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decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise
meet Ken and the SSD software event horizon
key SSD ideas which sharpened focus in 2015
Exiting the Astrological Age of enterprise SSD pricing
Maxta offers free 24TB version of its SDS software

Editor:- September 29, 2016 - Maxta today announced the general availability of a free download of its MxSP SDS software for qualified organizations in the U.S., Canada and select European countries.

Approved registrants will receive a perpetual, transferable license to a fully-featured version of the software free of charge, enabling them to configure and deploy a three-node HCI cluster with a maximum storage capacity of 24TB.

lowering cloud wattage with low DWPD SATA SSDs

Editor:- August 4, 2016 - Although it's the faster SSD products (like PCIe SSDs and memory channel SSDs) which capture the attention of readers - because they show what is possible (and after a long enough interval we see pioneering enterprise speeds becoming commonplace at lower prices as we're now seeing with M.2 SSDs) nevertheless - when it comes to where most of the SSD slots are - the workhorse of the SSD market - in arrays, webscale and cloud - is still the simple 2.5" SATA SSD.

disk writes per day in enterprise SSDs
Well, maybe not that simple - because since about 2012 we started to see subtle power optimized and mostly read oriented (low DWPD) SATA SSD product lines being introduced specifically for use in dense populations in the cloud.

It's a big market for SSD vendors and SATA SSDs are a low risk choice for users because there are so many competing companies and products that ensure continuous improvements in value and quality.

A new addition to this crowded market is the - Nytro XF1230 (pdf) - a 1.9TB capacity SSD which consumes less than 5W, is rated at 0.67 DWPD - which Seagate announced will ship to channel partners next month.

Weka.IO has raised over $32 million for its SDS cloud cookbook

Editor:- June 8, 2016 - another new name unstealthing in the software defined storage market is Weka.IO, founded in 2014, which has announced the closing of Series B funding bringing its total capital raised to over $32 million.

Editor's comments:- In various slideshares by Weka.IO cofounder and CTO - Liran Zvibel - you can see how they're progressing with their big idea of enabling clouds and enterprises to have a single software based storage solution with good performance, efficiency and scalability.

There are interesting comments here about the latency impacts of garbage collection within the D software development environment.

Zvibel says an infrequent (few times an hour) latency of 10mS for GC can become an infinite wait if the kernel is stressed on memory.

The variability of DRAM latency took many years to be widely appreciated and is what created opportunities for PCM and flash as DRAM (Micron and Diablo in SCM DIMM wars) and also big PCIe RAM fabrics likes those from A3CUBE.

what was the spark of opportunity for Weka.IO?

Liran's slideshare (from 2014) - the future of the data center - includes this comment:- "IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, SAP, Dell and the like lost their ability to shape the future of data centers."

Pure's CEO says his legacy systems competitors are 2-3 years behind in flash/cloud centric software

Editor:- May 26, 2016 - Pure Storage reported that revenue for its recent quarter was approx $140 million, up 89% from the year ago period.

In his blog which recaps business highlights CEO - Scott Dietzen - comments on the nature of the competition he sees from legacy storage companies.

He says - "In our view, refurbished mechanical disk-era designs from the last century cannot fulfill the needs of the modern data center: solid-state flash memory and cloud demand a holistic rethink. Yet the majority of FlashArray's and all of FlashBlade's competition comes from pre-cloud disk-centric retrofits..." the article

Avere ranked #1 in Google's cloud partner search list

Editor:- March 16 , 2016 - How well does Avere Systems (and its virtual edge filer) work as a gateway to Google's cloud services? Apparently very well - as Avere today announced it had been named "Google Cloud Platform Technology Partner of the Year" for 2015.

Plexistor releases its Software Defined Memory

Editor:- January 26, 2016 - Plexistor today announced the availability of its Software Defined Memory (SDM) architecture for both on-premise and cloud-based deployment on EC2 for AWS.

Plexistor has a presentation (ppt) which outlines the launch product environment and gives indicative benchmarks.

Cache latency is key to side-channel attack technique which can breach cloud server security walls

Editor:- October 29, 2015 - Cache jitter and latencies are more than simply performance quality issues - they can be the root of security vulnerabilities too.

