Whiptail logoLast week I was able to attend a presentation from Whiptail in which they talked about their flash-based storage array. With their product portfolio they offer storage solutions that deliver high levels of speed for applications which produce high loads on storage.

Whiptail positions itself in the marked as a storage solution for applications like VDI, server virtualization and databases that demand high performance. At this moment they are not trying to compete with storage vendors that deliver high amounts of storage space. high numbers on read and write actions, high bandwidth and low latency times are the current key values of the Whiptail storage solutions.

The Whiptail storage family consists of the:

The Accela which is smallest model in the family. This unit uses 2U of rack space and has a power usage below 200 watts. It can deliver a storage capacity from 1,5 TB up to 12 TB at a write speed of 250k IOPS (based on 4K cryptographically random writes) a bandwidth of 1.9 GB/s and a latency value of 100 µs (0,1 ms).


The Invicta is a storage controller that enables the customer to stack 2 to 6 Accela nodes. Each Accela node still manages its own drivers thus keeping the high performance. With the Invicta the number of IOPS is further increased as the data is spread amongst more nodes. A total of 650k IOPS can be generated with bandwidth up to 7.5 GB/s and a latency of 200 µs (0,2 ms). These numbers are based upon 4K Block via 8GB Fiber Channel.

With Invicta infinity the customer is able to connect up to 30 nodes through the use of Infiniband. this creates the possibility to increase storage capacity up to 360 TB with a possible bandwidth of 40 GB/s and IOPS up to 4,000k.

Each products has interfaces for:

  • 2/4/8 Gbps Fiber Channel
  • 1/10 Gbps Ethernet
  • 40 Gbps Infiniband

Protocols that can be used are Fiber channel, Infiniband SRP, iSCSI and NFS.

RacerunnerTypically multilevel cell (MLC) flash solutions have some disadvantages like lower write performance and lower longevity with the way blocks are written to the disks. The Racerunner OS makes it possible for Whiptail products to provide the high performance and also allow them to overcome other downsides of flash based storage.

Block Translation Layer (BTL):

  • Greatly extends the useful life of MLC media
  • Enhances random write performance
  • Employs a method of writing that drastically reduces write amplification
  • Avoids continuous repacking
  • Avoids repeated erasing and writing of blocks
  • Reduces the number of times a small random Write IO causes Flash erasure
  • Significantly increases SSD cell endurance

Block Linearization:

  • Wear-leveling algorithm commits all writes across the entire array
  • Avoids hot spots and premature wear
  • Random write workloads are committed in a 100% sequential fashion

Something to consider when looking into Whiptail products is the fact that there is no option for synchronous replication. Providing low latency solutions was currently only possible with a-synchronous replication. This a-synchronous replication is  also possible with Windows and Linux based OS-es with the help of a “open host agent”.

As mentioned in the beginning of the article, Whiptail at this moment is not competing with the vendors that deliver high amounts of storage space. That said they are planning to implement Thin provisioning and deduplication. With these technologies they will try to compete with other vendors while still holding their position as fast storage deliverer. Whiptail is aiming to get thin provisioning and deduplication implemented end March / begin April.

For now Whiptail sees Violin as one of their direct competitors. There are other vendors (seemingly there are about 52 start-ups for flash storage) working on flash only storage solutions like EMC that acquired ExtremeIO. During 2012 Whiptail added 130 new customers to its database. At the end of 2012 Whiptail did it’s 3rd funding round which included large investments from SanDisk and a unnamed “industry titan from Silicon Valley”. There are rumors that the unnamed investor might be looking into acquiring Whiptail.

Whiptail got the “ready” label for both VMware as Citrix and is also labeled “Cisco Developer Registered”. The Racerunner OS supports VAAI and as an administrator you will be able to manage the storage system from within vCenter.

The industry for 100% flash based storage is still pretty new. A lot of vendors are looking into possible solutions and as mentioned before there are a lot of newcomers on the market. Personally I think that Whiptail has a strong position on this market with their current product line. If you are looking into storage solutions for applications that demand high performance I would recommend that you at least take a look at their products.

For those that are interested in more information you can have a look at their site on www.whiptail.com