Violin Memory Snaps up GridIron to Accelerate Applications

By Pedro Hernandez

In a bid to boost application performance for data center operators, enterprise flash storage specialist Violin Memory announced that it had acquired GridIron Systems for an undisclosed amount.

Violin Memory, a startup that has attracted funding from big technology companies including SAP Ventures, Toshiba and Juniper Networks, is a provider of all-flash storage arrays. The company aims to bridge the performance gap between ever-faster servers and storage infrastructures with arrays that employ flash memory.

Violin's goal is to bypass the performance penalties imposed by comparatively slower disk-based systems, a veritable necessity in an age of virtualized infrastructures, massive data sets and cloud-enabled workloads.

Matt Barletta, Violin's vice president of product marketing, told InfoStor last spring, "The fundamental technology issue is that mechanical disk drives have been unable to keep pace with Moore's Law's advances in compute and networking, singling out storage as the key data center bottleneck."

Today, the company continues on that path by snapping up GridIron, maker of the TurboCharger line of application acceleration appliances. TurboCharger appliances are comprised of flash memory, DRAM and specialized software to improve performance between SANs and application servers.

In October, GridIron teamed with Netapp to debut its new OneAppliance array. OneAppliance is a hybrid SSD-HDD storage system that combines a NetApp E-5400 Series storage array with a TurboCharger appliance.

GridIron boasts that its technology can provide up to a 1,000x improvement in the time it takes to access and deliver application datasets. It's a capability that dovetails neatly with Violin's plans to take over the data center.

Violin CEO Don Basile said in a company statement, "The acquisition of GridIron Systems complements and expands Violin Memory's strategy of offering memory-based solutions that accelerate business critical applications while optimizing IT infrastructures. The expanded talent, technology and intellectual property position Violin Memory at the forefront of the ongoing transformation of enterprise data centers to memory-based architectures."

Som Sikdar, GridIron founder and chief technology officer, hints that his company's sophisticated software is at the heart of deal.

"GridIron's patented algorithms enable dramatic application acceleration in data center SAN environments by non-intrusively learning about input/output (I/O) access patterns and caching an application's active dataset. By combining GridIron intellectual property and Violin Memory Array technologies, we can deliver solutions that will allow companies to transform the way they deploy and manage applications in their data center."

It's not the first time Violin has set its sights on software to bolster its position as a flash storage innovator.

In 2010, Violin bought Gear6, a provider of Memcached solutions. However, it was the company's NFS caching savvy that caught Violin's eye.

Basile stated during the announcement, "This acquisition allows us to move into the NAS space. We can put the NFS caching software into our 3U, 10TB SSD appliances, which allows us to cache large NAS infrastructures. Users can keep their current NAS systems, and we can significantly accelerate the NFS appliances by caching the reads and metadata."

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

This article was originally published on January 22, 2013