SSD year 2015 - the 3 big ideas by
editor - StorageSearch.com - November 24, 2015
|What were the big SSD ideas of 2015? And
is it possible to predict yet the SSD ideas which will dominate our
strategic SSD thinking in 2016?|
Having been in the professional
SSD market prediction
game a long time - I thought I'd give these questions my best shot.
year my 2015/16 list is shorter.
(Big sigh of relief from those
of you out there who tell me they read nearly every word...)
sigh of relief from me too - as there is less to write. But also feeling some
pressure that the smaller list better be good. Anxious thought - did I forget
What were the 3 big SSD ideas of 2015?
idea #1 - No SSD company is too big to be acquired.
enough examples of big SSD companies being
at the time of writing this to make the above statement seem almost too obvious
- so why did I add it to my big ideas list?
It's because when the
implications of this idea sink in - it will change the way that vendors and
users in the SSD ecosystem behave - compared to what they might have done
I think the effect will be to favor some specific
changes in technical design and architecture adoption which otherwise might not
have happened at all, or would have had smaller market revenue impacts.
are some immediately obvious changes that I'd expect to see as a result.
the SSD vendor ecosystem - it is no longer safe for companies to assume that
their existing technology buying and selling relationships will remain stable
Although there was always an element of such risks in
earlier years - for example when
SSD software companies
were being acquired as if they were going out of fashion - or when SSD drive or
array companies which appeared in the
Top SSD Companies Lists
were likely to get picked up by anyone with a spare half billion dollars who
wanted to get into the market - these transactions took place against a
background assumption that there would always continue to be a flow of other
similar companies in the market (if you really wanted that kind of product)
whereas the framework assumptions about which companies would be the biggest
suppliers at the top or bottom of the food chain (as memory makers, or drive
makers or systems companies) mostly remained the same as these T-Rex companies
were comfortable in their dominant market defined identities .
strategies which once appeared safe - such as
- this is where my company fits into the market ecosystem, and
- that's where my raw suppliers fit in the market (compared to my place)
- that's where my customers fit in the market, and
are no longer
safe assumptions when your biggest supplier can become your biggest competitor.
Or when your biggest customer can become your competitor.
- this is a company I would choose to partner with
these changes can happen in the space of time it takes to read the latest
acquisition press release.
This will lead to more SSD companies
choosing defensive design strategies to decouple their exposure to sudden
changes with the kinds of companies which traditionally they would have
considered as natural partners.
A defensive technology strategy in
this context means acquiring or developing deeper technology IP while at the
same time leaning more on de-facto market standards.
business strategy could be to deepen end-user oriented focus and
specialization. In this line of thinking small to medium size SSD companies may
decide it's less risky to be a leader in a small niche than to be a generic
supplier in a big market where the traditional customers have become vertical
integrators and don't need you to exist at all.
The implications for
users of the "No SSD company is too big to be acquired" idea come
from the alternative translation that "none of my big suppliers is safe
anymore - just because it's big."
Your favorite products and
product features may disappear forever in any quarter.
Your safe old
big supplier wouldn't have made the legacy product obsolete - because they
relied on customers like you to keep them fed. But their new owners will have
to be ruthless in their support of the technology they've acquired. For their
own plans to succeed they will have to prioritize the one or two things they
liked in your old supplier's goody bag. Sorry your platform isn't in the list.
explored in more detail the defensive changes which enterprise users can make
in their buying and technology adoption behavior in my article about
consolidation. In other markets like the embedded industrial and military -
the assumption that your favorite big supplier may exit your market at any
moment - is simply business as usual. (And it has been that way ever since
digital chips replaced the analog, pneumatic and clickety clackety stuff which
big idea #2 - there's no single best place to locate
all the IO and management intelligence of a big SSD.
to say this is that the optimum design solution is to place a little piece of
intelligence everywhere it can make enough of a measurable difference (to the
total application context in which it operates).
When I listed "adaptive
intelligence flow symmetry" as one of the 11 key design symmetries in my
2012 classic article -
how fast can your
SSD run backwards? - it was located pretty close to the end of the article.
That didn't signify its relative importance in SSD architecture. But
it was a topic whose significance at that time was relatively little
appreciated outside a small group of designers of enterprise PCIe SSDs and
related software. And there were very few publicly known examples of product
implementations of this technique which I could point to in my narrative.
