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leading the way to the new storage frontier .....
pcie  SSDs - click to read article
PCIe SSDs ..
image shows software factory - click to see storage software directory
SSD software ....
image shows megabyte waving the winners trophy - there are over 200 SSD oems - which ones matter? - click to read article
top SSD companies ..
Rackmount SSDs click for news and directory
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memory channel storage
memory channel SSDs ...
.....
Editor:- July 23, 2014 - SanDisk today announced it has completed the previously announced acquisition of Fusion-io.

Fusion-io

Fusion-io is the leading supplier of fast SSDs in the PCIe form factor
which have been optimized for enterprise server acceleration.
The company has recently also become a significant competitive
presence in the fast rackmount SSD and hybrid array markets too.
Fusion-io - click for more info
.......
Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah
the company's flash based ioDrive has been validated as a significant
performance accelerator by leading server oems including HP, IBM and Dell.
..........
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Fusion-io fast SSDs - click for more info
the standard for enterprise PCIe SSDs
by which all others are judged
ioDrives from Fusion-io
Fusion-io - addresses and links
.... Fusion-io Sales
555 Twin Dolphin Drive Ste. 650
Redwood City, CA 94065
USA
tel:- +1 (801) 424-5500
url:- http://www.fusionio.com
.... Fusion-io Corporate
2855 E Cottonwood Parkway
Salt Lake City, UT 84121
USA
see also: - Fusion-io - editor mentions on StorageSearch.com


Who's who in SSD? - Fusion-io

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - August 1, 2014

Fusion-io was once again ranked #1 in the latest Q2 2014 edition of the Top SSD Companies. That article includes a summary update for most of the listed companies in Q2 - and poses this question...

Why was Fusion-io - the best known and most admired enterprise SSD company unable to survive as an independent company? This is really a question about the state of the SSD market - and the scale of investment and resources which are now needed to be a major presence and compete successfully. ...read the article


Editor:- January 29, 2014 - The 4th quarter of 2013 - was Fusion-io's 20th straight quarter at the top of the Top SSD Companies list - confirming it's still regarded as an uber super leading enterprise SSD company when it comes to ideas and products.

But it remained an uncomfortable time for the company's business - as in the 2nd half of 2013 - FIO continued to report revenues significantly lower than in the year before.

Over and above the organic competitive pressures arising from the greater competencies of competitors in the growing PCIe SSD market - Fusion-io (like some other companies in this market - such as Violin and Stec) had risen high on a tide supported by too narrow a customer base.

In addition - Fusion-io had some self inflicted problems of having increased the utilization efficiency of its products for its biggest customers too much too soon - which meant they didn't need to keep buying more products. (Fusion-io was simply the first vendor to hit this rock fast - but it's a factor which will haunt and trouble all enterprise SSD vendors in various times in the future - as I discussed in my article - meet Ken - and the SSD software event horizonn.)

In this quarter - under the guidance of new CEO Shane Robison - Fusion-io looked to me like a company with 2 main missions.
  • A corrective action program - to learn how to work as a traditional business (instead of an investment hungry startup) - and - to focus on the discipline of extracting more money from a wider base of customers and thereby increasing revenue (again) - but conditioned by the new discipline (for FIO) of also aiming to be profitable - sooner rather than later.
  • An identity correction program - (which the company was still thrashing through as I wrote this - and which could take years rather than a few quarters to resolve) - based on the corporate aspiration to change from being merely regarded as the leading vendor of enterprise PCIe SSD modules and software (which is significant enough in itself) - to add the new bold ambition of also becoming regarded as a leading rackmount SSD systems company.



Editor's comments:- October 2013 - In the 3rd quarter of 2013 for the 19th quarter in succession - in the Top SSD Companies list - Fusion-io was once again the #1 most searched and researched SSD company by the readers of StorageSearch.com.

In August 2013 - a reader asked me about the current significance of this - given the company's recent lack of revenue growth.

In general - I pointed to the proven record of this series which has tracked SSD search volume in the most influential focus group in the industry for over 6 years - an indisputedly significant factor which I discussed in the Q1 2013 edition.

Specifically - with reference to the recent period - and Fusion-io - there are many narratives which one could attach to this continuing degree of interest - over and above any temporary random spikes which accompany all SSD companies when they come into the glare of acqusiition or investment news or speculation.

Among other things - I said "there has been and still remains a huge amount of interest in understanding what Fusion-io's software does – and for most people in the SSD industry – their introduction to the PCIe SSD concept came from FIO. You can't understand the (SSD) market and technology dynamics of enterprise SSD without this (knowing what Fusion-io has done and is now doing)."


Who's who in SSD? - by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - April 9, 2013

Although the enterprise SSD market was already picking up steam years before Fusion-io launched its first ioDrive products in 2007 - Fusion-io has done more than any other SSD company before - or since - to change the way that ALL enterprise servers are sold.

It's now inconceivable that any new enterprise server product line would be designed and marketed without having some form of factory available flash SSD acceleration option designed at its heart. Fusion-io is the company which changed that. And all other enterprise SSD companies now benefit from that change in business thinking.

That's a huge and disruptive difference from the earlier decades of the SSD market when SSD companies had to work hard to explain to end users - one at a time - the most probable probable reason why their apps weren't running fast enough was due to defects in the design and implementation of traditional computer architecture - which wouldn't be economically fixed by simply buying more CPUs or playing games with overprovisioning hard drive arrays.

A snapshot overview of what Fusion-io is all about - is to say that the company is a leading innovator in these market segments:- In the past year or so Fusion-io has also become a serious player in the rackmount SSD market too.

The company started with a focus on new dynasty rather than legacy SSD installations - and it used to say that FC SANs were old-fashioned and inefficient - but nowadays FIO itself can pack a powerful punch in what used to be thought of as these legacy SSD applicatiuon silos too - with a particular appeal to huge "SSD dark matter" end users - a category of customers for whom it's worthwhile understanding how to extract every nuance of cost benefit from analyzing the way their apps interact with their SSDs.

Where can you find more of my analysis and commentary about FIO?

Many past quarterly editions of the Top SSD Companies - include short articles about what each company was doing in that quarter - and sometimes these articles relate to the specific strengths and weaknesses of companies with respect to technology trends.

For example - the Q2 2012 edition discussed FIO and other companies in the context of the challenge from adaptive R/W flash and DSP technology - such as that from Skyera.

Another place to look is the SSD history and storage news archives.

Having said that - if you just continue scrolling down this page - then you'll see selected highlights for FIO's SSD market milestones - extracted from SSD history month by month as it happened without having to click anywhere else. (That's the same format for hundreds of SSD companies - not just Fusion-io. It's just that some companies make more waves than others - so there's more to write about.

Here are some other articles I've written - which you may find useful too.

the Survivor's Guide to Enterprise SSDs
if Fusion-io sells more SSDs does that mean Violin will sell less?
what's so very different about the design of Fusion-io's PCIe SSDs?
Will Memory Channel SSDs work - and how will they impact PCIe SSDs?


