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iSCSI SSDs market

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - StorageSearch.com

see also:- iSCSI SSDs - elsewhere on StorageSearch.com
iSCSI SSD news
the Top SSD Companies in Q2 2014

Editor:- July 28, 2014 - StorageSearch.com today published the new 29th quarterly edition of the Top SSD Companies - based on metrics in Q2 2014.

This is the list which really matters for those running SSD companies and their stakeholders - because of its 7 year proven track record of picking up advance business and technology trends and the companies to follow. ...read the article


CacheIO decouples iSCSI storage capacity from performance

Editor:- June 10, 2014 - CacheIO today announced results of a benchmark which is described by their collaborator Orange Silicon Valley (a telco) as - "One of the top tpm benchmark results accelerating low cost iSCSI SATA storage."

CacheIO says that the 2 million tpm benchmark on CacheIO accelerated commodity servers and storage shows that users can deploy its flash cache to accelerate their database performance without replacing or disrupting their existing servers and storage.

Editor's comments:- The only reason I mention this otherwise me-too sounding benchmark is because although I've known about CacheIO and what they've been doing with various organizations in the broadcast and telco markets for over a year - I didn't list them on StorageSearch.com before.

That was partly because they didn't want me to name the customers they were working with at that time - but also because with SSD caching companies becoming almost as numerous as tv channels on a satellite dish - I wanted to wait and see if they would be worth a repeat viewing. (And now I think they they are.)

PS - I asked Bang Chang, CEO of CacheIO if he had a white paper which talked more about the company's cache architecture and philosophy. He sent me this - CacheIO High Availability Deployment (pdf) - from which I've extracted these quotes...
  • re network cache appliances - "At CacheIO we believe that network cache appliance is the best storage architecture to decouple performance from capacity and achieve the best of both worlds.

    Once deployed as a "bump in the wire" performance accelerator, our network cache appliance can also deliver additional value added services... Compared to server-side Flash cache, our network cache appliance is a shared resource that is more scalable, more reliable, supports clustered applications, and most importantly allows customers, especially cloud service providers, to monetize performance by dynamically allocating resources based on changing SLAs."
  • re operational transparency - "Implementing CacheIO network appliance requires no change to existing applications, servers, or storage. CacheIO can be slotted in, turned on to accelerate applications, and turned off if necessary, often without needing to stop the applications."
I found it interesting to see that in addition to conventional connections (SAN and InfiniBand) their HA paper also mentions emerging PCIe fabric.


Nimble says 200 customers have used its bundled stack

Editor:- May 19, 2014 - Nimble Storage today announced that over 200 enterprise customers have used its SmartStack (pre-validated reference architecture) which is centered around the company's hybrid storage arrays.

See also:- hybrid array news, rackmount SSDs


Permabit has shrunk the market by $300 million

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


6 iSCSI SSD companies to look out for

Editor:- June 10, 2013 - iSCSI used to be a yawn zone for SSD developments - but not any more.

6 companies which have recently been doing interesting things in the iSCSI SSD market and are worth knowing about are:-
  • Fusion-io - has moved into the hybrid arrays iSCSI market
  • Pure Storage - says it has a mission to undercut the price of hard drive arrays
  • Skyera - offers one of the lowest price points ($ per terabyte) in the industry (but not the lowest entry level floor price)
  • Stec - their first systems level product is an iSCSI rack. It's noteworthy in their development as an SSD company. But probably won't appeal to most users.
  • Whiptail - says you don't have to sacrifice enterprise reliability just because the branch office doesn't need a high capacity iSCSI SSD box.



Whiptail expands ambitions up and down the price spectrum

Editor:- June 7, 2013 - Whiptail recently announced imminent availability of its Infiniband based INFINITY high end controller architecture. A 30 node INFINITY cluster - consisting 6 x 72TB INVICTAs - can provide a 360TB, 4 million IOPS, 40GB/s system.

The company also announced details of a new entry level ($20K floor price) fast-enough 1U iSCSI SSD - which is aimed at the branch office environment. The WT-1100 offers 100K IOPS with upto 4TB capacity and will be available via resellers and systems integrators.