The juxtaposition of these concepts in colocated cloud servers presents risks which were reported recently by researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

The research team used a combination of techniques to first create a virtual machine on the same Amazon cloud server as a target machine (a technique known as co-location). They then used the co-located machine to spy on the target. By observing how it accessed information in memory, they could determine when it was retrieving its RSA key. Then by charting the timing of the memory access they were able to deduce the key's actual numeric sequence. the summary

OCZ does that 3rd generation SSD firmware cloud thing (but gives it a better name)

Editor:- October 16, 2015 - It's no longer just the newcomers to the enterprise SSD market who are doing that 3rd generation / co-operative (whatever you want to call it) SSD controller firmware and host stack collaboration thing.

OCZ this week announced they're doing it too.

It's available in the Saber 1000 (2.5" cloud oriented, read mostly SSDs). And they've got a better name for it too - "Host Managed SSD Technology".

"Our new Saber HMS SSD, together with a software library and API, enable for the first time (in OCZ's product line) software orchestration of internal housekeeping tasks across large pools of SSDs, thus overcoming performance barriers that were simply not possible to address without this technology" said Oded Ilan, GM of OCZ's R&D Team in Israel.

"With HMS APIs, a host can coordinate garbage collection, log dumps, and drive geometry data" (and graphics too) in OCZ's HMS product brief (pdf)

Lite-On says small NVMe M.2 PCIe SSDs could be a good fit for datacenter

Editor:- August 6, 2015 - Lite-On today unveiled a new NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD for datacenter environments.

The EP2 series delivers R/W IOPS up to 250K /25K respectively and low latencies of 35/35 (µs). It also has power loss protection, scalability, end-to-end data protection, low power consumption, high endurance, sustained performance, and customized firmware.

Editor's comments:- in an earlier press release (in June 2015) about supplying a related product line to an unnamed customer described as "one of the largest cloud service providers" Jeffrey Chang, Lite-On's Technical Product Manager said "The M.2 is perfect for where we believe the future of enterprise SSD cloud storage is going."

SuperCloud rebuilds RAID 20x faster with CoreRise PCIe SSD

Editor:- July 3, 2015 - CoreRise today noted some record breaking performance results from one of its customers - SuperCloud (a well known Chinese cloud server manufacture) based on a configuration with CoreRise's PCIe SSDs in a 4U server with 2x 56Gbs InfiniBand ports.

Among other things SuperCloud said its lab results showed that RAID rebuilding was 20x faster than without the SSD - using a RAID5 configuration of 6D+1P. While RAID throughput was 10 to 14GB/s and 1 to 1.5 million 4KB IOPS.

bath tub curve is not the most useful way of thinking about PCIe SSD failures

Editor:- June 15, 2015 - A recently published research study - Large-Scale Study of Flash Memory Failures in the Field (pdf) - which analyzed failure rates of PCIe SSDs used in Facebook's infrastructure over a 4 year period - yields some very useful insights into the user experience of large populations of enterprise flash.
  • Read disturbance errors - seem to very well managed in the enterprise SSDs studied.

    The authors said they "did not observe a statistically significant difference in the failure rate between SSDs that have read the most amount of data versus those that have read the least amount of data."
  • Higher operational temperatures mostly led to increased failure rates, but the effect was more pronounced for SSDs which didn't use aggressive data throttling techniques - which could prevent runaway temperatures due to throttling back their write performance.
  • More data written by the hosts to the SSDs over time - mostly resulted in more failures - but the authors noted that in some of the platforms studied - more data written resulted in lower failure rates.

    This was attributed to the fact some SSD software implementations work better at reducing write amplification when they are exposed to more workload patterns.
  • Unlike the classic bathtub curve failure model which applies to hard drives - SSDs can be characterized as having early an warning phase - which comes before an early failure weed out phase of the worst drives in the population and which precedes the onset of predicted endurance based wearout.

    In this aspect - a small percentage of rogue SSDs account for a disproportionately high percentage of the total data errors in the population.
The report contains plenty of raw data and graphs which can be a valuable resource for SSD designers and software writers to help them understand how they can tailor their efforts towards achieving more reliable operation. the article (pdf) See also:- SSD Reliability

Caringo gets patent for adaptive power conservation in SDS pools

image shows software factory - click to see storage software directory
SSD software
Editor:- May 19, 2015 - Caringo today announced it has obtained a US patent for adaptive power conservation in storage clusters. The patented technology underpins its Darkive storage management service which (since its introduction in 2010) actively manages the electrical power load of its server based storage pools according to anticipated needs.

