VeloBit tries to entice customers with trial HyperCache software, SSD

With competition from storage and flash device vendors, VeloBit offers a trial version of its HyperCache SSD caching software and a loaner Micron SSD.

Trying to get customers to consider its caching software in a crowded field of contenders, startup VeloBit Inc. is offering a free trial version of its HyperCache product -- and a loaner SSD to use with the software -- through a partnership with solid-state drive (SSD) vendor Micron Technology.

HyperCache is server-based caching software for SSDs and solid-state PCI-Express (PCIe) cards that works with any block storage technologies (such as Fibre Channel, iSCSI or direct-attached storage). It keeps the most frequently used data on the server for recurrent user requests. VeloBit, which released HyperCache versions of VMware vSphere and Citrix XenServer in August, today also added a production version for Microsoft Hyper-V.

The new HyperCache Starter trial edition is a full version of the software for the first 30 days. After that, it automatically throttles back to support only a 32 GB solid-state cache and a 4 GB RAM cache, which together can typically support 160 GB of data.

"It's large enough to be useful for people on a small scale, but too small for any enterprise deployment," said Peter Velikin, VeloBit's vice president of marketing.

Micron is offering users that download the Starter edition a loaner SSD to use for 60 days to test the caching software. After the 30-day trial period, the SSD must be returned or purchased from Micron. Velikin said VeloBit hopes to expand the loaner SSD offer by offering drives from other partners soon.

VeloBit is far from alone in the SSD caching software market. Major storage vendors EMC (VFCache) and NetApp (Flash Accel) sell caching software, as do startups Proximal Data and Nevex. SSD and PCIe hardware vendors Fusion-io, LSI, OCZ, STEC and SanDisk have either acquired or developed caching software to use with their flash devices.

Velkin said VeloBit's main differentiator is its content-locality caching algorithm, which retains data in cache based on the content within each block of data. "It's a different way to cache data," he said. "It caches [data] based on the content popularity in the data blocks, rather than just going based on how recently it was used."

Velikin said the software installs typically in 60 seconds with no changes to legacy storage or applications. Customers select the solid-state resources HyperCache will use during installation, designate how much RAM to use for caching and specify the write depth. VeloBit has plans to enable inter-server cache coherence in 2013.

"It can give you much, much better [application] performance than disk," Velikin said, "and you can get the performance with less SSDs because you are optimizing their use. It gives you much less expensive means to accelerate your primary storage."

HyperCache is priced at $625 per processor and both the Starter edition and paid editions are available for download from the company's website.

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