This is an earlier version of Who's who in SSD? - Fusion-io - dated April 2012

Fusion-io is 1 of over 40 companies in the PCIe SSD market, 1 of a handful of companies in the InfiniBand SSDs list, has often appeared in the fastest SSDs list, and has been at the #1 slot in the Top SSD Companies List for more quarters than any other company.

Now this is the point at which - if Fusion-io were writing this preamble (instead of me) - co-founder Rick White would say (as he has often reminded me) that right from the outset when he first contacted me (while the company was still in stealth mode) he said that his company was really a software company which does things with flash. So another important directory you'll find them listed in is SSD software.

I've written about FIO many times before - so I'm not going to simply rehash all that stuff about new dynasty vs legacy storage here - or the pros and cons of big vs small SSD controller memory architecture. Nor will I repeat my analysis of why the company's ioDrive and ioMemory really are different to nearly every other type of enterprise SSD (not just similar looking PCIe SSDs).

What I'd like you to think about instead - is that here is a company - which has only been shipping SSDs for 5 years - but which has already made 4 profound changes to the course of the SSD market's 35 year history.This is the short version (in chronological order).
  • persuaded the enterprise server market - to actively promote accelerator SSDs
  • established wide -scale market acceptance for PCIe card enterprise SSDs - which didn't have traditional HDD interfaces and HDD storage form factors
  • showed that there's value in SSD companies (thereby being the prime catalyst for a string of acquisitions and other funding within the SSD market)
  • showed that if you invest in enough SSD software - you can change the rules about what is possible (1st billion IOPS SSD)
roping in the enterprise server market to actively promote accelerator SSDs

It's hard to overstate just what a great achievement it was when Fusion-io started to sign up the big server makers in 2009 in a series of deals which started with HP and soon after went on to include IBM and a year later Dell too.

Before then server makers had been unwilling to educate their customers about the possible advantages of SSD acceleration - because if they thought about it for more than a nanosecond - they feared that faster servers might lead to less server sales. As long ago as 2003 I predicted that as soon as any of the big server oems started to promote SSD accelerated servers - it was inevitable that the rest would have to follow - to prevent their own CPUs looking bad in comparative benchmarks. But I didn't think it would take another 6 years to happen.

Although some server oems had offered SSD solutions before 2009 - they were never promoted as part of the core server product line - but buried in technical sales lists - to be called upon in rare situations. Yet out of all the companies which had struggled with the problem of enterprise user SSD education for so many years - it was a relatively new entrant to the market which changed this paradigm forever. FIO didn't invent the solution - but FIO made it a market reality. In a few more years all new enterprise servers will be have SSDs inside.

establishing the acceptance of PCIe SSDs

Most analysts (myself included) were surprised by just how dramatic was the market's acceptance of PCIe SSDs as directly attached speedup storage compared to the long anticipated alternatives of traditional hard disk compatible SSDs such as SAS SSDs.

The earliest indication that this might become a market defining trend was in September 2009 - when StorageSearch.com detected that search volume for PCIe SSDs had overtaken that for 2.5" SSDs. I said at the time - "This is a tsunami warning event for SSD vendors addressing the enterprise server acceleration market." At the end of 2009 - 4 out of the top 10 SSD companies were marketing PCIe SSDs - but the company which did more than any other to excite users with the benefits of making this transition was Fusion-io. The logic was compelling. If you're going to go part of the way to speed up your server with a locally attached SSD - then you may as well go all the way and ditch the HDD interface latency too - to get better performance at lower cost.

Every major PCIe SSD competitor I've spoken to in recent years - has acknowledged the debt they owe to Fusion-io's marketing for making this part of the SSD market sound so sexy and helping it grow bigger and faster.

2011 - year of the FIO IPO

Before 2011 - one of the frustrations I had when writing about the SSD market was how to communicate to readers the significance of individual SSD companies.

It was bad enough that they operated in a niche market - the purpose of which was difficult for newcomers to understand - but as SSD makers were nearly all (with exception of STEC) privately owned companies (or small business units of publicly traded companies) I could say nothing about how big their revenue was - and how fast they were growing - even when I had been told these details.

Money is a convenient measure of how much a company or technology is worth - and in the first half of 2001 - there was a torrent of speculation about the possible value of SSD companies triggered by Fusion-io's IPO. Even direct SSD competitors became the beneficiaries of investors who - attracted by the growth rates in the SSD market - learned that it might be a somewhere to invest sizable chunks of loot.

looking ahead?

The thing about historic market shifts is - that you can easily recognize them when they happen - but they are hard to accurately predict in advance. Having said that - it's easy to predict that 2012 will be another year of massive growth in the enterprise SSD market.

Has FIO got what it takes to keep up its momentum? The SSD pie is getting bigger - but with more ways to slice it - it's actually getting harder for any single SSD company to capture (or retain) the imagination of the market. Effective marketing and the ability to leverage SSD software will all make a difference.

Would you rather buy a fast server SSD from a "software company" (like FIO) or a company which solves design problems with dedicated chips (like Texas Memory Systems)? Or is the winning market approach going to be a blend of something in between these 2 extremes?

One thing it's easy to be sure about - Fusion-io will continue to be a hot topic in SSD news for users and competitors alike for a long time to come.

For more info about Fusion-io take a look at the links above and FIO - editor mentions on StorageSearch.com .

I currently talk to more than 300 makers of SSDs and another 100 or so companies which are closely enmeshed around the SSD ecosphere - which are all profiled here on the mouse site.

I learn about new SSD companies every day, including many in stealth mode. If you're interested in the growing big picture of the SSD market canvass - StorageSearch will help you along the way. Many SSD company CEOs read our site too - and say they value our thought leading SSD content - even when we say something that's not always comfortable to hear. I hope you'll find it it useful too.
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Fusion-io milestones extracted from recent SSD Market History

In September 2007 - Fusion-io launched the ioDrive - a PCIe form factor flash SSD with upto 640GB capacity and 100K IOPS performance.

In August 2008 - Fusion-io added RAID protection to the flash memory array in its Fusion-io PCIe SSD and improved R/W performance.

In September 2008 - Fusion-io unveiled the ioSAN - a 10GbE or Infiniband attached flash SSD on PCIe form factor which will ship in 2009.

In February 2009 - Steve Wozniak became Chief Scientist at Fusion-io. Wozniak will act as a key technical advisor to the Fusion-io research and development group and will also work closely with the executive team of Fusion-io in formulating a strategy that will accelerate the expansion of major global accounts.

In March 2009 - Fusion-io announced an oem deal with HP whose new PCIe based StorageWorks IO Accelerator for HP BladeSystem c-Class servers is based on Fusion's ioMemory SSD technology. A low level formatting tool for the HP SSD enables users to choose what level of over-provisioning is used - as a performance tweaking option.

