Violin Windows Flash Array debuts

Need screaming-fast Windows server performance? A new, integrated all-flash array with Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 integrated on board promises just that. Here's what you need to know.

Need screaming-fast Windows server performance? A new, integrated all-flash array with Windows server on board promises just that. Here's what you need to know.

Violin Memory today announced the Violin Windows Flash Array (WFA). The array integrates Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 with Violin's enterprise-class array, the force behind several of the best TPC-C results ever recorded.

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 8.12.12 AM
Graphics courtesy of Violin Memory, Inc.


The Windows Flash Array enables SQL Server, Microsoft SharePoint, and Windows Server with Hyper-V virtualized applications, to achieve enterprise levels of performance. Bill Laing, a corporate VP at Microsoft, says:

Microsoft technologies, such as Windows Server, SQL Server, and Microsoft SharePoint, are already adopted by enterprises worldwide and growing dramatically. By jointly developing this highly integrated solution with Violin Memory, we are working together to provide enterprise and cloud customers with dramatically improved performance, scalability, and economics for their Windows applications - virtualized, physical, and cloud.

The WFA is a tightly integrated combination of Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 and Violin’s array into a single product that delivers high performance all-flash array storage. How high?

According to TPC-C benchmarks the Violin array offers flash performance with among the lowest maximum latency of any flash array. When the array gets busy, work doesn't slow down. (I did a video white paper on Violin's architecture for those who want to know more.)

With Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 embedded into the Windows Flash Array, users get features including thin provisioning, data deduplication, scalability, and encryption along with space efficient snapshots and continuous availability, through Windows failover clustering. The much faster SMB v3 - with SMB Direct and RDMA - is also standard.

The Storage Bits take
If Windows server is an important part of your infrastructure the WFA is a worth a look. Integrating WSS 2012 on the array gives you Windows storage services and management on an extremely fast and robust array.

Microsoft appears to be taking this seriously, which too often isn't the case. They put hooks in the kernel to the Violin array to take full advantage of SMB 3.0's performance enhancements.

With Cisco adding flash to UCS and EMC's XtremeIO coming to market, high-end flash arrays are the coming thing. By building WSS into the WFA, Microsoft has a powerful tool to increase enterprise share.

Comments welcome. How would you use the WFA in your enterprise? [Disclosure: I've been a fan of Violin's architecture for years, done work for the company and bought stock in the company after its recent price crash.]


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