by Zsolt Kerekes,
editor - September 11, 2012|
|Sometimes putting a name to something
helps you deal with it. |
Because even if you don't understand the
underlying details a useful coping strategy is to place the word or phrase
in your mental map of what's going on.
Later - if the new concept
becomes a bigger part of what you need to know on a daily basis you can read
up some more about it. But having a label gives you an initial hook to hang
your thoughts on. You could say that's the typical life-cycle of most
you been wondering about the viability of vendor business models in the
enterprise SSD market
My guess is that then even if you're comfortably familiar
with the core
user value propositions for SSDs and on passing terms with
enterprise flash technologies - and even if you're already well versed in
the arcanarie of the enterprise datacenter - then I think you'll agree with
me that a lot of what's happening in enterprise SSD land still doesn't
appear to make sense.
How do all these market
size projections add up?
And why are
VCs cheerfully tossing
nearly as much new money into the SSD pot as the whole pot was worth in
revenue not that long ago?
I've written before about
some of the more obvious
reasons that enterprise SSD revenue is accelerating - which can be summed
up as saying this.
There was a time when most apps didn't depend on
SSDs. When users try out SSDs for the first time they're cautious at first -
but if they get good results they know a whole bunch of other places they can
also use SSDs in the future - and each time - as using SSDs gets more familiar
- the next purchase is bigger and happens quicker. This transition phase from a
"new" technology becoming mainstream is what creates a "growth bubble" for
Fair enough - but how big will the eventual SSD bubble be?
long held view
is that all the traditional ways of
help but understate the destination size of the SSD market.
because SSD is a disruptive market and doesn't only replace old ways of doing
things - but will create new markets that didn't exist before and which couldn't
have existed before SSDs reached a threshold level of awareness and
What are the new SSD empowered apps?
will be the biggest future users of enterprise SSDs?
That's a subject
which I discuss a lot with vendors. It's fun guessing - and
of the guesses may be right. But just as it would have been impossible to
predict with detail the effects of the
the internet when those technologies started to become well known - it's
probably impossible to predict with any level of precision what the SSD
empowered super new markets of the future will be.
this market factor - "SSD Dark Matter"
dark matter - the SSD dark matter will be bigger in mass than anything which we
can currently see or foresee.
I often say to enterprise SSD marketers
- it's easy to create a list of the top 10 oems or user sites which already use
SSDs - but no one's got more than a small fraction of the list of future
SSD user heavyweights - because they don't exist yet - or if they do - they're
in stealth mode.
They can see us - however - and if you're looking in
today - then Hi!
The SSD Dark Matter Market is one of the
reasons I urge all SSD companies to put more info about what they do on the
Be clearer explaining what you do.
silly obvious stuff behind log-ins and NDAs.
And improve your
signposting. You're just one among hundreds of SSD companies - so to make
it easier for the dark matter people to find you.
The new startups
don't have the time or patience to follow your tangled old marketing
They're not going to tramp around a tented
booth fair to swap business cards and war stories about the good old days.
Today, tomorrow and the next unknowable 5 years are the good old
days for them.
But here's the good part. And you can do something about it.
If the dark matter SSD people like your SSD technology and place it at the
heart of their own launch platforms - they could make you seriously rich.
The SSD Dark Matter impact is why the SSD market will grow to be many
times bigger than anyone with a sane spreadsheet could possibly expect.
|It looks like you're seriously interested
in the SSD market.
Here are some more articles you may be interested
Transitions in SSD
trust SSD market data?
how fast can your SSD
what's the big picture
message re SSDs?
How will hard drives
fare in an SSD world?
Can you tell me the best
way to get to SSD Street?
the classic user
value proprositions for buying SSDs
comparing SSDs to
other disruptive changes in computer history
enterprise SSD market be big enough for all these companies to grow?
||Spellerbyte's crystal ball had
a far seeing SSD-ray attachment.
|SSD dark matter - what happened later?|
the months and years which followed the initial public airing of the SSD dark
matter concept on StorageSearch.com (where it was the home page blog in
September 2012) this issue of a new big segment in the enterprise SSD
market which was outside the traditional market analysis boundaries was
clarified in other contexts:- including SSD news stories, anecdotes,
conversations with vendors and blogs. Here are some examples.
|"We estimate that
by 2016 just under half of all enterprise storage capacity shipped will be
through non-system OEM channels, which include shipments directly to hyperscale
cloud data centers, ODMs, and specialized system integrators, presenting a clear
opportunity for providers..."|
research director, SSDs and Enabling Technologies at
IDC, quoted (April 2, 2013)
in a press release by STEC|
positions ioScale for new SSD Dynasties|
|Editor:- January 16, 2013 - Fusion-io has
released a new PCIe SSD
called the ioScale
(3.2TB on a single half length PCIe slot) which is aimed at technically savvy
customers who have the potential to use thousands of cards in their
installations in new
dynasty enterprise SSD apps.