Also in March 2009 - Fusion-io announced an enhanced version of its ioDrive - called the ioDrive Duo which will ship next month. Capacity has doubled to 640GB with 1.2TB planned for the 2nd half of 2009. Performance has been enhanced too. The ioDrive Duo can easily sustain 1.5 Gbytes/sec of read bandwidth. Read IOPS performance is 186,000 (4k packet size). Write IOPS reaches 167,000 (4k packet size).

In April 2009 - Fusion-io was named the #1 company in StorageSearch.com's list of the the Top 10 SSD OEMs based on search volume in Q1 2009. This was the 1st time that the #1 slot had been held by a company which didn't make traditional hard-disk form-factor SSDs...."

Also in April 2009 - Fusion-io announced that its SSD technology has enabled HP to achieve 1 million IOPS (using 2KB random 70/30 read/write mix) and 8GB/s sustained throughput from a single ProLiant server. Working together in HP's ProLiant engineering labs in Houston, technologists from HP and Fusion-io built a system using 5x 320MB ioDrive Duos and 6x 160MB ioDrives in a single HP ProLiant DL785 G5 server, running with 4 Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors. Fusion-io's SSDs had earlier been the secret ingredient in an IBM "million IOPS" story in August 2008.

Also in April 2009 - Fusion-io announced it has closed $47.5 million in Series B funding and named a new CEO, David Bradford.

In June 2009 - Fusion-io announced it will ship a consumer optimized version of of its enterprise PCIe SSD family in July. Priced at $895, the ioXtreme has 80GB MLC flash capacity and average throughput of 520MB/s. Supported OS's include:- Windows XP, Vista and Linux.

In July 2009 - Fusion-io was once again named the #1 company in StorageSearch.com's list of the the Top 10 SSD OEMs based on search volume in Q 2009. Fusion-io's search volume was more than 2x as high as the #3 ranked company in this list indicating overwhelmingly high reader affinity for learning more about this company.

Also in July 2009 - Fusion-io announced the results of TPC-H benchmark tests sponsored by, and running on, Dell servers, and audited by Performance Metrics, Inc. The tested system achieved 28,772 QphH on a 100GB database, at a cost of $1.47 per database transaction. (The typical 3 year cost of ownership for the whole system including software is quoted as $41,998.)

In October 2009 - Fusion-io published a case study showing how their ioDrive SSDs helped MySpace reduce server count, claim back 50% rack space while increasing application performance (compared to its legacy SAS RAID system) and massively decreasing electrical power. As a result of this initial project - MySpace plans to replace all remaining 1,770 2U servers with Fusion-io enabled servers as they reach their end-of-life.

Also in October 2009 - Samsung announced it has invested in Fusion-io.

In November 2009 - Fusion-io unveiled details of a very fast PCIe form factor, InfiniBand compatible, flash SSD designed for 2 undisclosed government customers. Each ioDrive Octal card, occupies 2 slots and delivers 800,000 IOPS (4k packet size), 6GB/s bandwidth and has upto 5TB maximum capacity (implemented by 8x ioMemory modules.

In December 2009 - Fusion-io announced that its ioMemory PCIe SSD technology has been adapted by IBM who will remarket these solutions (initially with upto 320GB capacity) as its High IOPS SSD PCIe Adapters for use in System x servers.

In March 2010 - a video from Fusion-io was featured in a new directory of SSD videos - here on StorageSearch.com

Also in March 2010 - the company was featured in a cameo role in a futurological article - SSDs - reaching for the Petabyte.

In April 2010 - NextIO announced availability of its vSTOR S100 - a 3U PCIe connected SSD with upto 7TB modular capacity and 1.7 million IOPS (4TB model). The best way to think about it is "Fusion-io in a box".

In August 2010 - Fusion-io announced the availability of a new high density PCIe SSD - which supplies 1.28TB of MLC capacity on a single card. When used in concert with Fusion's recently released ioMemory Virtual Storage Layer the ioMemory technology delivers significant performance enhancements to achieve nearly 300,000 sustained IOPS.

In October 2010 - Fusion-io announced the opening of a new sales office in the UK.. The phone number is +44 (0)1295 264 33. The UK Sales Manager Trevor Cooper was previously at Data Domain.

Fusion-io also launched a new iniative - the Fusion-io Technology Alliance Program which help to accelerate the development and market dissemination of products which leverage the company's ioMemory technology.

In November 2010 - Fusion-io said it will ship a web based control panel - called ioSphere - for monitoring, analyzing real-time performance and controlling its SSDs sometime in Q1, 2011.

Fusion-io this month set new speed records with its double-wide slot ioDrive Octal SSD - achieving 1 million IOPS 6.2 GB/s of bandwidth while offering capacity up to 5.7TB.

In December 2010 - Fusion-io announced that it has been working closely with Credit Suisse to integrate ioMemory SSDs with its Advanced Execution Services trading platform to improve its data access performance, maximizing the effectiveness of its low latency trading platform architectures.

In January 2011 - Fusion-io announced a new distributor in Japan - Tokyo Electron Device - and reported that in the past 12 months it had shipped more than 15 petabytes of its enterprise flash SSD accelerators.

In March 2011 - Fusion-io announced it has filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the SEC for a proposed IPO of shares of its common stock.

StoneFly announced that it will integrate Fusion-io's ioMemory accelerators into its iSCSI storage systems.

In May 2011 - Fusion-io announced that more of its PCIe SSDs (including 640GB ioDrives and the 1.28TB Duo) are now available from Dell - which is also extending the number of server platforms supporting these accelerator options.

In August 2011 - Fusion-io announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire IO Turbine for approximately $95 million.

In September 2011 - Kaminario announced it has integrated Fusion-io's PCIe SSDs as a new option in its K2 FC SAN compatible SSD product line (which was hitherto RAM SSD only) to provide flash and hybrid storage options. Using the new options the K2 can provide from 3 to 30TB of non-stop, protected and self healing, blade server based flash storage in 4U to 12U of rack space with R/W latency of 260 / 150 microseconds at a list price of $30K / TB.

And also - Fusion-io announced that its new SureErase data sanitization tool has been confirmed as meeting Department of Defense sanitization standards by the Defense Information Systems Agency. SureErase enables users to securely remove/erase all data on any ioMemory-based technology, following DoD/NIST standards, regardless of capacity, in less than 1 minute.

In October 2011 - Fusion-io announced that it will sample new faster models in its range of PCIe SSDs in November. The ioDrive2 family (pdf) will offer R/W latency of 68 / 15 microseconds for the MLC models and R/W IOPS of 350k / 510K IOPS (512B) for the SLC models.

In November 2011 - Fusion-io said it's looking for more funding - another $300 million (approx). FIO says 3 customers accounted for 77% of their revenue in the most recent quarter in which the company reported revenue of $74 million - nearly 3x higher than a year ago. But the company anticipates its revenue growth rate for the whole of FY2012 to dampen down to about 55%.