"The access patterns and retention requirements for enterprise data have changed considerably over the last few years to a store-everything, always accessible approach and storage must adapt," said Adrian J Herrera, Caringo VP of Marketing. "We developed Darkive to help organizations of any size extract every bit and watt of value while keeping their data searchable, accessible, and protected."

See also:- petabyte SSDs, the big market impact of SSD dark matter

another design win for Seagate's Nytro in China cloud market

Editor:- March 12, 2015 - QingCloud mentioned high capacity and low cost among the reasons for selecting Seagate's XP6209 (pdf) (PCIe SSD) as components to build the low latency SSD infrastructure of its cloud services for the China market - in a press release today.
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market research

Editor's comments:- who are the new cloud companies in China?

Meet China's Cloud Innovators - a blog by Charlie Dai, Principal Analyst - Forrester Research

See also:- the big market impact of SSD dark matter

the Top 10 Hyperscale Sites

Editor:- December 10, 2014 - IT Brand Pulse recently published a new list - the Top 10 Hyperscale Sites - measured by square footage on its publication - World's Top Data Centers . So you won't be surprised IT Brand Pulse says - "These hyperscale sites are some of the biggest data centers around the world..." the article

70% of raw enterprise storage capacity will be in hyperscale datacenters by 2016

Editor:- December 9, 2014 - In its Datacenter Predictions for 2015 press release today - IDC says - "By 2016, hyperscale datacenters will house more than 50% of raw compute capacity and 70% of raw storage capacity worldwide, becoming the primary consumers/adopters of new compute and storage technologies."

Efficiency is important for web scale users - says Coho

Editor:- October 9, 2014 - Facebook as a file system - a web scale case study - a new blog by Andy Warfield , cofounder and CTO - Coho Data - made very interesting reading for me - as much for revealing the authoritative approach taken in Andy's systematic analysis - as for the object of his discussion (Facebook's storage architecture).

It reveals useful insights into the architectural thinking and value judgments of Coho's technology - and is not simply another retelling of the Facebook infrastructure story.

When you read it you may get different things out of it - because it's rich in raw enterprise ideas related to architecture, software, and dark matter users. All of which makes it hard to pick out any single quote. But here are 2.
  • re - the miss match between enterprise products and user needs

    Andy Warfield says - "In the past, enterprise hardware has had a pretty hands-off relationship with the vendor that sells it and the development team that builds it once it's been sold. The result is that systems evolve slowly, and must be built for the general case, with little understanding of the actual workloads that run on them."
  • re efficiency and utilization

    Andy Warfield says - "Efficiency is important. As a rough approximation, a server in your datacenter costs as much to power and cool over 3 years as it does to buy up front. It is important to get every ounce of utility that you can out of it while it is in production."
There are many more I could have chosen. ... read the article

WORM hard drives - now a reality

Editor:- August 20, 2014 - From time to time I get an email from a new (to me) company which really grabs my attention. Here's one such which arrived this morning.

"We now have the WORM hard disk you refer to in your article in (Introducing WORM Hard Disk Drives - February 28, 2005).

"It was developed for the Department of Justice, and is now in use, by GreenTec-USA, Inc. in conjunction with Seagate. Can we send you some information? Would love to hear from you!" - Bob Waligunda, VP of Sales at GreenTec-USA.

Editor's comments:- I haven't spoken to Bob yet - because of the time difference. But here's some info I got from GreenTec's web site:-
  • GreenTec WORM whitepaper (pdf) - "Organizations today have demanding needs to ensure that their sensitive data is protected. Considerable damage could be done if critical or sensitive files are deleted or altered either accidentally or intentionally"
The interesting thing for me is it shows that innovation in the hard drive market hasn't stopped completely. And GreenTec's 3TB (for now) WORM drives are also available as arrays in micro cloud blocks.

I had almost forgotten about my 9 year old WORM HDD (market needs this) article. I'll update it later with this note.

