For a few years now, I’ve had the insanely good fortune to be associated with Stephen Foskett’s Tech Field Day series of events. If you’re not aware, Tech Field Day is an event in which a number of prominent influencers and bloggers are invited to have conversations with technology companies. In many cases, the companies bring their CEOs, and other high level leadership, in order to explain how their product works to a sometimes skeptical (but in a healthy way!) audience.
At the most recent Tech Field Day, we had the pleasure of watching a company reveal its product for the first time. Infinio aims to take a software-based approach to storage acceleration by leveraging an Infinio virtual machine; such virtual machines are deployed on each host in the cluster to which you install Infinio. These virtual appliances each have between 4 GB and 16 GB assigned, which is used to cache read storage I/O in very fast RAM rather than relying on just the storage device alone. Bearing in mind that Infinio is currently only able to cache reads, the company indicates that read performance can be increased by significant multiples. At present, Infinio is a read-only proposition; there is no write caching yet.
Infinio is also really taking the “virtual appliance” to heart, too, making the overall purchasing experience much like buying a microwave. Customers will be able to simply pay for Infinio with a credit card as their pricing will be such that a credit card will be sufficient. From there, users simply download the installer and, with a few clicks, they’re on their way. Infinio is taking great pride with the overall buying and installation experience and clearly wants to be able to leverage this as a differentiator.
Perhaps the biggest challenge to this approach is the use of RAM as a cache. Even though RAM prices have plummeted in recent years, it’s often still the resource that is exhausted first in a virtual environment. Using a tool such as Infinio might reduce the virtual machine density level potential of hosts, increasing costs, but this potential cost increase needs to be weighed against the resulting potential performance gains.
If the company can execute on its promises and can eventually extend the product to include additional use cases and ensure that availability and non-cached performance won’t suffer, it will provide an interesting option once it’s generally available late this year.