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IBM is the world's largest information technology services and consulting provider. Some 190,000 professionals in more than 160 countries help clients integrate information technology with business value -- from the business transformation and industry expertise of IBM Business Consulting Services to hosting, infrastructure, technology design and training services. IBM services business delivers integrated, flexible and resilient processes across companies and through business partners, enabling clients to save money and transform their businesses to be more competitive. For more information, visit

See also:- IBM - editor mentions on, IBM article comparing SAS SSDs with PCIe SSDs, IBM's flash SSD page

In May 2015 - IBM announced it had been the number #1 all-flash storage array vendor in 2014, having shipped more petabytes and units for Solid-State Arrays than any other competitor - citing an industry market report from Gartner.

IBM said that in 2014 it had sold more than 2,100 FlashSystems, totaling 62 petabytes of capacity.

"With over a third of the world's 2014 all-flash array capacity on IBM FlashSystem, this solution is proving itself as the all-flash enterprise storage solution of choice across Tier 1 enterprise and cloud deployments around the world," said Michael Kuhn, VP and Business Line Executive, IBM Enterprise Storage.

Editor's comments:- many vendors claimed they were #1 in flash arrays at about the same time. And this inspired a blog - Who's #1 in Flash Arrays? - by Jim Handy - founder Objective Analysis - which discussed a "puzzling set of claims" by various competing rackmount SSD companies - who all claim to be #1 in the flash array market.

Who's who in SSD? - IBM

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - April 28, 2014

IBM was ranked #2 in the Q1 2014 edition of the Top SSD Companies published here on - having moved up 9 places from the previous quarter. (This IBM's highest rank to date - in the 7 years of publishing this series.)

That was a strong affirmation that the SSD market is interested in what it sees IBM doing in the enterprise.

That interest was weighted more towards IBM's rackmount storage systems than in its server side SSD solutions at the time of measuring this - although of course - that could change.

See also:- - It's IBM Jim - but not as we know it

Editor's comments:- re IBM and SSDs - September 2012

It took many years for IBM's SSD strategy to materialize into a recognizable shape.

Like other server companies - initially it was not in IBM's interests to educate customers about SSDs because they feared it would reduce server sales. But as I predicted in my 2003 SSD market adoption article - as soon as user knowledge about SSDs reached a critical mass and other server makers started to adopt them - server makers like IBM potentially realized they would lose server sales if they didn't support them.

Before their born-again enthusiasm for SSDs - IBM (in 2006) had publicly ridiculed products from SSD makers such as Texas Memory Systems - and / or claimed that other SSD products in the market weren't good enough to use yet. (A similar ploy to another SSD latecomer Seagate.)

Like many other server companies IBM initially went for the "safe" option of remarketing, reselling or rebadging proven SSD products from companies like Fusion-io, STEC, SanDisk and others.

IBM's recently announced agreement to acquire Texas Memory Systems (August 2012) has within it the potential to rapidly scale into a multi-billion dollar revenue SSD business unit.
selected IBM SSD milestones from SSD Market History.

July 2007 - SanDisk announced that its SATA 5000 2.5-inch SSD will be offered as an option in IBM's new BladeCenter HS21 XM.

April 2008 - IBM Previews Racetrack Solid State Storage

August 2008 - Fusion-io's SSDs were the secret ingredient in an IBM "million IOPS" story.

September 2008 - IBM announced a technology collaboration with Fusion-io

In February 2009 - IBM published a well written article - SSDs for Enterprise Storage (pdf) which introduces the need for SSD acceleration and explains IBM's strategy in this market.

In May 2009 - STEC confirmed that its SSDs are oemed in several popular IBM servers and storage systems.

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 August 2012 - IBM announced it will acquire Texas Memory Systems

In January 2014 - IBM disclosed it had shipped over 1,500 fast rackmount SSDs in its FlashSystem 800 range - based on the RamSan product line acquired from Texas Memory Systems. IBM also launched a new range of servers which were the first in the market to include - as standard - memory channel SSDs (low latency DDR3 DIMM flash SSDs) supplied by SanDisk and based on the design created by SMART and Diablo.
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IBM launches first memory channel SSD servers
Editor:- January 16, 2014 - IBM today disclosed preliminary test results comparing the latency of memory channel SSDs to PCIe SSDs - in the launch press release of its new X6 architecture for X86 servers.

IBM said - "Our evaluators are seeing 5-10 microseconds write latency for eXFlash DIMMs in preliminary testing vs. 15-19 microseconds latency for PCIe-based flash storage from Fusion-io, Micron, and Virident, and 65 microseconds latency for Intel S3500 and S3700 SSDs."

IBM also announced enhancements and sales figures for the rackmount SSD product line it acquired from Texas Memory Systems a year ago. See It's IBM SSD Jim - but not as we know it for more about this.

more SSD articles you may be interested in - here on

Strategic Transitions in SSD
controllers for big SSD architecture
where are we now with SSD software?
an introduction to enterprise SSD silos
how fast can your SSD run backwards?
the Survivor's Guide to Enterprise SSDs
Auto-tuning SSD Accelerated Pools of storage
High availability fault tolerant SSD arrays market
usable flash SSD capacity - the iceberg syndrome
IBM aims to be multi-billion dollar flash systems supplier
Editor:- April 12, 2013 - 3 years ago I wrote a blog about the confusing nature of the "RamSan" brand of SSDs from Texas Memory Systems given that all the recent models in the family were in fact flash memory rather than RAM based - and furthermore some of the models didn't connect via an FC SAN but used PCIe instead.

