SanDisk FlashSoft for VMware
Last month I was invited to attend an advanced briefing on a new version of FlashSoft from SanDisk. I have to admit that at the time I did not even know that SanDisk offered such a product. After finishing up the briefing call I was surprised at how mature the product was. For something I had never heard of before had many features that seemed like they were ahead of other products.
In case you have never heard of FlashSoft either here is a short description on what it does.
FlashSoft™ uses innovative caching technology to deliver the performance of enterprise flash with no disruption to applications, servers, or storage. FlashSoft works with any vendor’s enterprise solid -state technology, and supports all enterprise storage architectures.
FlashSoft software is installed within the server operating system, where it identifies the frequently accessed data (“hot data”) to be cached on solid state device. FlashSoft runs transparently within the server, accelerating I/O for selected data volumes.
The innovative design of the FlashSoft caching engine requires minimal system resources to deliver I/O acceleration. The persistent cache resumes acceleration immediately upon server restart.
In simple terms the software acts as a local cache point on your vSphere hosts that can accelerate your storage I/O and improve performance of existing storage arrays. This is not a new idea, as there are several others in this space working on the same type of solution.
Some of the features of FlashSoft that impressed me were the following.
- Support for large local cache sizes, up to 2 TB
- Ability to concatenate multiple smaller SSD volumes into one larger one
- The ability to create different tiers of caching on a host and then on a per VM basis assign to a specific tier
Gartner IOM Summit, ORLANDO, JUNE 18, 2013 — SanDisk Corporation (NASDAQ: SNDK), a global leader in flash memory storage solutions, today announced a significant upgrade to its enterprise software portfolio with a new version of its FlashSoft Windows Server caching software complements and enhances the performance of existing applications, and server and storage systems.
Key benefits of FlashSoft 3.2 software include:
- multiple SSD support, with SSD mirroring for “safe write-back” caching;
- support for up to four caches on a single server;
- acceleration of up to 2048 volumes per cache;
- maximum cache size increased to two terabytes per cache; and,
- support for volume-based storage architectures, including direct-attached storage (DAS) and storage area network (SAN) configurations.
“Solid state storage strategies are changing the economics of data management. The challenge, however, is adding enterprise flash technology without major disruptions to ongoing IT operations,” said Jeff Boles, senior analyst and director of Lab Validation Services, The Taneja Group. “SanDisk’s FlashSoft software efficiently integrates solid state cache into servers without changing where data is stored or the features and capabilities of a consolidated storage approach. This ‘disruptionless’ approach dramatically simplifies the introduction of solid state, and allows SanDisk customers to immediately address performance challenges without changing existing storage strategies.”
By caching frequently accessed data (“hot data”) on solid-state memory installed in the server, FlashSoft software allows read and write operations for hot data to execute via the solid state device rather than underlying storage. This optimizes server performance by reducing input-output latency (“I/O latency”) from storage. The software dynamically allocates the cache space to volumes based on their I/O activity for optimal efficiency in SSD utilization, while minimizing use of server CPU and memory resources. and Linux operating systems. FlashSoft 3.2 server-side solid state
FlashSoft software supports SanDisk’s own enterprise solid-state devices, and it’s also compatible with all vendors’ enterprise flash-based systems, including those using PCIe, SAS or SATA technology. This provides customers choice and flexibility in selecting the flash hardware best suited to their budget, infrastructure and operational requirements.
“SanDisk continually improves its software products based on feedback from customers, delivering features and benefits that address enterprise requirements for large-scale, business-critical applications,” said Tom Shea, vice president and general manager, Software Solutions, SanDisk. “The advancements in the FlashSoft 3.2 software allow users to increase application performance while reducing overhead on storage systems, at a lower overall capital expense.”
In response to its customers using FlashSoft for increasingly larger data sets, SanDisk has significantly improved the FlashSoft caching engine to meet requirements for accelerating data-intensive workloads. FlashSoft 3.2 allows four separate caches on a single server, with each cache on its own SSD. In addition, SanDisk has increased the maximum size of each cache from 1TB to 2TB, and the number of volumes supported by a single cache has increased from 255 to 2048.
Multiple SSD Support
IT managers require flexibility to expand data center capabilities in the most economical manner. In addition to supporting multiple caches on separate SSDs, FlashSoft 3.2 supports the concatenation (linking) of multiple solid state devices to provide one larger logical SSD. When a larger solid state cache is needed, FlashSoft software gives the option of simply adding more solid state devices for incremental growth, rather than requiring replacement of the existing SSD. Additionally, when implementing multiple caches, an IT manager can employ higher performing or larger SSDs for caching higher priority workloads, and more economical solid state devices for less demanding applications, providing the appropriate quality of service to all data.
Safe Write-Back Caching
FlashSoft software has always provided the option of a write-back mode for “read-write” caching, which can significantly improve performance for certain database applications. FlashSoft 3.2 also supports data mirroring, using two identical SSDs for “safe write-back” caching where data is written to both SSDs concurrently and is available even in the event of an SSD failure. If one SSD fails, FlashSoft automatically flushes the data from the other SSD and switches to write-through mode, providing read-only caching until the SSD failure is remedied.
- Operating System (Windows): Windows Server 2008 R2.
- Operating System (Linux): Red Hat5.5 and above and 6.0 and above.
- Server Memory Overhead: 140MB.
- Recommended CPU: Dual core or greater, 2GHz or above, 64-bit x86 processor.
- Cache Size: 8GB (min) to 2TB (max) per cache.
- Total Cache Capacity: Up to 4 caches per server.
- SSD: Any SSD (SAS or PCIe recommended).
Pricing and Availability
FlashSoft 3.2 for Windows Server ($3,000 USD), FlashSoft 3.2 for Linux ($3,500) and FlashSoft 3.1 for VMware vSphere ($3,900) are available now and may be purchased from SanDisk or through authorized resellers. Software maintenance and support is available from SanDisk for all FlashSoft software products. For more information, please visit
About Brian Suhr
Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design