Fusion-io Courts the Open Source Crowd

By Pedro Hernandez

Fusion-io is betting that open source software developers can help usher in an era of flash-aware enterprise software. To that end, the company announced during the Open Source Convention (OSCON) that it is contributing NVMKV, a nonvolatile memory key-value interface, to the Open Compute Project. Fusion-io also posted to GitHub what it claims is the industry's "first flash-aware Linux kernel virtual memory Demand Paging Extension."

The flash storage specialist's Atomic Writes application programming interface (API) has been submitted to the T10 SCSI Storage Interfaces Technical Committee for standardization. Currently, the API is used by MariaDB 5.5.31, Percona Server 5.5.31 and will appear in the upcoming Percona Server 5.6.

The company has been strengthening its ties to the open source movement. In May, Fusion-io acquired ID7, the UK-based company behind the open source SCST SCSI Linux target subsystem. "In addition to maintaining an open source version of SCST, Fusion-io will continue to contribute to the open source distribution as we develop software solutions to help define the all-flash datacenter," stated Fusion-io senior VP of products Gary Orenstein.

Today, Fusion-io is spreading its open source contributions around.

Chief technology officer Pankaj Mehra detailed the benefits of advancing the use of flash storage via open source development in a statement. A flash-aware application, he argued, "optimizes the placement, movement, and especially the processing of data with awareness of NAND flash in the memory hierarchy." Also on deck are "configuration options for leveraging the properties of flash memory to improve performance, manageability, and return on investment."

Developers, on the other hand, can produce high-performance software with a leaner code base. They "can eliminate redundant layers in the software stack, deliver more consistent low latency, more application throughput, and increased NAND flash durability, all with less application-level code," he stated.

NVMKV, in particular, promises to ease some of the storage inefficiencies present in current NoSQL environments. Fusion-io explained that "NVMKV eliminates the need to continually convert native key-value I/O to block I/O used in disk storage." Since it leverages Flash Translation Layers (FTL), NVMKV also benefits from built-in garbage collection.

Atomic Writes, meanwhile, enlists the processor to convert writes to multiple independent storage sectors into a single storage transaction, resulting in faster performance and an increase in the useful life of flash. Needless to say, the API seams custom tailored for I/O intensive database workloads.

"New flash-aware APIs like Atomic Writes help deliver high performance MySQL acceleration optimized for modern datacenter architectures designed around efficiency and performance. We have included the Atomic Writes API in the current version of Percona Server 5.5 as well as the upcoming Percona Server 5.6," stated Percona CEO Peter Zaitsev in company remarks.

Fusion-io is hoping to extend the benefits of native flash storage support to software beyond databases, however. The company informed that it "is also extending the general purpose Linux I/O layer to allow these mainstream file systems to make the benefits of Atomic Writes accessible to a wider variety of applications."

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Enterprise Apps Today and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

This article was originally published on July 24, 2013