Fusion-io announced that it will ship 10TB versions of its ioDrive Octal (so-called because it includes 8 memory modules on double-wide PCIe cards) in the next quarter - which deliver 1.3 million IOPS with 6.7 GB/s bandwidth.

In January 2012 - In a historic demo this month showing the capabilities of its latency reducing Auto Commit Memory (ACM) extension Fusion-io announced it had exceeded 1 billion IOPS (64 byte data packets) in a configuration which used 8 HP servers each configured with 8x ioDrive2 Duo PCIe SSDs.

In May 2012 - Fusion-io demonstrated its first ever 2.5" SSD - connected via SCSI Express.

In August 2012 - Fusion-io launched its ION software - a toolkit for bulding your own network compatible SSD rack by adding some Fusion-io SSD cards and their new software to any leading server.

In January 2013 - Fusion-io released a new PCIe SSD called the ioScale (3.2TB on a single half length PCIe slot) aimed at cost sensitive and 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.

In March 2013 - Fusion-io announced it had acquired another storage software company - ID7 - the primary developer of the SCST (SCSI target subsystem for Linux) - which had been collaborating on the development of FIO's ION data accelerator software.

In April 2013 - Fusion-io acquired NexGen Storage (an iSCSI hybrid array IP company) for $119 million.

In May 2013 - Fusion-io announced that its co-founders - David Flynn (who had been CEO and President) and Rick White (who had been CMO) have resigned and will pursue future entrepreneurial investing activities together. ...Later:- they cofounded a software company called Primary Data.

In September 2013 - IBM - which had been offering Fusion-io's ioDrive (PCIe SSD) technology in its product line since December 2009 became the first server oem to remarket the ioScale - a product described as having been optimized (price and feature set-wise) for huge end users in the SSD dark matter segment.

In June 2014 - Fusion-io launched 2 new gen 2.0 x8 standard height, half length PCIe SSD product lines - which they call the Atomic Series - and which uses 19nm to 21nm nand flash.

Also in June 2014 SanDisk announced a definitive agreement to acquire Fusion-io for approximately $1.1 billion.
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"From what I understand today, Fusion-io has 180 sales people that just sell to enterprises. We have today less than 10."
STEC's CEO, Mark Moshayedi - interviewed in StorageNewsletter.com (January 8, 2013)
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SSD ad - click for more info
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Fusion-io 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.

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.
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How will IBM's acquisition of TMS hit FIO?
First analyzed in SSD news. (September 25, 2012).

I returned to this theme - viewed from some other directions too in a later article (January 2014) - It's IBM Jim - but not as we know it
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"We'd probably buy EMC first..."
Rick White, CMO, Fusion-io

(email to the editor - October 29, 2012)

correcting the story

FIO acquires Microsloft's server business

Which appeared in "future SSD news" - here on StorageSearch.com in October, 2012
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"We could have turned flash into a pretend disk drive and gone into existing storage area networks, but that would have been a terrible mistake."
David Flynn, CEO, Fusion-io - September 27, 2012
in the article:- What does the Woz really do at Fusion-io?
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in memory database even better with FIO's flash
Editor:- November 20, 2012 - McObject recently released new benchmark results which indicate that the in-memory database company is not so unfriendly to flash SSDs as you may have thought from reading earlier company positioning papers.

It seems that a software product - which was originally designed for the DRAM-HDD world - is a good fit in the flash SSD world too - if you have the right scale of data and the right SSD. ...read more
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Fusion-io does a few new things
Editor:- August 2, 2012 - the performance and strategic importance of SSD software was reinforced in 2 recent announcements by Fusion-io.

Yesterday - FIO launched its new ION software - which is a toolkit for bulding your own network compatible SSD rack by adding some Fusion-io SSD cards and their new software to any leading server.

The concept isn't entirely new - because oems have been doing this with various different brands of PCIe SSDs for years and this is a well established alternative market segment for PCIe SSDs. What is new - is that it makes the whole thing much easier.

Fusion-io says this new software product "delivers breakthrough performance over Fibre Channel, InfiniBand and iSCSI using standard protocols." (1 million random IOPs (4kB), 6GB/s throughput and 60 microseconds latency in a 1U rack.)

Earlier this week FIO announced it was collaborating on getting interoperability in server-side flash and caching software with NetApp. It's easier now to write a list of major storage systems oems who aren't doing something significant with FIO.

Going back to SSD software...

In the 1990s Sun Microsystems created and leveraged the phrase - the Network is the Computer.
image shows software factory - click to see storage software directory I have long thought an apt reinterpretation of that in this decade is "the SSD is the computer" - or maybe the "SSD software is the computer" - because the ultimate characteristics of fast computers are determined more by the SSD architecture which is installed - than by the same old CPU chips.
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FIO demos 2.5" PCIe SSD
Editor:- May 3, 2012 - Fusion-io recently demonstrated its first ever 2.5" SSD - connected via SCSI Express (SCSI for PCIe SSDs).

"We believe that SCSI Express will be adopted as a leading standard for PCIe deployments. We look forward to collaborating with fellow STA members and leading SCSI experts to share our expertise in this area...". said Gary Orenstein, Fusion-io VP of Products.
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the buzz around FIO hasn't gone away
Editor:- April 2012 - Market analysts have been giving a lot of attention to Fusion-io in the past 12 months even if the context may be driven by anticipating the scattering effect on other SSD oem competitors who are in the same SSD free fire zone. Indeed so great was this mania in 2011 that I dubbed it - year of the FIO IPO. But even as I write this - 1/3 of the way through 2012 ( year of the enterprise SSD goldrush) the buzz around FIO hasn't gone away.

I get more questions about Fusion-io from readers who are investors and SSD analysts in banks than about any other company.

In March 2012 I was asked if the current valuation of FIO - at around $3 billion - was just a "bunch of hype?"

When I get this type of question I try to share my picture of the SSD market and where I think the technology is going. It's up to readers to figure out for themselves how much of this makes sense and whether to include some of it in their own thinking. I'm not an investor in any single SSD company or group of SSD companies. But as this is my company's 13th year selling enterprise SSD ads - and SSD ads are close to 100% of our business - you could say I'm invested in the success or failure of the whole SSD market.

reply to - is $3 billion for FIO hype?

This is what I said...

The valuation depends on your timescale.

I'm not an expert on shares. But I have been a good guesser at the relative values of companies.

Is FIO worth signficantly more than any other enterprise SSD company at the moment based on what they're known publicly to be doing?

In my view yes.

Is $3 billion justifiable?

My view is that enterprise SSDs will be a $100B / year market by the end of this decade - and that PCIe (or whatever replaces it) will be a sizable chunk of that pie.

Every enterprise server will have SSD acceleration inside the box - instead of less than 2% today.

Also - we're at the early days of figuring out what SSD software is worth.

