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Fusion-io, a newly public company that makes flash memory components for servers, on Monday released the results of its acquisition of IO Turbine, a mere three weeks after it acquired the startup. The combination of the two companies has resulted in a product called ioCache, that will compete in the newly hot space of boosting the performance of virtualized apps.
IO Turbine’s software helps virtualized servers manage their access to Flash memory, and enabled companies to put workloads such as databases that require fast access to memory in the cloud. FlashSoft and others also are hoping to compete in this space as solid state drives and Flash memory become more common inside corporate data centers.
It made sense that Fusion-io, which is providing the hardware to build out distributed flash memory would be interested in picking up a software layer that could make its hardware more functional. Companies such as Facebook are deploying servers with Fusion-io cards inside them, creating a network of distributed storage that has to be managed. IO Turbine’s software can do that. IO Turbine’s software works with any solid state drives that use flash (or even hard drives) and Fusion-io will offer it bundled with its components or on a standalone basis.
David Flynn, CEO of Fusion-io, said the two companies had been working together for the last year or so, and once Fusion-io went public, it had the resources to buy IO Turbine,” We didn’t try to go public to get bought, but to do the buying,” he said referring to a story I had written in March when Fusion-io filed to go public and I suggested the move was a feint to drive up interest so someone would acquire the company.
Instead it was part of a strategy to get people interested in Fusion-io as more than just a provider for webscale companies trying to improve performance on a small subset of Internet apps that have to access a lot of data really quickly. Flynn wants to convince enterprise buyers that performance Flash belongs in their servers. With IO Turbine’s software running on the Fusion hardware, enterprises can continue consolidating their IT resources by putting more virtual machines on a server without slowing down the VMs’ ability to access stored data.
Once companies realize that the transition to flash memory (while more expensive on a per gigabyte basis than hard drives) can save them in terms of server costs because they can run more applications on a server, or even host more applications in the cloud, Flynn believes that Fusion-io can break into the enterprise market. This new product is the first big step.