Linking this back to SSDs - there have been several companies in recent quarters who have announced physical write-disable switches into embedded SSDs - including:- See also:- SSD security, military SSDs

EMC acquires cloud piped via iSCSI company TwinStrata

Editor:- July 8, 2014 - EMC has acquired TwinStrata

what's different about Tegile?

Editor:- June 24, 2014 - Tegile is a relative newcomer to the pages of (first SSD news citation in February 2012) and - frankly - I didn't think too much about the company to begin with - but I do now.

You can see the gory details of how and why I recently changed my mind in the new article - an SSD conversation with Tegile.

What's that got to with cloud technology? You'll see if you read the article.

Seagate agrees to acquire LSI's SSD business

Editor:- May 29, 2014 - I think big cloud customers and web entities who need high volumes of good enough enterprise SSDs at "value" prices - could be part of the thinking behind Seagate's acquisition of LSI's SSD business - announced today. more in SSD news

Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise

Editor:- May 28, 2014 - today published a new article - Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise for rackmount SSDs

Who's got your keys?

Editor:- April 5, 2014 - "Think about it" says Chandar Venkataraman, Chief Product Officer, Druva - "If your service provider has access to your encryption keys, can you really say that your data is secure?"

That's just one of the thought provoking ideas in his new blog - 5 Things You Didn't Know About the Cloud

See also:- SSD security, SSD enterprise software

Coho Data now shipping 2U MicroArray hybrids

Editor:- March 6, 2014 - Coho Data today announced general availability of its first product - a 2U SSD ASAP called the DataStream (an SSDserver 4/E) - which integrates PCIe SSDs, hard drives and a server into a web scale expandable unit (using an internal 52 port 10GbE fabric switch) to implement what the company refers to as a "MicroArray" designed with the philosophy of "Turning Tiering Upside Down (pdf)" to deliver a base building block unit of 180K IOPS performance (4KB).

Editor's comments:- you may judge for yourself the lofty scale of Coho's ambitions by this market soothsayer quote which they integrated in the launch press release - "By 2017, Web-scale IT will be an architectural approach found operating in 50% of Global 2,000 enterprises."

See also:- SSD hybrid arrays, meet Ken - and the enterprise SSD software event horizon

LSI blog discusses customer driven technology changes in the hyperscale datacenter

Editor:- March 4, 2014 - "It's no longer enough to follow Intel's ticktock product roadmap" - says Rob Ober, Processor and System Architect LSI - in his new blog about Restructuring the datacenter ecosystem - in which he goes on to say...

"Development cycles for datacenter solutions used to be 3 to 5 years. But these cycles are becoming shorter."

And when talking about rack scale architectures - Rob says "Traditionally new architectures were driven by OEMs, but that is not so true anymore."

Editor's comments:- I could have picked out several other things I like (and agree with). - Your favorite snippets may be different to mine. I'm looking foward to the next 2 articles in this series. the article

See also:- meet Ken - and the enterprise SSD software event horizon

Atlantis provides more evidence of the trend towards massively improved enterprise utilization enabled by SSD-aware software

Editor:- February 11, 2014 - Atlantis Computing today announced that the new "In-Memory Storage Technology" release of its storage virtualization software - called Atlantis ILIO USX - can significantly increase enterprise utilization by enabling users to deploy up to 5x more VMs on their existing storage.

See also:- ILIO USX faqs (pdf), enterprise utilization and the SSD event horizon, SSD ASAPs, SSD software

what changed in SSD year 2013?

Editor:- December 9, 2013 - unlike the hard drive market where the basic ideas haven't changed much in recent decades - the important ideas in the SSD market seem to change every year. Reviewing what those ideas are - (which to assimilate and which to forget) is the theme of my new home page blog.

Permabit has shrunk data storage market by $300 million already

Editor:- September 30, 2013 - Permabit today announced that its flash and hard disk customers have shipped more than 1,000 arrays running its Albireo (dedupe, compression and efficient RAID) software in the past 6 months.

"We estimate that our partners have delivered an astonishing $300 million in data efficiency savings to their customers" said Tom Cook, CEO of Permabit who anticipates license shipments to double in the next 6 months.

