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Summary:

Combine virtualization, big data and solid state memory, and you get a trifecta of technology buzz words that a few startups are trying to combine to deliver faster speeds on top of virtualized infrastructure. Plus, as speed becomes crucial, are hard drives still relevant?

SolidFire hopes to shrink the size of storage systems.

Can FlashSoft help change the face of storage?

The communication between processors and memory has become a huge bottleneck slowing down our applications. A host of startups have emerged to solve those issues, including FlashSoft, which said Tuesday it had raised $3 million as part of a Series A round led by Thomvest Ventures with Divergent Ventures, Bullpen Capital and Accelerator Ventures participating.

FlashSoft, which was founded in Nov. 2009, provides software that allows a data center admin to direct data from a server to a flash-based solid state drive. By adding an SSD to bring stored data closer to the CPU, the FlashSoft software helps applications run faster. Similar to what memcached does for web servers, FlashSoft’s software on top of SSDs hopes to do for databases and other applications.

FlashSoft has customers already, mentioning Zenprise and Trion Worlds in its launch and funding release. However, IO Turbine – another startup in this space, backed by Andy Bechtolsheim and other luminaries — recently announced its software that performs a similar function. Ted Sanford, CEO of FlashSoft, says it’s hard to make distinctions between what FlashSoft’s products offer and IO Turbine’s do, since the IO Turbine software isn’t out yet. FlashSoft plans to use this funding to get the word out on its product, and has partnerships already with big names in the flash space, including the newly public Fusion-io,VMware, Microsoft and SanDisk’s Pliant acquisition.

As startups like FlashSoft bring their products to market, I think it signals a shift in how willing enterprises are to adopt SSDs over hard drives. While hard drives still have the cost advantage, it appears it’s becoming akin to sticking with a horse-drawn buggy in an age of automobiles by arguing that the upfront cost for a car is so much more than the cost of a horse. At some point, it just doesn’t make sense to ride a horse. How soon until the IT world gets there?

  1. Stacey, I think the IT world has by now acknowledged that SSDs are going to be just another layer between the faster RAM and slower disks. So the real question then arises is, whether applications and especially operating systems are ready to make best use of this new storage level in the stack.

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