Owning the SSD software layers which wrap around the servers could more important than owning the OS.

Are FIO smart enough to do that?

They employ 3 of the top 10 smartest SSD market people in the world that I know. So it's possible.

Another possibility is that when the SSD market gets much bigger than it is today - a memory maker like Samsung might want to acquire them.

FIO's software is the cheapest and most scalable way to convert unreliable flash into storage.

(This sentence below wasn't in my email reply - but has been added to this article.)

"FIO's technology is downwardly scalable too - to the notebook market for example - but the upwardly scalable part is where the value lies today."

There are many possible business models which could be built on this base.

As a cautionary warning - all technology companies have the ability to shoot themselves in the foot too.

I don't think any current known SSD competitor can beat FIO head to head in it core market (new dynasty enterprise storage) - although the alternative slots in legacy enterprise are equally big opportunities (for other companies).

But if FIO released a version of software which trashed customer data - for example - that would be worse for their reputation than recalls by Intel (which is thought of as being flaky in some enterprise circles. But Intel has enough alternative resources to recover temporary SSD setbacks.)
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"Apparently EMC evaluated the ioDrive and poked around the issue for months - but EMC was - at that time - "clueless" about the potential of the SSD market..."
...Editor:- from the news story - EMC gets around to PCIe SSD launch (February 2012)
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click to learn more about Fusion-io's SSD products PCIe, Infiniband etc -  and company

Like many leading SSD companies - Fusion-io chose the readers of StorageSearch.com as the first prospective customer market segment they invested their SSD advertising message dollars in.

That was a safe choice - because when Fusion-io started the world's first ads for PCIe SSDs here in 2008 - we had already been running enterprise SSD ads for 9 years.

The image shown above was the first ever banner ad designed to promote a PCIe SSD and was seen by millions of our readers. The only thing which changed from time to time was the product picture.


storage search banner
SSD ad - click for more info
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What will SanDisk really get from Fusion-io?
Editor:- June 16, 2014 - SanDisk today announced a definitive agreement to acquire Fusion-io in all-cash transaction valued at approximately $1.1 billion.

Editor's comments:- the result of combining the product lines from SanDisk and Fusion-io will be an enterprise SSD product offering which is unmatched in the industry in a broad range of enterprise SSD product categories including:-

from Fusion from SanDisk:- The acquisition will enable several new things which would not have been technically possible or profitably viable from either company on its own including:-
  • Fusion-io's software is scalable downwards into more market segments (such as consumer and commodity enterprise array components such as 2.5" PCIe SSDs) which were not attractive for FIO to pursue on it own.

    But for a flash memory company like SanDisk the ability to create controllerless SSDs - would enable entirely new product types to be built. - SSDs built on such technology (without internal microcontroller offload processors) would be the cheapest in class - compared to all traditional SSDs with internal CPUs.
  • Fusion-io's rackmount storage virtualization software will open up new markets for SanDisk's SATA SSDs.

    For example in the no-frills embedded rackmount segment SanDisk would be able to offer customers a rackfull of SATA SSDs as a basic integration component - thereby simplifying integration and support issues for customers who need large quantities of vanilla storage racks.

    And Fusion-io's hybrid array product line - is a ready made platform for spawning a new high end storage array - which could use low cost flash SSDs instead of hard drives.
At the high end business level - for SanDisk - the ability to monetize flash at the rackmount systems level (which is the most efficient way to convert raw flash chips into usable enterprise SSDs) is a rational next step from its acquisition last year of the world leading adaptive controller technology from SMART.

All memory makers are operating under self imposed constraints on investing new capacity for flash wafer starts - while they evaluate what comes next.

So one way to raise the revenue ceiling from the same raw flash is to own big controller architecture with high utilization effectiveness (like that from Fusion-io) which multiplies upwards how many petabytes of virtual usable flash can be delivered to satisfy users compared to other (more) wasteful designs and business channels.

That consideration - the ability to get more enterprise petabytes out from the same raw flash chips in - by shipping it through better architecture - is a more significant business factor in the flash memory market today than the ability to do another cell geometry shrink - or adding a few more layers of toppings on the 3D nand pizza.

summary

What will SanDisk really get from Fusion-io? - more usable flash petabytes out from the same raw wafer starts - due to better architecture.

and here's some more

For those interested in the emerging memory channel SSD market - I've written an article - which speculates what could happen to this class of flash DIMM SSDs in various hypothetical contexts - such as - whether or not SanDisk also acquires Diablo.

See:- MCS versus PCIe SSDs (another slight return)

and let's not forget that other - Why? - question

Why was Fusion-io - the best known and most often admired enterprise SSD company - unable to survive as an independent company? - Here are the technology and reasons
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SSD ad - click for more info
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new PCIe SSDs from Fusion-io
Editor:- June 5, 2014 - Fusion-io today launched 2 new gen 2.0 x8 standard height, half length PCIe SSD product lines - which they call the Atomic Series - which are available in 2 different price and application categories.
  • PX600 series - upto 5.2TB usable capacity, with 92S / 15S R/W latency, 2.7GB/s / 2.1GB /s R/W throughput and 375K write IOPS - designed for high end servers - with 5 years warranty.
  • SX300 - upto 6.4TB usable capacity - with similar latency to PX600 - but lower throughput (2.6GB/s / 1.2GB/s R/W throughput) and 16% lower power consumption - designed and priced for scale-out architectures and hyperscale environments - with 3 years warranty.
Fusion-io says that more than 7,000 customers in over 80 countries use its products to reduce latency and speed the flow of data-driven applications.
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a new CMO for Fusion-io
Editor:- May 12, 2014 - Fusion-io today announced that Michael Mendenhall (who from 2007 to 2011 was CMO at HP) has joined Fusion-io as executive VP and CMO.
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One consequence of this architectural decison is - less hardware in the SSD card - therefore much better intrinsic MTBF and potentially the lowest cost to build product
what's so very different about the design of Fusion-io's ioDrives / PCIe SSDs?
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"All our sales people are now ready to sell systems - and we don't regard NVM DIMMs as a threat to our PCIe SSD business."
Key messages from Fusion-io's Q3 conference call (April 23, 2014). See more in SSD news.
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FIO shows additive power of software brew
Editor:- April 2, 2014 - In a benchmark demonstration this week Fusion-io showed the combined advantages of using NVM compression in conjunction with its Atomic Writes APIs in SkySQL environments. The results indicate that:-
  • 2x as much data can be stored on the same flash media - while giving similar performance and latency to the uncompressed case with legacy software, and
  • using compression and the new APIs - reduces write traffic and improves endurance limited operating life by a factor of 4x
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ioControl Hybrid Storage Rack image  - from Fusion-io  - click for more info
a new dimension of affordability in enterprise SSDs
ioControl - iSCSI Hybrid Storage
from Fusion-io
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Conspicuously absent from DCIG's list of rackmount SSD vendors (at any rank) is Fusion-io. That's very odd.
DCIG's new buyers guide (March 31, 2014)

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SSD ad - click for more info

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Fusion-io seeks VARs for its rackmount technologies
Editor:- February 10, 2014 - Fusion-io recently announced that its systems level (PCIe SSD inside) products will be widely available from VARs in North America in in Spring 2014. Specifically these products include:- Editor's comments:- It takes less time to hatch a human baby than it has taken for Fusion-io to make the transition from first talking about some of these integrated systems to making them generally available.

