August 5 2011
There were many predictions about Fusion-io falling flat on its face during the quiet period before the IPO, when of course it could not respond. CEO David Flynn, like everybody else, has no idea how the market will react but enjoyed responding with an initial set of solid results and with two interesting formal announcements.
Fusion-io discussed Apple a strategic partner, alongside Facebook. Apple and Facebook both emphasize the importance of user experience and rapid response time. Both are using Fusion-io technology to help achieve that by putting the key databases in persistent memory as close to the server as possible and are using Fusion-io’s VSL technology to minimize I/O overhead. This architecture is discussed in detail in a previous Wikibon post entitled “Little’s Law and Lean Computing”, and shown in Figure 1.
Wikibon believes that the key to success for Fusion-io will be the broad acceptance of its VSL software architecture, especially by the OS and SQL database vendors.
Fusion IO announced the acquisition of IO Turbine, a small start-up based in San Jose, CA. IO Turbine’s main product is Accelio, which tackles the problem of the I/O tax in virtualized environments. The I/O tax is caused by the virtualization of the I/O, and the tax is levied on this overhead and the mixing of all the I/Os from the different virtual machines. This mixing changes the I/O characteristics from a mixture of sequential and random to just random. Traditional hard disks deal well with sequential but not so well with random. This I/O tax is one of the reasons that many latency sensitive workloads, especially databases, cannot be virtualized.
IO Turbine tackles this problem by introducing flash as a cache shared across all the virtual machines. The most interesting part of the acquisition is the potential use of Fusion-io’s VSL software to reduce the I/O overheads even further. The acquisition should enable Fusion-io to reach a larger set of customers with virtualized servers and offer a simple packaged solution of hardware and software for the virtualized server.
Figure 2 shows the IO Turbine architecture integrated in a VMware environment. The implementation support VMware functions such as vMotion.
Action Item: Fusion-io’s solid results, strategic partnerships and the purchase of IO Turbine should give CIOs confidence that the Fusion-io software architecture has legs. CIOs and CTOs should become familiar with the new application architectures and system topologies that are enabled.