SSD array vendor Violin gets $35M in funding

The company is looking to expand distribution channels

In a sign of the times for solid-state drive (SSD) popularity, Violin Memory today announced that it has received $35 million in series B investment funding, lead by top investors Toshiba and Juniper Networks.

To date, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company has garnered a total of $US110 million in investment funding.

"We are aggressively expanding our partnership and distribution capabilities in 2011 and look forward to another record setting year of growth in this large global market," Violin Memory CEO Don Basile said in a statement.

Violin is hardly alone in an industry flush with investment money. In November, Israeli start-up Anobit Technologies, which also makes SSD storage, announced $32 million in new funding. In that case, Intel Capital was among the leading investors.

Toshiba and Intel are leading producers of NAND flash memory, while Juniper supplies networking technology, not only for private corporate data centers but for cloud service providers , too.

As the public cloud expands, solid-state storage will be critical for ensuring service levels, as its I/O throughput far outpaces that of traditional spinning hard disk drives.

Unlike consumer SSD or NAND flash memory, which is also on the rise in mobile devices such as the Macbook Air ultra-portable laptop , Violin's SSD is aimed at data centers.

Violin's arrays scale to 40TB in capacity , and a rack of its SSD modules can hold up to 500TB of data.

Compared to hard disk drive capacity, which on average costs about one-tenth the price of flash memory, Violin's SSD product cost about $16 per GB. So, Violin's products remain targeted at the enterprises' highest performance applications, such as those used in the banking, oil exploration and Internet service provider industries.

For example, last October AOL installed a 50TB storage area network (SAN) from Violin to handle the highest priority data from the six petabytes that the company stores on disk drives.

Like some other enterprise-class flash memory arrays, Violin's product is enhanced with special software that extends the life and performance of the SSDs by caching data on DRAM prior to writing it to the flash memory. Caching addresses the fact data must be erased before it can be written to the same cells in NAND flash.'

"Violin Memory is a true performance leader in high-end silicon storage," R.K. Anand, general manager of Juniper's Data Center Business, said in a statement. "We believe [its] innovative flash Memory Array will play an important role in delivering tiered and near-server storage capabilities to help advance the requirements of cloud computing and network-driven data center consolidation."

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com .

Read more about storage in Computerworld's Storage Topic Center.

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Lucas Mearian

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