Editor's comments:- I've written an article about this. See - Whiptail offers clues to Users playing the SSD box riddle game


Pure Storage tells CNBC's viewers about enterprise flash

Editor:- June 3, 2013 - "You're not the only company that plays in this market - correct?" - said Becky Quick, co-anchor of CNBC's squawkbox in a leading question to Scott Dietzen, CEO of Pure Storage (Monday morning).

"We weren't the first to package flash for storage" said Dietzen. "What we did figure out uniquely was how to get flash into a place where it was price competitive with (enterprise) disk." ...watch the video

Editor's comments:- "uniquely" must have another meaning I haven't learned yet.


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.


...Next on the SSD world domination agenda - create better value in the cost sensitive iSCSI market

Editor:- April 23, 2013 - The iSCSI market hasn't been a fertile business development ground for SSD sales - a factor which I ascribe to the mood prevailing at its birth.

At the start of 2001 - when the idea of iSCSI first attracted interest on the web - the storage market was still in a recession which would continue for another 2 years. Users could buy new or little used servers and storage recycled from the spending spree of failed dotcom companies for next to nothing. There was already a proven fast way of doing fast network storage - fibre-channel which had been around since 1994 (but it was complex to set up). Those various factors meant that iSCSI evolved - by necessity - into a cheap, simple to set up and maintain storage ecosystem for frugal applications which needed data.

Although there was nothing hard wired into the technology which prevented it from being scaled up - most of the early attempts by vendors to nudge iSCSI into the fast lane with dedicated hardware accelerators failed. There was no real customer appetite in the iSCSI base to encourage vendors to push for fast random IOPS or low latency. iSCSI was the frugal way of doing complicated network storage.

That's another reason why - prior to 2013 - none of the top 10 enterprise pure SSD array companies started in iSCSI. There wasn't enough market demand for the kind of low latency and fast IOPS which could open enough doors for SSDs in storage cabinets to make it worthwhile. Instead, most of the iSCSI arrays which have been in the market until recently were originally developed around technology optimized for FC SAN or were simply iSCSI HDD arrays with some SSDs thrown into some of the bays. When you saw "iSCSI" on the datasheet of a fast SSD you knew it had most likely been added to a model which had already been optimized for another market.

You could say that iSCSI has been a safe haven for enterprise hard drives - because whenever there has been a tension in the feature set between the cost of incremental capacity versus the value of incremental performance - it was cost - and getting the cost down as low as possible - which usually won.

I explained in my Petabyte SSD roadmap article a few years ago why one day - even the mantle of low cost per raw terabyte wouldn't be enough to protect delinquently slow and ineffcient hard drives from being evicted from enterprise network storage racks. And this culture shock will be knocking at the door of the iSCSI market from various different vendor directions in the coming year - with increasing urgency.

I was pondering these factors last week when I was waiting to dial Len Rosenthal, Senior VP Marketing Astute Networks who wanted to talk about the launch of new models in their ViSX family of fast-enough iSCSI rackmount SSDs - which have upto 45TB of raw SSD storage in a 2U rack which with dedupe enabled can deliver $2,000 / TB and even with dedupe switched off - comes in at about $5,000 / TB while being able to offer more than double the IOPS of much higher priced competing SSD systems.

The first thing I asked about was the company's iSCSI accelerator chip - which is one of the two technology factors which give them an edge in iSCSI. I had heard about it many years ago - but the company doesn't say much about it now. Len told me they were now on the 3rd generation of their iSCSI accelerator chip. The 1st generation had been designed for a US Navy project to enable fast access to embedded storage located around a ship while using COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) servers and storage.

In Astute's current ViSX systems I think you can view the iSCSI accelerator as being the technology which buys the time (in latency cost) which can then be spent on dependable real-time dedupe.

Len told me that although Astute have always known this gives them a theoretical performance advantage compared to competitors who use similar types of flash - it's only when he engaged Demartek to do some comparative testing recently and gave them a free hand to explore the differences - that they realized just how good their systems were. (I've seen summaries of these benchmarks - and they do confirm the advantages of the iSCSI silicon.)

