EMC Expands Flash Portfolio With ScaleIO Acquisition

ScaleIO brings server-side flash storage software to EMC’s larger flash-based data center offerings.

EMC is looking to build out its flash portfolio by adding startup ScaleIO's server-side storage software.

The storage giant announced July 11 that it is buying the 2-year-old ScaleIO, whose software-only Elastic Converged Storage (ECS) solution enables organizations to pool flash resources across high numbers of servers. The software can converge solid-state disks (SSDs), hard disk drives and PCIe-based flash cards to create virtual storage-area networks (SANs).

No financial details about the deal were released. ScaleIO will be folded into EMC's Flash Products Division, with its ECS software becoming part of EMC's XtremSW Suite, which is used to manage flash in the data center.

ScaleIO's ECS can scale to thousands of nodes, with the performance scaling with the number of application servers and disks, according to company officials. Servers and capacity can be added, moved or removed on demand during I/O operations, they said. The software supports most Linux distributions and virtualization hypervisors, and works with any SSD, HDD and network. It will work in both virtualized and nonvirtualized environments.

"The beauty of ScaleIO is that it takes a software-only approach to managing SSDs, PCIe Flash cards, HDDs—or any combination of these—within the server," Zahid Hussein, senior vice president and general manager of EMC's Flash Products Division, said in a July 11 post on the company blog. "Over time we will build in additional enterprise features so that advanced data services can be delivered irrespective of the underlying hardware. This is the essence of delivering an XtremSW Suite that manages Flash across an entire data center."

EMC unveiled the XtremSW Suite in March to enable organizations to better use and manage their server-based PCIe flash storage. The software suite came from EMC's $425 million acquisition last year of XtremeIO.

EMC officials said the ScaleIO acquisition is part of a larger effort through the Xtrem family of products to enable organizations to deploy flash throughout their server and storage infrastructures, with XtremSF PCIe cards, the XtremSW Suite and all-flash storage arrays.

"With ECS as the foundation, EMC can build out a scale-out server stack for a wide variety of use cases like VDI, virtualization, databases, and HPC … in several target markets," EMC's Hussein said. "For example, we can provide elastic, dynamic and flexible Flash storage to service provider partners who provide public cloud to their customers."

David Goulden, EMC president and chief operating officer, said offering a complete portfolio of flash capabilities is becoming increasingly important.

"Flash now permeates every layer of IT—in virtualized and non-virtualized environments," Goulden said in a statement. "Enterprise workloads are diverse in nature, and EMC is committed to offering our customers and partners choice in their Flash deployments. ScaleIO … strengthens our product capabilities in the area of server-side storage and brings a world class team that will undoubtedly enable us to innovate more quickly in the future."

In a letter to customers and partners, ScaleIO Boaz Palgi said that pairing with EMC and gaining access to its resources will give a significant boost to what his company was looking to accomplish.

"As part of the EMC Xtrem Flash Family, our powerful technology will be integral to changing the economics, scale and performance of storage," Palgi wrote. "This is just the beginning. Working together with the professionals at EMC, and leveraging EMC's best-of-breed technology, will enable us to deliver customers reliable, elastic, high-performance server-based storage solutions, today."

ScaleIO customers include SAP, CheckPoint Technologies and StackScale.

EMC and other tech players are looking to drive flash use in the enterprise. EMC's flash lineup includes its XtremeIO line of flash-based arrays, as well as its VMAX and VNX systems, which use flash and hard drives.

For its part, IBM in April announced the FlashSystem line of flash-based storage appliances as well as $1 billion for research and development of flash technology. In February, NetApp rolled out its first all-SSD array, a new flash accelerator for servers and its FlashRay all-flash storage architecture, which will be available in 2014.