Pricing is under
$3,900 / TB and the minimum order quantity is 100 units.|
comments:- When you first look at this product - you might be tempted to
think - So what? - isn't it very similar in capability to other products which
FIO (and others) have shipped already?
In one way you'd be right. The
ioScale's hardware design is based on FIO's experience in making low cost PCIe
SSDs for the workstation market - which is as close to
price pressure as FIO gets at the present time.
But the ioScale is
aimed at a special class of enterprise super users - whose apps and companies I
dynasty and dark matter
Fusion-io told me
that when they did market research into the kinds of customers who were already
using their SSDs they discovered the big enterprise SSD customers could be
segmented into 2 groups which superficially had similar performance needs - but
were very different in the ways in which they valued issues such as:-
- compatibility with traditional software apps,
- how they handle reliability,
- how often they refresh and replace their infrastructure.
traditional enterprise customers have the profiles which everyone in the
industry knows about and aims their products at - but the new type of enterprise
customers have needs which are only starting to clarify - and for this latter
type of customer - SSDs are a strategic business enabler - because they can
convert efficiencies in raw computing technology into real competitive
- how they assess the cost / benefit of features within SSDs
Fusion-io is one of the few companies in the world which
already has a set of these latter cloud / data factory economy customers
who each have already got thousands of high performance PCIe SSDs - and who
have the ability to scale up substantially if their requirements are met and the
SSD enabled economy grows in the directions expected.
Rick told me that
these customers do want
performance, and low cost - but they don't need many of the bundled frills
which are deemed to be necessary for traditional enterprise SSD customers
legacy apps report faulty drives they change the drive or the rack. When
uber new dynasty SSD
users report faults - they route around them. Then when the time comes to
upgrade the CPU and storage capacity per square foot of that region in the
datacenter - the whole lot is forklifted out and replaced - faulty and unfaulty
racks - makes no difference.
Also - in these apps - hot pluggable
drives are a frill which is simply not worth paying for.
matter SSD customers - at which the ioScale is aimed - also know much more about
the technical limitations of their infrastructure - and have the technical
expertise to change things to suit them better - if they think it's worthwhile.
So - for example - the ability to dive into SSD APIs and change their apps
code to get speedups or other new functionality - is something they will do -
whereas traditional enterprise customers prefer all new hardware to work with
pre-existing software in a tweak-free environmoent.
conversation with Rick White - I referred back to the
software (which FIO launched in
August 2012 -
and which enables users to convert a standard server and a bunch of
PCIe SSDs into a
traditional SAN compatible
My assessment of that product shared with readers at the time - was that if
it satisfied the needs of a small number of super users - who could each buy
maybe hundreds or thousands of such systems - that made it worthwhile for FIO to
bundle the concept and launch it. I thought the analysis I had seen in other
places - which compared it to traditional rack SSDs was completely missing the
Rick confirned my analysis was closer to the mark - and many
times in our discussion we returned to the problems in the SSD market caused by
faulty and incomplete market
research and mistaken understandings of what the real issues in the market
My way of summarizing this is - that if you ask a bunch of
people who go to a trade show - what do you think about SSDs? - you're going to
get a different result to when you talk to people who are already deeply
engaged in the SSD market, have already done a lot of SSD projects and who
spend nearly all their waking hours thinking about what more can they do if they
had even better SSDs?
It's not that the traditional market research
gives you the wrong answers - it's more that - if you're not in the right place
in the SSD market then you don't understand enough to pose the right questions
- and you probably don't have access to the people who will ultimately decide
Fusion-io isn't the only SSD company who is getting value
business insights by researching its strategic customers.
last year that SanDisk
had adapted its approach to enterprise customers by deciding to support
competing hardware with its
And there are many more examples I could mention if I had the time.