Traditionally - SSD systems companies hid the messy product creation process - and preferred to launch their new rack babies when they were fully formed and ready to fly off the shelves. That's in contrast to drive makers who often start revealing what their plans are - long enough beforehand so that their customers can warm up to the idea.

In Fusion's case - what we've been seeing in the past 2-3 quarters is not so much the development of new rackmount product lines (because all the technology components already existed before) but what we've witnessed instead is the growth pangs and development of a new SSD systems business - jostling for adequate space and recognition within an already confident module and software business - with much of the thinking about the priorities being done out loud and visible to the public gaze.
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re Fusion-io's results - and the value of showing you can speak fluent rackmount when it's your logo on the outside of the box
Editor:- January 22, 2014 - Fusion-io today reported that revenue for the quarter ended December 31, 2013 was $94.5 million (22% decline compared to the year ago period).

Editor's comments:- As reported on these pages previously - and aside from the growing number of strong competitors in the PCIe SSD market - particular factors which compressed FIO's revenue growth were:-
  • sensitivity to big orders in previous years from a small set of super customers
  • competitive issues related to the rackmount SSD market - which is becoming a growing strategic part of the product mix for Fusion-io - as the company aspires to be the primary system brand - rather than - as in previous years - an almost invisible component inside someone else's box.

    In addition to the same issues which affect all established vendors in the SSD box market (lead times to identify, qualify and satisfy prospective users) - in many respects Fusion-io will still be regarded as a "rackmount newbie" by most enterprise SSD users - whether or not they are already customers of its server acceleration products. That's because there's a lot of stuff you have to know and prove as a vendor in rackmounts - which is different to the case with cards and modules.

    So although the evolving rackmount SSD market offers a potential growth opportunity and diversification of routes to market for Fusion-io - it's by no means an easy market to conquer - and vendors have to demonstrate by their investments in systems related testing reports and marketing - that they are serious.
The customer diversification theme was referred to in this earnings report - in which FIO's CEO Shane Robison said "...We are continuing to diversify our customer base, with nearly 6,000 end-user customers worldwide now using Fusion ioMemory-based solutions to accelerate their data center applications.

Also mentioned in this report was the company's continuing effort to demonstrate that it can "speak fluent rackmount" - citing new benchmarks and customers of its iSCSI hybrids.

Fusion-io continues to be cautious with its revenue guidance. As we've seen recently in the enterprise SSD market with other vendors - executing well technically - even in a fast growing market doesn't guarantee that you'll get the business - because competitors are growing in numbers and growing in specialized marketing competence too.

PS - I discussed the problems of being regarded as a "rackmount newbie" with Skyera's CEO recently - see more in the article Scary Skyera.
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reviewing Fusion-io's iSCSI hybrid
Editor:- January 1, 2014 - StorageReview.com recently published a report on Fusion-io's ION Data Accelerator software - which is a key ingredient in FIO's ioControl box (iSCSI hybrid rackmount system).

"Rolling the software out on our own server took less than 15 minutes start to finish" said StorageReview.com ...read the article
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"Fusion-io's relationship with my (new) employer, IBM, is still strong. If I were buying PCI Flash for Intel servers, they would still be my first choice."
Woody Hutsell in his recent blog - What a long strange year it's been (December 18, 2013)
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"the faster the user's CPU - the faster the (same) ioDrive SSD will run (upto a limit) which implies good market roadmap symmetry. This is a case of where the raw numbers - without the narrative - fail to tell the full story."
what's so very different about the design of Fusion-io's ioDrives / PCIe SSDs?
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how to turn around Fusion-io?
Editor:- October 23, 2013 - Fusion-io today announced several changes in key personnel coincidentally with its latest quarterly report - in which revenue ($86 million) declined 27% compared to the year ago period. The people changes include:-
  • departure of the company's CFO Dennis Wolf,
  • arrival of a new board member - Dr. Edward H. Frank (whose past includes Apple, Broadcom and Sun Microsystems).
Editor's comments:- you might think it's ironic that Fusion-io - the company which established the legitimacy of PCIe SSDs as a key center of gravity within enterprise technology space - has now turned to one of the industry's newest PCIe SSD vendors for a sense of business direction. But this makes sense for several reasons:-
  • there was a vacuum in marketing in FIO initially stemming from the departure of CMO Rick White 5 months ago.
  • In the same year in which LSI entered the PCIe SSD market it also became the #2 company in shipment volumes. So LSI does have some things it can teach Fusion-io about other ways it can do business - even if FIO's core technology assets in software are significantly better.
  • Over and above whatever is happening in the hotly contested PCIe SSD market - however - Fusion-io in the past year has also embarked on serious investments and customer facing commitments on a course which could (if executed properly) also make the company a leader in 2 product categories within the rackmount SSD market.

    I said "if executed properly" advisedly - because seen from an external perspective FIO's rackmount systems shop looks more like it has been resourced like a Cinderella sideline - as a stall dressed simply to sell more PCIe SSDs.

    If fast SSD boxes and hybrid arrays are a serious business opportunity for FIO (and I think they are) then it's not enough of a business development strategy to develop the raw technology, throw some webinars saying "it works" at YouTube - and waiting to see what happens.

    Fusion-io's rackmount SSD business - is going head to head with other competitors for whom this is their main thing. So FIO's systems business needs to have its own clearer sense of identity.

    That means more marketing, more resources and more cash to support the different business characteristics of selling boxes.
We'll have to see what new strategies emerge from the company. Doing more things better from a marketing perspective costs more - so some investors might howl in the short term. But if it takes them and FIO's customers to a better place then they've been sliding towards recently - the investors won't grumble.

PS - OK if you are one of those still grumbling - then before you send me an email - here's another footnote.

Maybe you didn't see the detailed bit at the center of my SSD software event horizon blog - which talked about the revenue pain which results from the escalating effect of SSD utilization improvements (from software) when they are delivered to a non diverse customer base in too short an elapsed time period.

The effect is the same as if Boeing rang up all its airline customers and said - we've got a new technology improvement which lets you carry 3x as many passengers in the same plane body while using the same total fuel. And BTW - we can deliver it to you as a free upgrade to your existing fleets too.

Now we all suspect that in the aircraft business - if they could do such an improvement - they'd hush it up - and hope instead to stretch out the competitive gain over 20 to 30 years. Because it would be bad business to do otherwise - as the airline passenger market couldn't grow fast enough to absorb such a rapid scale up in utilization efficiency.