2014 there were more examples which flashed across the SSD news screens of those
with the alertness to notice such things. And to make sure that my readers got
the alerts they needed I noted this technique as key idea #1 in my
SSD ideas which changed in 2014 article. Although in that case - it was a
much narrower interpretation of the benefits of this technique - which was
speed. Whereas - like all powerful SSD design techniques - the general concept
can impact a wider range of SSD attributes such as power consumption,
reliability and cost too.
In case you're still unsure what I'm talking
about and how this relates to what we saw happening in 2015 - some of the
reasons for this unclarity are:-
- the technique started in PCIe SSDs, then was next adopted in arrays of
SATA SSDs but these implementations were mostly hidden as "improvers"
in proprietary products.
- the technique was called different things by its various different
creators. These different implementations also differed in the set of
parameters they were intended to optimize. (But actually they were all
variations of the same basic architecture idea. The big idea #2 above.)
In 2015 there were enough new COTS implementations of big
idea #2 to swing it for me as a done deal
See what you think with these
company and word associations...
generation), NxGn (in-situ
SSD processing), Seagate
(cloud customized SandForce),
Skyera, Baidu (SDF
for web-scale), Radian
Memory (cooperative flash management ),
OCZ (host managed SSD
Now you've got it.
Without it - all SSD
application architectures look like they're missing part of their oxygen feed
to the brain.
You're going to see a lot more in the next 2 years - for
the obvious competitive reasons.
big idea #3 - retiring and
retiering enterprise DRAM
which includes a new value proposition for
enterprise flash SSDs (flash as RAM) and presages a rebalancing of server
memories - DRAM will shrink as a percentage of the physical RAM - which will
also make it easier for emerging alternative memory types to be adopted by
hardware architects and by systems software too
In 2015 there
were significant and tangible product announcements around the ideas of
enterprise RAM architecture (2014) - which have the impact to change the
balance of memory types used in enterprise systems in as fundamental a way as
SSDs themselves were predicted to change the server, storage and software
markets in my 2005 article -
5 User Value
Propositions for buying SSDs.
You could say that not the least
impact of big idea #3 will be to add a 6th value proposition to the original 5
which I had in my list. And the economic impact of this - could be as great as
any of those earlier 5 ideas.
The size of the business opportunities
represented by retiring and retiering DRAM (aka storage class memories) have
become apparent by analyzing the gains made possible by earlier generations of
enterprise SSDs - in particular PCIe SSDs with their related support software.
If you want to see more detail about this take a look at
what's RAM really? and
DIMM wars - the
Companies which made product or technology
announcements in the big idea #3 context during 2015 included:-
there are still 2 more sections to come in this article
- the SSD ideas from previous years which you now have to forget or downgrade
I'll discuss those in a continuation of this
article next week (December 2).
- my 2 biggest SSD predictions for 2016 - which will dominate all our
strategic SSD thinking
new series preview|
|The SSD market has become an attractive market
for processor suppliers.|
In my 2010 article -
Imprinting the brain
of the SSD I noted that 2007 was a pivotal year for
SSD controller makers.
(Before then almost no one knew or cared who they were.)
As we look
ahead to 2016 it's now clear that a similar kind of trend may take place in the
identification of the processors used in SSD controllers and SSD systems.
this are competitive pressures:-
- customization is becoming a necessity to achieve optimum system
efficiency and product differentiation
- as the SSD market gets bigger - and acquisitions take unusual directions -
we're seeing semiconductor companies competing with the systems companies they
once supplied. The spectre of frenemy is driving many systems companies to
decouple their dependence on COTS controllers.
The new series -
SSD design processors used in SSD controllers and systems real examples from
the market - will help you understand the next wave of architectural change
in SSDs - by using case studies from past successful SSDs - and becoming the
most complete guide to processors used in SSDs.
- with thousands of projects designing new SSDs - and so many untapped
application roles - there just aren't enough standard SSD controller types
around to do what needs to be done.
|Hmm... it looks like you're seriously
interested in SSDs. So please bookmark this page and come back again soon. |
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be mapped in multiple ways depending on the hardware. We need to ensure that
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physical attach." |
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|You don't have to
understand the internal details of how these individual techniques work. And
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|Are you ready to
|"A critical test of
whether you really understand the dynamics of a complex market like enterprise
SSDs - is whether you can predict what rational buyers might do when offered new
product options at the extreme limits of - for example - price."|
Analysis in SSD Market Forecasting|
|"The winners in SSD
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|all enterprise data
will touch an SSD |