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Dataram

Founded in 1967, Dataram is a recognized worldwide leader in the manufacture of high quality computer memory and a pioneer in auto tiering SSD SAN storage appliances.
.... click for more info about Dataram

The company delivers value to its customers through solutions that optimize data center and application performance, while at the same time delivering significant cost savings without introducing risk. Dataram products and solutions are deployed in 70 of the Fortune 100 companies and governmental agencies including the Department of Defense who use Dataram products for the most demanding mission critical applications.

see also:- Dataram - editor mentions on StorageSearch.com and Dataram's SSD blog
  • editor's comments:- April 2012 - Dataram (used to) market rackmount SSD appliances in a market category which I call SSD ASAPs (SSDs As Soon As Possible aka auto-tiering SSD accelerators).

    In my SSD business model and architecture classifications - Dataram is Legacy and Big Architecture. If you click those preceding links you'll see some interesting competitor groupings.

    Users in the emerging SSD ASAPs market have frustrated many vendor expectations by treading slowly, cautiously and hesitatingly towards these products - instead of rushing to adopt them. Users wanted to see if claims made by vendors (that their products would automatically work to speed up apps) would be proven in practise (preferably somewhere else). In the last few years Dataram, like other ASAP vendors found that instead of getting a rush of customers beating a path to their door - the company had to instead invest considerable resources to acquire customer test and reference sites.

    Dataram publicaly acknowledged that its original XcelaSAN lacked HA features which were needed to make it more appealing to users in the fibre-channel SAN market. The company said it had fixed this feature gap with the announcement of its XcelaSAN Model 100 in March 2011.

    Competitors to Dataram?

    Dataram has few technically equivalent competitors - but one of those in the FC SAN ASAP category is recently emerged GridIron Systems.

    Customers who want to accelerate their FC SAN storage - using tier 1 type products - and who have small enough total capacity to place it all in SSD - might also consider looking at Huawei Symantec , Kaminario and Violin Memory.

    If you're happy about putting cards inside your servers, or replacing the servers, while keeping your existing SAN storage, another option is to look at PCIe SSDs in particular those with auto-tiering software support - such as Fusion-io. The PCIe route won't work if your SAN data is the bottleneck for a bunch of distributed servers - but it might work OK if your installation only has a few colocated servers - which can be mopped up into a single faster SSD accelerated unit.
Dataram recent mentions in SSD market history

In October 2008 - Dataram re-entered the SSD market with the acquisition of strategic assets from Cenatek whose CEO has joined Dataram to lead the company's return to solid state storage, an area they "pioneered 32 years ago.." ...Earlier:- in 1976 - Dataram sold an SSD called BULK CORE which attached to minicomputers from ModComp and emulated hard disks made by DEC and Data General. Each chassis held 8x 256k x 18 RAM modules and had a capacity of 2 megabytes.

This is a very significant milestone for the SSD market because it shows the strategic value that memory makers place on SSDs.

In the past companies like Intel have resold 3rd party SSD cards, STEC divested itself of its vanilla memory business and Samsung would like to own and control MLC patents now in the hands of SanDisk.

Look at it from the viewpoint of a memory maker.

Future server systems will have orders of magnitude more memory in the attached SSDs than installed as main RAM memory. Who owns the brand of the SSD boxes will mean a dramatic difference to attainable revenue. Being locked out of the SSD box - will mean that a memory maker can only access smaller markets - or supply other SSD oems at commodity proces. I expect to report many more such acquisitions during the next few years.

When discussing this story my wife said this is an example of a marketing concept called "forward integration."

In August 2009 - Dataram said it will launch an SSD accelerator at SNW in October. The product is currently being evaluated by key customers.

"As we prepare to launch a data storage acceleration product, we have studied the current state of solid state storage appliances very carefully to understand the strengths and weaknesses of available solutions," said Jason Caulkins, Dataram's Chief Technologist. "The features, benefits and hidden compromises the customer must accept with today's generation of solid state storage appliances are not always obvious. We hope to help our customers understand all their options and provide them with a much better solution."

In September 2009 - Dataram launched the XcelaSAN - a fast 2U rackmount flash SSD with 450,000 random IOPS performance (assuming 50/50 R/W and 4k blocks), and upto 8x 4Gbps FC ports - aimed at the SAN application acceleration market. Pricing starts at $65,000 for a unit with approx 360GB internal flash, of which 128GB is effectively used as a cache.

In November 2009 - Dataram is running a webinar - Navigating the Maze of Solid State Storage Solutions. Viewers will discover - "How to better gauge your storage traffic to identify bottlenecks and areas where solid state storage can provide a day 1 positive ROI."

In July 2010 - Dataram reported that its annual revenue for the year ended April 30 grew 70% to $44 million incurring a net loss of $1.6 million. Dataram's president and CEO - John H. Freeman said the company is increasing resources into evolving its XcelaSAN (ASAP) product line and plans to launch HA versions later in the year.

In August 2010 - StorageSearch.com published SSD Bookmarks - suggested by Jason Caulkins, Chief Technologist Dataram.

