"EMC is defining the playing field in an area that really suits them," Peters said.
Startups and other mainstream storage vendors, including NetApp and IBM (through its Texas Memory Systems buyout) are also moving into all-flash arrays. But EMC's entry puts critical mass behind the market, Peters said. "The story of the joy of flash is going to be told more aggressively ... than it was before," Peters said.
XtremIO will allow CMA Consulting Services to more easily build Oracle rack clusters with storage for its clients in health care and human services, said Brian Dougherty, CMA's chief architect. The Oracle clusters include Linux servers, InfiniBand interconnects and storage.
"Traditionally, the storage nodes, for us, have been more of the monolithic, larger storage arrays that we would configure and pre-deliver. But now the storage node for us will be the XtremIO X-Brick," Dougherty said. The X-Brick can deliver the same capacity and performance in far less space and be scaled out in the same linear way as the computing element, making for easier expansion, he said. Using all flash is more expensive, but the savings in build time, rack space and power more than make up for that, he said.
What Dougherty still wants to see is more density, coming in the 20TB array next year, and software for continuously replicating to a peer XtremIO cluster at a disaster-recovery site.
The XtremIO system will be generally available beginning next Tuesday. It took this long to reach the general market because EMC bought the technology in progress and had to finish it, Goldstein said. Shipping an EMC product also takes more preparation than putting out gear from a startup, he said, speaking from the experience of having worked at several startups, including XtremIO. Manufacturing capacity, quality assurance and channel training are all parts of the process, he said.
Emerging from under the temporary moniker Project X in March, the XtremIO system was released in April under "directed availability," in which EMC qualified the customers that wanted to buy it. Hundreds of these IT shops have deployed XtremIO arrays in production environments, Goldstein said.
Enterprises have already been able to deploy some EMC arrays, including the latest version of its VNX platform, entirely with flash storage. But the VNX is designed as a hybrid system. XtremIO is the high end of EMC's arrays in terms of performance, intended for enterprises with highly demanding applications such as virtual desktops and online transaction processing. EMC would not disclose pricing.
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