Fusion-io to Lend Cisco Blades Some Flash

By Pedro Hernandez

Fusion-io scored a big win this week by inking an OEM deal with Cisco. The flash PCIe server card startup will soon be extending its application acceleration technology to Cisco blades.

In a blog post, Tyler Smith, vice president of Alliances for Fusion-io welcomed Cisco as the "newest OEM" and revealed that his company's tech will show up in UCS B-series blade servers in late 2012. Fusion-io also has deals with other industry heavyweights, including Dell, HP and IBM.

Smith added that Cisco's approach to reducing "total cost of ownership (TCO) and increase business agility" by incorporating compute, network, storage access, and virtualization into the Unified Computing System (UCS) platform aligns well with Fusion-io's tech. He concludes that "Fusion's ultra low latency ioMemory an ideal fit for accelerating UCS Blade Servers."

UCS is Cisco's way of carving out a place for its tech in enterprise data centers beyond networking. The servers, available in both rack and blade form factors, underwent a significant upgrade earlier this year to Intel's new E5 server chips.

UCS has emerged as a bright spot among Cisco's business units. Since the platform debuted in 2009, it has helped Cisco rack up more than 10,000 UCS customers and generate approximately $1 billion a year.

Why Fusion-io? Paul Perez, Chief Technology Officer for the Data Center Group at Cisco, described Fusion-io "as a market leader in flash technology for the enterprise. In a statement announcing the partnership, Perez also noted, "With its strong track record of reliability and unique cut-through architecture, Fusion ioMemory will amplify the power of Cisco UCS blade servers to provide scalable application acceleration for Cisco customers."

While Fusion-io may have been early to the party, it's not the only company vying for a slice of the growing flash-based server card market.

Earlier this year, EMC made a splash by announcing VFCache, a half-height PCIe card that with 300GB of single-level cell (SLC) NAND storage. Although early in its product cycle, VFCache is off to a healthy start, according to EMC.

In the months since, the flash PCIe card market has been flooded with new products. LSI debuted new Nytro cards in April, followed closely by Intel with its SSD 910, the chipmaker’s first foray into the hot market. SSD 910 boards feature 25-nanometer MLC NAND flash chips and 5-year warranties.

Even SanDisk, better known for its consumer grade flash offerings, got into the game with Lightning. The cards retail for $1,400 for 200 GB flash acceleration card, a price point the company hopes will spread the technology's appeal beyond the high-end enterprise computing market.

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.

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This article was originally published on June 14, 2012