But the SSD market is different. If you don't keep improving your products now - someone else will come along and take your place. And SSD passenger numbers have a long way to grow yet - because most apps servers aren't frequent flyers on SSD Airlines.
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Fusion-io accelerates shopping in China
Editor:- October 10, 2013 - The largest B2C online shopping site in China - which has 51 million registered users who make an average of 500,000 purchases daily - generating over 100 million pages / day - has improved its Microsoft SQL Server database query response times 9x by accelerating its infrastructure with ioMemory (PCIe SSDs) from Fusion-io - according to a press release yesterday.

According to the linked case study - the customer JD.com - also reduced its server count by 3 to 1, saved money on software licenses and other running costs and also improved operational reliability.
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"The leading advocate of ditching legacy APIs - Fusion-io - has always said that customers who go down this road with their solutions often see speedups in the 10x and upwards range.

Having said that - the company also has also been working on parallel routes to market in legacy compatible rackmount storage markets too - which are more oriented towards cost savings than simply speed. "
thinking inside the box - new directions in rackmount SSDs
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new route to market for FIO's ioScale
Editor:- September 26, 2013 - IBM - which has been offering Fusion-io's ioDrive (PCIe SSD) technology in its product line since December 2009 has now become the first server oem to remarket the ioScale - a product described as having been optimized (price and feature set-wise) for huge end users in the SSD dark matter segment at the time of its launch in January 2013.
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Fusion-io's webcast on rackmount related technologies
Editor:- September 11, 2013 - The other thing which Fusion-io would like you to recognize them for - is rackmount storage. The company yesterday announced that it will be talking about this in a webcast tomorrow (Thursday 9am PT).

Editor's comments:- Using PCIe SSDs as components within rackmount SSDs is already a well established concept in SSD's recent past - and expected to remain one of the key uses in enterprise SSD's future too.

A company called Dolphin launched the first such systems back in March 2009.

And Fusion-io's own ioDrives have been integrated by various companies within rackmount storage systems in the past starting with :- NextIO - as fast but software-less storage (April 2010), and notably followed in a very different way (as the raw flash in ultrafast high availability FC SAN SSDs) by Kaminario (September 2011).

But for anyone who thought this might be a good idea - but didn't see why they should have to buy this kind of solution from another new vendor - they only had to wait till August 2012 - which is when Fusion-io launched its ION product - a software bundle which enabled any user to build their own legacy software compatible fast FC SAN compatible SSD rack using a bunch of iodrives and almost any customer preferred standard server.

That created the possibility of a new competitive choice for those in the Violin performance category.

But for those interested in SSD acceleration whose needs for performance and cost were more modest - there would soon be another way they could use FIO's PCIe SSDs in a different way (as the flash cache in iSCSI hybrid HDD racks).

An early example of this in March 2011 - was iSCSI hybrid systems by StoneFly and then later we heard about iSCSI systems by NexGen Storage (which Fusion-io acquired in April 2013).

Nevertheless - for most people in the enterprise SSD market - the mere mortals who haven't already got inside Fusion-io's priviledged big customer gatekeeper orbit -it has been exceedingly difficult to get a coherent picture of whether these systems products are relevant - and if so - how to buy them.

Delays in getting that information were undoubtedly not helped by the need to assimilate the NexGen products into a business culture in which hard drives had previously been anathema - coupled with an ultra competitive market outlook (the quality and diversity of competing options facing users in this market is very high) and a reorganization due to the precipitous change in leadership 4 months ago.

So despite the title (Flash First for Hybrid and All Flash Storage) I'm sure that even more of you than usual - will be interested to learn what FIO has to say on this particular subject.

more links to FIO rackmount info - added later

re ioControl - FIO's aggressively priced hybrid rackmount for the iSCSI SSD market

ioControl Data Sheet

ioControl (short intro) on SlideShare.net

re ION - FIO's Violin-smasher class fast rackmount offering for the FC SAN SSD market

ION presentation slides on SlideShare.net

ION Data Accelerator Data Sheet
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Software used to be SSD's enemy.
Now it can be SSD's best friend.
Survivor's Guide to Enterprise SSDs
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Does LSI really compete with Fusion-io?
Editor:- June 26, 2013 - 3 years ago when LSI became the 163rd company to enter the SSD market I used the headline - "LSI will Compete with Fusion-io" - because it was a useful shortcut to my guess-ahead at what LSI might end up doing. This week LSI (reputedly the #2 company in PCIe SSD shipments) expanded its Nytro product line. If you're interested in Fusion-io's ioDrives - should you also care about LSI's new Nytro warp drives? ...read analysis in SSD news (June 2013)
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FIO's ION software in HP boxes enables Breakthrough Shared Storage Performance
Editor:- June 13, 2013 - The performance of Fusion-io's ION Data Accelerator software - which you can add to its PCIe SSD cards, any standard server and some FC adapters to roll your own SAN rackmount SSD - is the point of a new blog by the company today which celebrates recent benchmarks for 2, 4 and 8 processor HP server configuartions (pdf).
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"I was asked by a reader (who didn't want to be named here) if I could suggest any companies which have SSD software as powerful and far reaching as that of Fusion-io."
who are Fusion-io's toughest sofware competitors?
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SSD ad - click for more info
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"iSCSI used to be a yawn zone for SSD developments. But no longer. These 6 companies are worth knowing about if you have any iSCSI related plans.
Editor:- June 10, 2013 - iSCSI SSD market
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"Rick White and David Flynn - built a strong company which is one of the best known and admired in the SSD industry. Anyone who assumes that it will be easier to compete with FIO today than it was yesterday risks a severe battering."
Editor:- May 9, 2013 - in SSD news - commenting on the unexpected and sudden management changes which Fusion-io had announced the day before.
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Fusion-io enters the iSCSI array market
Editor:- April 24, 2013 - Fusion-io made 2 significant announcements today.

The 1st of these was anticipated:- FIO's financial results for the quarter ended March 31 - revenue of $88 million (down 27% from the preceding quarter and down 7% from the year ago quarter).

The 2nd of these was the real news - that FIO has acquired another company - NexGen Storage (for $119 million).

NexGen's n5 systems are SSD ASAPs (hybrid caching systems with integrated real-time dedupe and QoS controls for VDI apps) which use Fusion's PCIe SSDs in standard servers with conventional hard drives to deliver fast enough iSCSI hybrid storage for SME and departmental needs in a 3U rack which delivers upto 150K IOPS and 16TB to 192TB raw capacity.

NeGen claims that on a per-U basis their systems deliver 10x more IOPS than HDD arrays, 3x more IOPS / U than conventional hybrid arrays and 3x more GB / U for VDI apps than pure SSD arrays.

These kinds of comparisons always depend on which competitor you're comparing with and when the comparison was done. However - the company has enough customer case studies and independent analysis papers on its site to show that real customers liked the products.