Astute's new systems do now seem to offer a hard to beat SSD package for users in the mainstream iSCSI market. Len described this as "making flash affordable for the mid market."

Astute's earlier generations of iSCSI flash were too expensive for most users. But the current generation - not only offers attractive pricing - but comes with proven technologies - and cost effective replication - by what the company calls "high availability groups" (pdf)- which enables users to choose which systems provide failover clustering - and whether that's local or remote. In addition to providing data continuity when things fail - this scheme can also provide load balancing and imporved performance in the normal (unfailed) state.

One of the things which came across clearly from talking to Len is that Astute Networks is totally focused on the iSCSI SSD market. They know the market, they know the apps - and they aim to be one of the leading suppliers in this niche. For them iSCSI isn't something on the tick list - it's the whole list.


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).. "We're excited to join the Fusion-io team... to work together on open, software defined solutions to today's most challenging data demands."


GreenBytes gets $12 million in Series B funding

Editor:- May 29, 2012 - GreenBytes today announced it has raised an additional $12 million in Series B funding from Generation Investment Management LLP with participation from Battery Ventures and GreenBytes management which the company will use to expand sales and marketing.

Editor's comments:- GreenBytes' systems are iSCSI compatble SSD ASAPs which include both SSD and HDD drives. The company's GO OS (Globally Optimized Operating System) provides performance at a level which I would characterize at the slow end of fast-enough enterprise SSD storage (around 70K IOPS) but with deduplication, compression and other optimizations enabled, while offering 60TB of virtual storage in a 3U rack.


Drobo's new SSD ASAP uses SAS SSDs from OCZ

Editor:- March 8, 2012 - OCZ announced that its Talos SSDs (3.5" SAS SSDs) will be used in Drobo's new B1200i range of iSCSI auto-tiering systems (SSD ASAPs).

This is Drobo's first product to leverage the benefits of SSDs.

"Just like larger organisations, SMEs should be able to afford and enjoy the benefits of SSD technology and performance," said Tom Buiocchi, CEO of Drobo. "For the best capacity and performance, our unique automated data-aware tiering allows customers to easily and affordably add SSDs to the same Drobo environment that already has high-capacity traditional disk drives."


NexGen enters iSCSI auto-tiering SSD ASAP market

Editor:- November 8, 2011 - NexGen emerged from stealth mode and announced general availability of its first product - the n5 - a 3U iSCSI auto-tiering and real-time compression appliance - which internally leverages 48GB RAM cache, 1.3TB PCIe SSD and 32TB raw SAS HDD capacity to deliver 120TB RAID protected usable fast virtual storage with adjustable performance QoS for every volume.


SolidFire gets more funding for iSCSI cloud SSDs

Editor:- October 25, 2011 - SolidFire announced that it has raised $25 million in its second funding round, bringing its total funding to $37 million.

SolidFire's founder and CEO, Dave Wright said - "The response to our Early Access Program... has been overwhelming. We have a very solid sales pipeline and we will be investing in our sales and marketing team to respond to customer interest and accelerate our growth."

Editor's comments:- The raw building block in SolidFire's product - the SF 3010 (pdf) - is a 1U system with 10 internal 2.5" SSDs (giving 3TB raw capacity) and with 72GB RAM cache.

See also:- iSCSI SSDs and cloud storage.


Demartek publishes free 86 page iSCSI guide

Editor:- May 31, 2011 - Demartek has published an iSCSI Deployment Guide (86 pages pdf) aimed at users in Windows environments.

The company says - "This guide is intended to be used as a reference and is divided into sections including iSCSI marketplace data, iSCSI technology areas, and specific vendor products in the area of network adapters and storage targets. There are screen shots and information from actual deployments of these products."


StoneFly accelerates iSCSI with Fusion-io

Editor:- March 30, 2011 -StoneFly announced that it will integrate Fusion-io's ioMemory accelerators into its iSCSI storage systems.

"By marrying our software with Fusion's cards, we provide customers with the possibility of creating a fully scalable, high availability, and high performance IP SAN storage system," says Mo Tahmasebi, StoneFly's President and CEO . "We are very excited to introduce this first of its kind breakthrough product line."