So it wasn't a surprise to see in yesterday's announcement by IBM (who acquired TMS last year) that the RamSan designation has been dropped in favor of the more accurate sounding "FlashSystem" in those models which migrated intact to IBM's enterprise flash product line.

So - for example in the category of high availability rackmount SSDs - the old RamSan-720 (SLC) and RamSan-820 (MLC) have become the new IBM FlashSystem 720 and 820.

If you're not already familiar with these fast HA SSDs - the thinking behind their design came out in an interview I has with Holly Frost, CEO of TMS when they were launched in December 2011.

Unless I missed them - then it doesn't look to me as though TMS's PCIe SSD models have been so fortunate. I couldn't see them in IBM's range of PCIe SSDs (High IOPS Modular Adapters) which are based on products and technologies from Fusion-io and LSI.

That no-show may be due to the fact that - unlike TMS's rackmount systems which were software agnostic - a lot more work is required to efficiently integrate server based SSDs into a wide range of server products. But I anticipate that TMS's big architecture SSD controller technology will resurface in future IBM SSD cards.

Much more significant was the news that IBM is investing $1 billion in research and development to design, create and integrate new flash solutions into its portfolio of servers, storage systems and middleware. IBM also announced plans to open 12 centers of flash competency around the globe. That demonstrates confidence in the future scale of the SSD market and its perspective related to computer history.

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This set of articles about the value of low latency has resonances for all the technology taxons in the SSD market.
SSD Bookmarks - suggested by IBM
Whatever you may think about mergers and acquisitions and suchlike behavior that's got very little to do with the root causes.
90% of the enterprise SSD companies which you know have no good reasons to survive
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Unlike the classic bathtub curve failure model which applies to hard drives - SSDs can be characterized as having early an warning phase which precedes the onset of predicted endurance based wearout.
storage reliability - research study findings - June 2015
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You don't need to worry about the endurance of our FlashSystems - says IBM
Editor:- October 7, 2014 - Worried about endurance?

"None of the thousands of FlashSystem products (fast rackmount SSDs) which IBM has shipped has ever worn out yet! - says Erik Eyberg, Flash Strategy & Business Development at IBM - in his new blog - Flash storage reliability: Aligning technology and marketing. "And our metrics suggest that will remain true in almost all cases for many, many years (certainly well beyond any normal and expected data center life cycle)"

Erik goes on to explain that's the reason IBM can now officially cover flash storage media wear-out as part of its standard IBM FlashSystem warranty and maintenance policies - without changing the prices for these services.

And his blog has a link to a white paper about the reliability architecture underlying this product (although it's behind a sign-up wall - which seems counter productive to me.)

Editor's comments:- Don't expect all other flash array vendors to follow suit (with no cost endurance guarantees) - because this product range from IBM is based on design rules and memory reliability architectures experience in FC SAN compatible enterprise SSD racks which have evolved since the 1st generation RamSan from TMS (in 2000). And for more than a decade before that using other popular enterprise storage interfaces.

Holly Frost - who founded Texas Memory Systems - and who was the CEO when TMS was acquired - told me a revealing story about TMS's policies concerning the reliability of their SSD systems and customer care procedures.

This conversation took place in December 2011 - when the company was launching its first high availability SSD - which became the basis of IBM's FlashSystem.

It still makes interesting reading today. You can see it in this article - in the right hand column - scroll down to the box titled - "no single point of failure - except..."

See also:- high availability enterprise SSDs
IBM is #1 in rackmount SSD revenue
Editor:- June 16, 2014 - IBM announced today that a recently published market report by IDC identified IBM as the #1 company (ranked by revenue in 2013) for rackmount SSDs with 25% market share.

Editor's comments:- this would only be a surprise if you had not read my January article - Who's who in SSD? It's IBM Jim - but not as we know it.
"Fusion-io's rackmount storage virtualization software will open up new markets for SanDisk's SATA SSD products."
What do you get when you add Fusion-io's software and systems IP to SanDisk? (June 16, 2014)
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"IBM has shipped over 1,500 of these flashsystems. In effect this was limited by the fact that for 3 quarters IBM shipped everything it made."
It's IBM SSD Jim - but not as we know it
IBM Redbook places memory channel SSDs in server context
Editor:- March 6, 2014 - IBM recently published a new free 28 page ebook (aka Redbook) - Benefits of IBM eXFlash Memory-Channel Storage in Enterprise Solutions (abstract) / (pdf) - which describes how memory channel SSDs fit into the concept of servers relative to the other types of SSDs already available.

Editor's comments:- I've been writing about this technology since the time it was being developed and have been well briefed by the original developers - so this paper didn't have any great surprises to me - but I think this document presents a balanced introduction to this technology and a contextualized analysis of how it compares to the other well established SSD acceleration options which are available for use inside servers.

comparison table - click to see article

The key takeway - in my view is table 2 - in which you can see a hierarchy of write latencies which are approximately 5x longer in each case as you progress up the flash SSD steps from memory channel SSDs then PCIe SSDs and finally SAS SSDs.

While bearing in mind that SSD data write latency is not the same as apps performance latency (because the integration of R/W data flow patterns with the software plays a significant part too) and also remembering that some products in the market will blur the ratio of the latency boundaries for these 3 different SSD types - you can, nevertheless see why memory channel has a distinct slot within the onboard SSD acceleration options which you need to think about in servers.