array vendor Violin Memory announced a new customer in the shape of Finsphere, a provider of identity authentication services to global financial institutions. Finsphere told CBR it also looked at flash arrays from EMC before settling on Violin Memory.

Finsphere told us it required very low latency from its storage as its business expanded to include predictive analytics. Replacing a more traditional SAN storage infrastructure with the flash array gave it a 28x higher throughput, 2.7x quicker response times, and almost 22x more IOPs, while also lowering cost. Cost per IOP dropped from £8.88 to £1.03 in the UK-based data centre.

Mary Reeder, chief technology officer of Finsphere, told CBR, "We brought Violin Memory in to benchmark the performance and to our surprise it met or exceeded everything Violin Memory had told us it would. We even had to create a specific tip-over test because we couldn’t previously generate enough load in our test environment to get it to fall over."

Reeder said that the firm does not need very large data capacities, but it does need very low latency as it helps large financial services firms spot security issues, for example if a card user uses their card in a different country to where their mobile phone is being used. Finsphere’s card protection solution leverages both financial data and telecom (mobile geo-location) data to verify the identity of the card user.

Reeder said the firm could not be more pleased with the new flash array. "The performance is outstanding, and more than meets the demands of high-volume transaction processing environments like ours," she said. Specifically, response times were reduced from 4.52ms to 1.67ms.

Finsphere is using a single Violin Flash Memory Array in its UK data centre – redundancy is provided for within the array. The company told me as business picks up in the US it is highly likely to buy more Violin Memory arrays for its US data centre, too.

But don’t flash drives deteriorate faster than more traditional disk, giving a shorter mean time between failure? "We had heard about that, but the rate at which we depreciate equipment over three years means we are very comfortable with longevity. Even if they don’t last as long as disk, which we’re not even acknowledging is necessarily the case, we’re not worried about down time," Reeder said.

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Other competitors to Violin Memory in the flash space include Nimbus, Coraid and Whiptail.

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