See also:- SSD efficiency, new RAID in SSDs, SSD software

SolidFire - as an anti-jitter service in the cloud

Editor:- August 19, 2013 - SolidFire provides the underlying rackmount SSD support for a new SSD empowered cloud product Platform as a Service (PaaS) being offered by IT Solutions Now which I learned about in a blog by Sorab Ghaswalla on Software Tools Journal.

Editor's comments:- cloud companies - like the stars in the sky - are nearly numberless - however if you want to see a partial list of who they are - SolidFire's news page is cluttered with the names of cloud companies - and reads almost like a set of audited customer accounts than a technology news forum - which can be off-putting - if like me - you're looking for SSD content - rather than SSD investment fodder.

But although I couldn't find any mention of this particular story on my brief visit to their website this time around - I was reminded about an interesting observation which SolidFire had written about earlier (in February 2013) regarding the performance and QoS impacts that "Noisy Neighbors" can create in a shared storage infrastructure.
Their leading theme is cloud service providers - but this issue is also critical to almost any realistic deployments in an enterprise context - and is the implicit reason that many architects have preferred to isolate critical apps servers in the past - even within their own datacenters - rather than risk mixing them all up in pools.

In a cartoon (they call it an "infographic") - Noisy Neighbors in the Cloud (pdf) - SolidFire captures the essence of this performance randomizing problem - whose solution (you guessed it) is to use more (of their) SSDs.
... noisy neighbor graphic by SolidFire
See also:- bottlenecks and SSDs, can you trust SSD performance benchmarks?, SSD scalabilities and symmetries

SanDisk invests in Panzura

Editor:- June 27, 2013 - SanDisk today announced it has invested in Panzura - which makes auto-tiering (from NAS to the cloud) rackmount SSD ASAPs.

Micron turns up the heat for adoption of 2.5" PCIe SSDs

Editor:- May 3, 2013 - Micron recently announced it's sampling a new model in the hot swappable 2.5" PCIe SSDs market - the P420m has upto 1.4TB MLC capacity and can deliver 750K R IOPS. Micron specifies endurance as "50PB of drive life".

Editor's comments:- Micron is also offering half height, half length PCIe SSDs in the new range - but to my mind it's the 2.5" drives which are the significant part of this announcement.

I wrote about the impact these new drives could have on traditional PCIe SSDs and SAS SSDs in an article 12 months ago.

To summarize the main points in that... the new form factor for PCIe will displace high end SAS SSDs and likely make the 12Gbps SAS drives the last generation of SAS as "performance drives".

SAS SSDs will in turn replace SATA SSDs as the removable drive of choice in traditional legacy fast-enough enterprise arrays.

The new 2.5" PCIe SSDs will open up new markets in cost sensitive incrementally upgradeable fast SSD racks.

At the high end of the server side accelerated market, however, and particularly in dark matter data centers where the rack is seen the replacement unit - I'm sure that good old PCIe SSD cards and modules will continue to hold their ground - because they have lower packaging costs and can be designed to be more efficient than smaller form factors.

As discussed earlier this week - traditional PCIe SSDs will also facing pressure from memory channel storage SSDs. But MCS won't impact 2.5" PCIe SSDs.

before you start selling shares in any particular company - I'm talking here about market juggling and realignments which will take 2-3 years to have a material affect on existing market sizes and revenue. These changes won't happen overnight. And these game changers in the enterprise SSDs market aren't taking part in the context of a zero sum game. The enterprise SSD universe is expanding.

And here's another thing.

Last year I told Micron's top SSD marketers that they weren't in tune with the needs of enterprise SSD specifiers - because they had hopelessly slow and antiquated processes for extracting technical information of the type that serious buyers needed.

They seem to have taken those criticisms on board - because now you can swim around in the info they've got about their new enterprise SSDs on their web site - without having to sign NDAs and without waiting weeks to talk to the person who knows what's missing on the datasheet. Still some details missing - but it's a vast improvement on what they were doing before.

Some of you may think it's ironic that it's not Micron who's doing the flash thing for memory channel SSDs. But bear in mind that semiconductor companies have to feed the fab. And their priorities are to engage in established markets where there is already known demand for millions of chips. Big memory companies don't usually get involved in blue sky system innovation - except in ORG type wolf packs.

Micron's got its own thing going with hypercube memory. And - as I've said before - if that flies - it's another gating point for flash (if flash is still around when that happens).