In October 2010 - Dataram launched a campaign called - Let Us Prove It to You - to persuade users to evaluate its XcelaSAN (an FC rackmount SSD ASAP) - which the company says can dynamically and transparently improves I/O performance up to 30x in the users own SAN environment with block-level caching. Dataram is so confident in the results and ease of installation that a 32GB iPad will be given to organizations that complete the evaluation.

In April 2011 - Dataram has doubled the RAM cache available in its XcelaSAN (2U rackmount fibre-channel SAN SSD accelerator) to 256GB (the system price is approx $75,000). XcelaSAN delivers up to 30x transparent R/W acceleration to attached disk storage arrays with a high-availability architecture (internal performance is upto 450,000 IOPS). Unlike most solid state storage solutions, XcelaSAN dynamically caches high I/O activity application data when it is needed, to support multiple applications many times larger than the cache itself.

In September 2011 - Dataram announced that Dell OEM Solutions will manufacture and support Dataram's FC SAN compatible auto-tiering / SSD ASAP - the XcelaSAN from November 2011.

In October 2011 - Dataram published a 25 minutes video describing its XcelaSAN auto-tiering SSD ASAP. The interesting parts for me are in the last 5 minutes when we learn a bit more about its latency, IOPS and HA architecture. In my view the company should have published more details about these aspects of the product in a white paper a year or so ago. System architects need internal guides and modeling metrics to help them understand the strengths and weaknesses.

In April 2012 - Dataram announced it had sold its patents portfolio related to solid state storage and SSD ASAPs for $5 million to Phan Tia Group. Dataram retains a license to continue to use the patents in current and future Dataram products.

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exciting new directions in rackmount SSDs
Editor:- May 29, 2013 - A new generation of enterprise SSD rackmounts is breaking all the rules which previously constrained price, performance and reliability. The sum impact of cleverly designed SSD arrays is systems which are many times more competitive than you would imagine from any tear-down analysis of the parts.

These new trends are explored in a new article on StorageSearch.com - exciting new directions in rackmount SSDs.
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AMD will rebrand Dataram's RAMDisk software
Editor:- September 6, 2012 - Dataram today announced it will develop a version of its RAMDisk software which will be rebranded by AMD in Q4 under the name of Radeon RAMDisk and will target Windows market gaming enthusiasts seeking (upto 5x) faster performance when used with enough memory.
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Dataram monetizes XcelaSAN patents
Editor:- April 4, 2012 - Dataram today announced it has sold its patents portfolio related to solid state storage and SSD ASAPs for $5 million to Phan Tia Group.

Dataram retains a license to continue to use the patents in current and future Dataram products including XcelaSAN with limited rights to transfer its license. ipCapital Group assisted in patent valuation, and supported Dataram on the negotiation and successful close of this transaction.

Editor's comments:- this is a good deal for Dataram. This way they retain their stake in the high availability FC SAN RAM end of the SSD ASAP market - and get some cash to pursue growth ideas.

The XcelaSAN has been aimed at niche segments in the enterprise SSD market - but could take off in new directions with the appopriate marketing investment.

Dataram probably understands what they have to do to get business there better than anyone else - because they've been working hard to learn what the early adopters in this market want for over 2 years and have been applying that feedback into product tweaks and clearer customer messages.
image shows mouse at the one armed bandit - click to see VC funds in storage To many readers the sum of money mentioned in this news story sounds small - compared to the tens and hundreds of million dollar sums often bandied about in SSD VC stories. But Dataram is a very conservatively managed company and they get a lot done for what seems to other SSD oems like loose change.
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"In July 2001 - Cenatek entered the SSD market with the launch of its Rocket Drive - a PCI bus RAM SSD which was designed as a performance accelerator "delivering performance of up to one million transactions per second." The product's designer Jason Caulkins - went on later to become the CTO of Dataram's SSD business."
...from:- Charting the Rise of the SSD Market
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"The ASAP uses its own intelligence to figure out data hot spots - and tries to ensure - that as often as possible - the data which you want from the slower, bigger store - is accessible to your servers."
...from the article - the New Business Case for SSD ASAPs
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flash SSD capacity - the iceberg syndrome
Have you ever wondered how the amount of flash inside a flash SSD compares to the capacity shown on the invoice?

What you see isn't always what you get.
nothing surprised the penguins - click to read  the article There can be huge variations in different designs as vendors leverage invisible internal capacity to tweak key performance and reliability parameters. ...read the article
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Dataram talks about blurring memory and storage
Editor:- May 19, 2011 - Dataram's Chief Technologist Jason Caulkins has written a new blog - Memory and Storage Technologies Begin to Blur in which he says new nv memories may render legacy hard disk interfaces obsolete by enabling most storage to fit in servers.

Jason is no stranger to this concept having designed a PCI SSD - called the Rocket Drive 10 years ago. But Dataram's current SSD appliance is very much a fibre-channel SAN animal - designed to work alongside legacy installed RAID arrays. Jason says in his blog the key enabler to these new architectures will be software.
Flash Memory My own view is that legacy hard disk DAS and NAS storage interfaces will continue to inter-operate with PCIe SSDs (and new faster SSD interfaces) even in a totally solid state world. I think storage in a complex enterprise will always be heirarchical - because different types of SSD will be optimized for different functions - and it won't be economic to use a one type fits all deployment.
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