Summing up the 2 stories today?

FIO had already indicated that its revenue from its known biggest customers would decline for a few quarters - so the financial results are not a great surprise. But the NexGen announcement has opened the door to an entirely new type of customer for Fusion-io at the other end of the SSD adoption scale - compared to the well known big customers which have until now dominated FIO's business.

Will it work?

FIO is used to being the leader in the PCIe SSD market which it largely helped to create as a significant new part of the server ecosystem. But it will require a different type of marketing and business development approach to convert the potential of NexGen's technology into an equivalent leading role in the more conservative and crowded iSCSI market.

On the other hand if you add NexGen's hybrid iSCSI IP to the marketing magic of Fusion-io - it's safe to predict that the iSCSI market will soon be getting a wake up call the likes of which it has never seen before.
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one of HP's most famous former employees
Editor:- April 7, 2013 - HP - which began shipping Fusion-io's PCIe SSDs in its servers 4 years ago - is now integrating FIO's ioFX SSDs into some of its workstations aimed at the movie and video editing market - it was announced today.

Editor's comments:- in a blog about this - HP's head of (related) product management Jeff Wood used the phrase - "one of HP's most famous former employees" - to describe Steve Wozniak - who before founding Apple - and long before becoming Chief Scientist at Fusion-io - worked at HP designing calculator chips.
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Fusion-io acquires SCSI target IP team
Editor:- March 18, 2013 - Fusion-io announced today that it has acquired another storage software company - ID7 - which had been collaborating on the development of FIO's ION data accelerator software.

ID7 was the primary developer of the SCST (SCSI target subsystem for Linux) that enables replication, thin provisioning, deduplication, high availability, and automatic backup on any Linux server or appliance.

We had an opportunity to work with Fusion-io on the development of the ION Data Accelerator... said Mark Klarzynski, Founder and CTO of ID7 (who blogged today about the acquisition).. Were excited to join the Fusion-io team...
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9 million IOPS in a single ioDrive2
Editor:- March 5, 2013 - Fusion-io today announced it has achieved 9.6 million IOPS (64 byte) from a single 365GB MLC ioDrive2 (PCIe SSD).

This performance is made possible using APIs in Fusion-io's ioMemory SDK (such as Auto-Commit Memory) which integrate flash into host systems, allowing data to bypass normal bottlenecks in the OS.

FIO says its APIs have been embraced by dozens of industry-leading software companies to enhance their applications.
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If an SSD company is worth significantly more or less (or about the same) on a Friday than it was on the Monday...
Editor:- January 30, 2013 - Fusion-io's results will be announced when the markets close today, and because of FIO's position in the SSD market - it seems like many people just hold their breath and wait to see what happens.

I wrote about this tense waiting period for investors, customers and (even) competitors in an article 3 months ago called - SSD investments, x8 flash, and ETs - which may calm you down if you're feeling anxious.

...Later:- January 31, 2013 - the results reported were:- revenue of $120 million in the recent quarter, up 43% from the year ago period.

For any other company that would be a great result - but FIO had to explain to stakeholders why its revenue growth apparently slowed down. More details in their press release.

Even before looking at what FIO said I wasn't surprised to see a small slowdown in growth. With so many different ways to do the same type of acceleration now in the market - and so many complex new SSD software options available - I suspect it's taking even dedicated FIO customers a bit longer to evaluate and optimize the exact configuration of the solutions they need - even when they have already bought into the idea that they want more of something that's nearly the same.

Customer pragmatism comes into it too. The SSD platform decisions being made now - will have to make sense in 5 years time too.

...Later still:- February 1, 2013 - a reader asked me to expand on the above point - particularly given his concern that FIO is suggesting that revenue may be even lower in the next quarter.

Please bear in mind that this is my own analysis and speculation of what may be happening in the market right now. Most of the text below is cut and paste from an email I sent to a reader shortly before putting it on this webpage.

re - what could cause big enterprise SSD users (in new dynasty apps) to slow down their uptake of SSDs for a while - given that analysts like me have projected that the total adoption in this market will grow a lot this year?

The dynamics of big SSD customers go like this...

They like SSDs.

They've seen details of new upcoming products or memory technologies which look cheaper than what they're buying but maybe the software for the new stuff isn't what they want yet.

If they're a big Fusion-io customer they obviously like FIO but if the customer isn't careful how they fit the FIO stuff into their company framework they know they'll be locked into FIO just as much as previous generations were locked into IBM360 or VMS or Solaris so they're looking at all the other things in the market - including other suppliers and ways of doing things - and trying to figure out - is there a way to use more of this FIO stuff easily without getting locked in?

And how about the other SSD silos in the enterprise where FIO isn't a supplier - but somehow it all has to play together?

There are many variables to optimize - and it's naiive to pretend they can all be kept separate and managed independently forever.

THE SSD SOFTWARE PLATFORM will become the way that users will interpret all SSD purchases in future. I think about 5 different companies have a viable prospect of owning that enterprise front end and being important gateways in the enterprise SSD world. I've talked to most of them and to other companies who want to be the SSD platform.

Prospects for users are scary as they realize SSDs are not a short term fix but will become the biggest place they put their future server budgets in. It means that users will wait and try and figure things out. But if they wait too long their infrastructure slows down. gets less competitive.

The odds are if you've already got FIO (or some other vendor's key SSD tool which works) you are already locked in but just don't want to admit it.

Are you safer using FIO through a 3rd party - SanDisk / FlashSoft platform? yeah maybe - if that's possible - but then you lose the performance - you could get from embedding Fusion-io's APIs.

And BTW SanDisk has only been in the software business for a handful or quarters.

ditto comments re - OCZ's VXL

Customer navel gazing and SSD software lock-in concerns are real and serious. But not easily solvable.

Once you start using SSDs you can't stop using more.


The future SSD purchases will have to be made (with someone). Some problems have no tidy solution. Figuring out the best way to architect SSD datacenters and creating internal standards takes time. But there isn't any time.

Another simpler answer - given in FIO's own conference call - but which I hadn't heard till after writing this piece - is that if the customers are getting cleverer at using SSDs - what CEO, David Flynn referred to as their increased efficiency - then in the short term they can do the same workload they planned earlier with less SSDs - for now.

But it's reasonable to assume that will simply lower the viability threshold for using SSDs in other new functions too - because the SSD cost per added business customer value is better. Which means even more SSD demand from new apps down the road.

Meanwhile users who have stuck rigidly with legacy SSD architectures - think they don't have to worry so much about these issues - because the SSD fits into their pre-existing schema for doing things. But even the legacy SSD solutions have started to add personality traits. And even legacy architecture SSDs will have to fit into your future SSD software platform.

Legacy apps users can delay for now making these decisions and still avoid getting too stuck into any single supplier - but they will have to go through the same tortuous company-wide SSD needs analysis themselves too - in the next year or so too - in order to get the best value for what they're doing.
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