Fusion-io positions ioScale for huge SSD installations

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.

Editor's 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 consumer market 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 call:- new dynasty and dark matter respectively.

Rick White CMO 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.
  • how they assess the cost / benefit of features within SSDs
The 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 advantage.

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 scalable SSD 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

When 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.

The dark 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.

During my conversation with Rick White - I referred back to the ION 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 rackmount SSD).

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 point.

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 were.

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 the answers.

Fusion-io isn't the only SSD company who is getting value business insights by researching its strategic customers.

I reported last year that SanDisk had adapted its approach to enterprise customers by deciding to support competing hardware with its FlashSoft software. And there are many more examples I could mention if I had the time.

Strategic Transitions in SSD

Editor:- December 28, 2012 - the new home page blog on is called Strategic Transitions in SSD.

AI in the cloud needs SSDs

September 28, 2012 - "Consumer products are moving more and more towards that touch of artificial intelligence and in particular speaking to your devices and having your voice sent off to the cloud, recognised and analysed on good computers there and transmitted back" - said Steve Wozniak Chief Scientist at Fusion-io in the interview / article - Data deluge - the need for speed

Amazon offers explicit SSD performance in the cloud

Editor:- July 19, 2012 - There are many ways SSDs can be used inside classic cloud storage services infrastructure:- to keep things running smoothly (even out IOPS), reduce running costs etc.

Amazon Web Services recently launched a new high(er) IOPS instance type for developers who explicitly want to access SSD like performance.

In 3 to 5 years time all enterprise storage infastucture will be solid state - but due to economic necessities it will still be segmented into different types by speed and function - as I described in my SSD silos article - even when it's all solid state.

I predict that when that happens - AWS's marketers may choose to describe its lowest speed storage as "HDD like" - even when it's SSD - in order to convey to customers what it's about. It takes a long time for people to let go of old ideas. Remember Virtual Tape Libraries?

$25 million C round keeps Nirvanix cloud flying

Editor:- May 3, 2012 - Nirvanix today announced it has raised over $25 million in a Series C funding round - bringing its total capital raised to $70 million.

One interesting thing is Nirvanix say keep self-healing replicas of customer data in multiple geo-diverse locations - not just static DR copies - which they say improves the data recovery experience.

Nimbus publishes tick test results

Editor:- April 25, 2012 - Nimbus Data Systems today announced that several key performance and operational characteristics of its S-class systems (iSCSI rackmount SSDs) have been validated by Demartek.
  • Throughput:- a single Nimbus S-Class 2.5 TB system with a dual-port QDR Infiniband connection delivered (near line-rate) 7.6 GBps performance on reads and over 2GBps on parity-protected (RAID 5/6) writes.
  • Support of Automatic SSD Enablement, a new feature in vSphere 5 (pdf) that leverages the low latency of flash technology to improve VMware operations with simplified out-of-the-box administration.
Editor's comments:- it's a complicated business doing meaningful SSD tests which can be used as an input into performance modelling. And I've seen many vendor funded SSD test reports which failed in that respect. But recently - as the market has got more experienced - some SSD vendors are changing the emphasis of their sponsored reports to show that their products can walk and chew gum at the same time. That's the message I pick up from this Nimbus press release. How much gum? And how brisk the walking pace? It will suit some users more than others.

OCZ ships 16TB CloudServ auto caching PCIe SSD

Editor:- February 14, 2012 - OCZ today announced imminent shipments of new high capacity PCIe SSDs optimized for cloud apps.

The Z-Drive R4 CloudServ (which uses 16x SandForce 2581 SSD processors) has up to 16TB of storage capacity on a single full height card and is supported by auto-caching SSD ASAP functionality (based on the acquisition of SANRAD's VXL) and OCZ's VCA 2.0 which together enable host migrations without loss of performance or interruption of service.

with economic certainty lost in the mist - university data heads for the clouds

Editor:- November 15, 2011 - the University of Southern California (USC) will deploy over 8PB of unstructured data on a private cloud managed by boxes and software from Nirvanix.

Customer spokesperson (CTO and Associate Dean of the USC Libraries) Sam Gustman said "We shifted to the cloud because it provides USC with a geographically diverse and cost-effective way of storing, preserving and distributing our content on a truly global scale."