Alacritech enters SSD ASAP market

Editor:- January 11, 2011 - Alacritech launched the ANX 1500 ($70,000 base price) - a 2U fat flash SSD ASAP optimized for the NAS market - which the company claims can deliver 120,000 NFS OPS when configured with 48GB of DRAM and up to 4TB flash SSD.


Ampex ships rugged iSCSI SSD

Editor:- October 19, 2009 - Ampex announced first customer shipments of the TuffServ 480 SSD - a rugged iSCSI SSD for airborne applications to General Atomics.

The TuffServ 480 provides 2TB of RAID protected hot swappable flash storage in a conduction cooled MIL-STD-810F certified compact package measuring 5.25" H x 7.25" W x 10" D.

"Higher performance, smaller size, and lighter weight, and all at a lower cost," is the way that Business Development Manager John Hardy described Ampex' s new airborne solid-state server system. "The TuffServ 480 system is specifically designed to meet our customers ever growing data acquisition needs."
SSD market history - (35 years of technical product milestones)

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world's first iSCSI SSD (announcement)
Editor:- September 7, 2004 - BiTMICRO today announced that they will be introducing solid state disk-based iSCSI target appliances.

BiTMICRO is responding to the growing market demand for a consolidated, interoperable and manageable flash-based network storage solution that is scalable over long distances, provides easy connectivity to SANs, allows shared access for multiple users and handles existing user applications with ease. Under this initiative, BiTMICRO will introduce a family of iSCSI target appliances that fuses several dominant standards, IP and Ethernet for networking and SCSI for data storage. Integrating this solution into existing storage networks allows business enterprises to reap the benefits of SAN without getting bogged down by distance and cost limitations associated with Fibre Channel solutions.

Editor's comments:-
the above product never got to market as I found out a few years later.

Earlier - market analyst IDC had predicted that the iSCSI market would be worth $1 billion / year revenue in 2004 - but due to a variety of factors it would be another 3 years before that revenue milestone happened. And the SSD market was slower taking off than expected too.
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bootable integrated PCIe SSD based acceleration
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a Toshiba group company
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what do I need to know about any new rackmount SSD?
Bottlenecks in the pure SSD datacenter will be more serious
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this way to the Petabyte SSD
click to read the article -  reaching for the petabyte SSD - not as scary as you may think ... The new model of the datacenter - how we get from here to there - and the technical problems which will need to be solved - are just some of the ideas explored in this visionary article.
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the Top 20 SSD companies
Editor:- Which companies do you absolutely have to include in your thinking if you've got any new projects involving SSDs?

And which SSD companies are most likely to succeed?

With hundreds of manufacturers already in the SSD market - and hundreds more soon to enter - you have to know where you should prioritize your valuable time and attention.

For over 5 years StorageSearch.com has published the quarterly list of the Top 10 SSD companies - which has accurately predicted the ebbs and flows of existing vendors and has been sensitive enough to recognize the industry's new rising stars from the background noise of the SSD bubble's hype.

Unlike editor or analyst pick lists - this is based on the scientific method of tracking and analyzing the search volume of the most important people who will decide the future of the SSD market - the millions of people - who like you have been reading our SSD content.

Each edition of the list includes a list of the top companies and a review an analysis of key SSD market milestones in that quarter. By comparing successive listings you can also see - who is on the way up and who is on the way down.

The listings have been recently expanded to include the top 20 SSD companies.
these are the SSD companies you have to consider on any buyers shortlist - this quarterly series predicts future market winners by tracking search volume of millions of SSD buyers This gives you better visibility of companies are hot on the heels of the leaders in top market segments. ...read the article
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SSD Pricing - where does all the money go?
SSDs are among the most expensive computer hardware products you will ever buy and comprehending the factors which determine SSD costs is often a confusing and irritating process...
Clarifying SSD Pricing - where does all the money go? - click to read the article ...which is not made any easier when market prices for apparently identical capacity SSDs can vary more than 100x to 1!

Why is that? ...read the article to find out
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