Hybrid Memory Cube will enable Petabyte SSDs

Editor:- October 7, 2011 - Samsung and Micron this week launched a new industry initiative - the Hybrid Memory Cube Consortium - which will standardize a new module architecture for memory chips - enabling greater density, faster bandwidth and lower power.

"HMC is unlike anything currently on the radar," said Robert Feurle, Micron's VP for DRAM Marketing. "HMC brings a new level of capability to memory that provides exponential performance and efficiency gains that will redefine the future of memory."

Editor's comments:- HMC may enable SSD designers to pack 10x more RAM capacity into the same space with upto 15x the bandwidth, while using 1/3 the power due to its integrated power management plane.

The same technology will enable denser flash SSDs too - if flash is still around in 3 years' time and hasn't been sucked into the obsolete market slime pit by the lurking nv demons which have been shadowing flash for the past 10 years and been waiting for each "next generation" to stumble and be the last.

The power management architecture integrated in HMC and the density scaling it allows for packing memory chips (without heat build-up) are key technology enablers which were listed as some of the problems the SSD industry needed to solve in my 2010 article - this way to the Petabyte SSD.

SolidFire launches SSD cloud appliances

Editor:- June 21, 2011 - SolidFire has announced details of its first product - an iSCSI SSD appliance designed for cloud storage applications which the company says can scale to 1 petabyte capacity (which takes 100 nodes with current models).

Performance within a SolidFire system is virtualized separately from capacity, allowing cloud service providers to prescribe and guarantee performance to every volume within the system.

Editor's comments:- the company's SolidFire elements include features such as:- self healing data protection, always on availability, reservation-less thin provisioning , inline real time compression, cloning and snapshots, and dedupe, as well as adjustable managed IOPS and throughput performance windows.

These are the essential characteristics of what I called "bulk storage SSDs" in my article roadmap to the Petabyte SSD - although in that article what I had in mind is that by 2016 that a PB archive SSD library should fit into a single 2U rackmount.

If that seems far fetched - remember that a lot of things can change in the SSD market in 5 years. 5 years ago - in 2006 - the enterprise server flash SSD market didn't exist. 2006 was the 1st year of the notebook SSD market and there were only 36 makers of SSDs - compared to 300 today.

Compliance issues in Cloud Storage

Editor:- June 10, 2011 - A recent article in discusses the use of cloud storage for archiving.

Among other things - the author George Crump warns that - "The deletion of data from the cloud may be the most overlooked consideration." the article

Editor's comments:- - judicious deletion is also a strategic issue for long established web sites too. GerryMcGovern discussed that in his classic article - the Business case for deleting content.

All storage fails - design is choosing management preferences

Editor:- January 4, 2011 - the Future of Storage in the Cloud is the title of a blog on DataCenterPOST written by Patrick Baillie, CEO of CloudSigma (based in Zurich, Switzerland).

In it he discusses what he calls the "Myth of the Failure Proof SAN" and his preferences for managing inevitable failures.

Patrick Baillie says "When building out our cloud we made the decision early that we preferred more frequent low impact problems than infrequent high impact problems. Essentially we'd rather solve a simple small problem which occurs more frequently (but still rarely) than a complicated large problem that occurs less frequently. For this reason we chose not to use SANs for our storage but local RAID6 arrays on each computing node." the article

Overland says cloud tech can scale NAS VTLs

Editor:- October 14, 2010 - Overland Storage today announced that it has acquired MaxiScale - a cloud storage technology company.

Dr. Geoff Barrall, CTO and VP of engineering at Overland Storage said "The logical next step for us is to create a clustered scalable NAS forming a local cloud of storage. When the opportunity arose to acquire MaxiScale's well-regarded technology, we took notice. MaxiScale's architecture will provide our customers with the ability to scale hundreds of (our) SnapServers into one unified pool of storage."

TwinStrata gets traction with CloudArray software

Editor:- May 10, 2010 -TwinStrata announced new customer deployments of its CloudArray software - which delivers cloud storage functions (such as data replication, backup/restore, data archiving and DR) piped through an iSCSI connection.

TwinStrata says its software supports all market-leading hypervisors: VMware ESX/ESXi, Citrix XenServer, and Microsoft Hyper-V.

StorSimple fills "missing link" in cloud storage DNA

Editor:- May 4, 2010 - StorSimple has exited stealth mode - announcing a bunch of collaborative customer supply agreements - and disclosing info about its Armada storage appliance - which is designed to reduce the cost and simplify the integration of cloud storage within datacenter applications and infrastructure.

Editor's comments:- Just as application specific SSDs are the future for the SSD market - StorSimple's Armada system can be regarded as an application specific SSD ASAP which includes features such as real-time dedupe and cloud data encryption.

The simplest way to think about it is as "the missing link" between the promise of cloud storage and its practicality. The companies which have agreed to be named in StorSimple's company launch press release (Amazon, AT&T, EMC, Iron Mountain, and Microsoft) seem to think it's a noteworthy part of cloud storage DNA too.

New Image for Cloud Storage

Editor:- January 13, 2010 - a new article on discusses on-low cost and no-cost cloud storage offerings from Google.

The author David Coursey (and his commenting readers) make some interesting comparisons with Microsoft 's SkyDrive.

Personally I loathe the term "Cloud Storage". But I have to admit we're stuck with it. So today I changed the graphic on the online backup and storage page.

The old one - with the tag about "Spellerbyte was cooking up a new business plan which involved online web backup" - was appropriate when it was first published 10 years ago - but no longer fits this market's image today. I resisted the temptation to use an image compatible with the business metaphor of "sad losers" or "big black hole for VC investors."

Systemic Risk with "Cloud Think"

Editor:- June 4, 2009 - Burton Group today published an article called - Clouds and Systemic Risk.

The author Jack Santos says he thinks "clouds" are at a peak hype stage and ready for a big disillusionment phase.
cloud storage and online backup on
Spellerbyte's amazing magic carpet ride.
AccelStor NeoSapphire  all-flash array
1U enterprise flash arrays
InfiniBand or 10GbE iSCSI
NeoSapphire series - from AccelStor

"What scares me is when companies fall into the trap of trying to architect a single application to work across multiple different cloud providers. I understand why engineers are attracted to this.... Unfortunately, this effort eats into the productivity gains that compelled the organization to the cloud in the first place."
Stephen Orban, Global Head of Enterprise Strategy at Amazon Web Services in his blog - 3 Myths about Hybrid Architectures Using the Cloud (March 5, 2015)

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"High-performance SSD-backed storage is becoming table stakes for a growing number of cloud providers."
Google Cloud tests out fast, high I/O SSD drives - by Barbara Darrow, Senior Writer at GigaOM (June 5, 2014)

this way to the petabyte SSD
the Survivor Guide to Enterprise SSDs
The big market impact of SSD dark matter
What Killed The Storage Service Providers?
Introducing the concept of RAMClouds (pdf)
anatomy of a stalled online backup company acquisition
Flash SSDs replace HDDs at Amazon, Facebook, Dropbox
7 ways to classify where all SSDs will fit in the SSD datacenter
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SSD ad - click for more info
Looking back at the online storage and cloud market

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor
This market has seen many ups and downs in the past 15 years.

The online backup market flared most brightly at the height of the dotcom boom crazy days in the late 1990s. That convinced me to create a dedicated page for this subject. You can see an archived copy of the online backup page circa 2000 - here. Back then - I called it "Edrives & web based storage" - because "online backup" hadn't yet become a standard term back then.

I was unconvinced about the business models for many of these companies - which mostly relied on unsustainable web advertising. I'd been making my living from the sustainable kind (of advertising) - and knew the difference.

Sure enough - this segment of the storage market got itself a bad reputation for vendor churn and undependability in the long term.

You can get a flavor of how the online backup industry changed (and our web site too) in the years which followed, by clicking these archived links:- Now we're recently experienced another recession (caused by the credit crunch of 2008) and you've got to ask yourself this question...

If banks can fail - then why should you trust ANY online backup provider with your data?

The answer is - you shouldn't. Because history has shown these services can disappear overnight.

But on the other hand - there are many examples of where online backup has helped their customers survive in the event of floods, fire etc.

A pragmatic approach - would be to use 2 different types of offsite backup - which do not have common modes of failure due to sharing software or geography. That's the way ahead for this market.
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