by Zsolt Kerekes,
editor - StorageSearch.comsee also:-
SSDs - elsewhere on StorageSearch.com
|iSCSI SSD news|
|growing user confidence
will spur enterprise flash consolidation|
Editor:- April 21, 2015 -
blog on StorageSearch.com
I look at drivers, mechanisms and routes towards consolidation in the
enterprise SSD systems market along with some other outrageous and dangerous
ideas. The conclusion?
"90% of the enterprise SSD
companies which you know have no good reasons to survive."
publication - I discussed these ideas with various readers for about 3
months and since publication you won't be surprised when I tell you it has
been at the core of many conversations since. ...read
NetApp has stopped suing Nimble
Editor:- March 31,
2015 - Nimble Storage
it recently entered into a written settlement agreement with NetApp re alledged
misuse of trade secrets etc dating back to
The terms of the settlement are confidential and are not material to Nimble's
Editor's comments:- 2 weeks later I saw
this related article -
How doomed is
NetApp? by Robin Harris
who says, among other things, "The latest troubling sign from NetApp is the
failure of their widely touted FlashRay project to ship a competitive product.
The VP in charge, left NetApp for
Pure Storage last
SanDisk spins off NexGen
Editor:- January 8, 2015 -
clarified that "Hybrid systems incorporating hard-disk drives are not part
of SanDisk's strategic focus."
This strategy direction statement
by Sumit Sadana,
executive VP and chief strategy officer, SanDisk was part of an
today that SanDisk has completed the spin-out of Fusion-io's
ioControl (hybrid SSD systems) business as a separate company called NexGen Storage.
has agreed to be a supplier of
PCIe flash storage
technology to NexGen but will not maintain an ownership interest.
will be led by John
Spiers who was co-founder and CEO of the original NexGen company before
by Fusion-io in April
2013 (for $119 million).
Editor's comments:- In
retrospect Fusion-io's acquisition of NexGen was a mistake.
didn't have enough cash or people resources to invest in bootstrapping 2
entirely new systems businesses (one in the fast SSD rackmount market, and the
other (based on NexGen) in the
hybrid SSD appliance
market) at a time when both markets were already becoming much more
Can NexGen succeed as a standalone company?
Hundreds of other companies are also competing in the hybrid market
- so you can ask them. Most likely NexGen will get acquired again.
Western Digital acquires Skyera
15, 2014 -
and HGST today
the acquisition of Skyera.
comments:- This is a momentous acquisition for the enterprise SSD market.
I think the context in which to view this is as the embodiment of a new
wisdom in the industry - that to succeed in the enterprise SSD market today -
and to achieve the ultimate efficiencies at the manufacturing level - vendors
have to think like systems companies.
SolidFire gets another $82 million funding
October 7, 2014 - SolidFire
it has closed an $82 million Series D round of funding, bringing its total
funding to $150 million.
New investor Greenspring Associates led the
round along with a major sovereign wealth fund, with participation from current
investors NEA, Novak Biddle, Samsung Ventures and Valhalla Partners. SolidFire
will use the additional funds to extend its global reach.
building blocks of SolidFire's SSD systems are 1U
iSCSI rackmount SSDs
which include 10x 2.5"
SSDs. At that level it's the same as 100 or so other competing systems.
If you want fibre
channel access - you add a special 1U adapter rack to the native IP array.
So it's expensive - but keeps the unit costs of the most common building blocks
down - compared to including native unified storage in each rack. So in the case
of a big installation - it's a reasonable cost optimization tradeoff.
key difference is
software architecture and the fact they use a
architecture type of RAID
- which they call "no-RAID".
In SolidFire's no-RAID (which
is really big RAID) - the data is more widely dispersed across the drive
population than in classical (small architecture) RAID.
is much less disruption to data access and
performance when a drive
because SolidFire's software can manage upto about 100 racks as a raw storage
resource (1,000 SSD drives) - so the impact of a single drive down is small.
Users also have a high degree of flexibility as to how they micro manage
different virtualized segments of storage to meet their different QoS goals.
also:- VCs and SSDs
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
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
CacheIO decouples iSCSI storage capacity from performance
June 10, 2014 - CacheIO
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
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.
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.
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
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 -
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."
I found it
interesting to see that in addition to conventional connections (SAN and
InfiniBand) their HA
paper also mentions emerging PCIe fabric.
- 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."
Nimble says 200 customers have used its bundled stack
May 19, 2014 - Nimble
that over 200 enterprise customers have used its
(pre-validated reference architecture) which is centered around the company's
hybrid array news,
Permabit has shrunk the market by $300 million
September 30, 2013 - Permabit
and hard disk customers have shipped more than 1,000 arrays running its
RAID) software in the past 6 months.
"We estimate that our
partners have delivered an astonishing $300 million in data efficiency savings
to their customers" said Tom Cook, CEO of Permabit
who anticipates license shipments to double in the next 6 months.
efficiency, new RAID in
SSDs, SSD software
6 iSCSI SSD companies to look out for
10, 2013 - iSCSI used to be a yawn zone for SSD developments - but not any more.
6 companies which have recently been doing interesting things in the iSCSI
SSD market and are worth knowing about are:-
- Fusion-io - has
moved into the hybrid arrays iSCSI market
- Pure Storage
- says it has a mission to undercut the price of hard drive arrays
- Skyera - offers
one of the lowest price points ($ 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
June 7, 2013 - Whiptail
imminent availability of its
INFINITY high end controller architecture. A 30 node INFINITY cluster -
consisting 6 x 72TB INVICTAs - can provide a 360TB, 4 million IOPS,
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.
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
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
"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)
Editor's comments:- "uniquely"
must have another meaning I haven't learned yet.
Fusion-io enters the iSCSI array market
April 24, 2013 - Fusion-io
made 2 significant announcements today.
The 1st of these was
financial results for the quarter ended March 31 - revenue of $88 million
(down 27% from the preceding quarter and down 7% from the year
The 2nd of these was the real news -
FIO has acquired another company -
NexGen Storage (for $119
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
iSCSI hybrid storage for
SME and departmental needs in a 3U rack which delivers upto 150K IOPS and
16TB to 192TB raw capacity.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
I was pondering these factors last week when I was waiting to
Rosenthal, Senior VP Marketing Astute Networks who
wanted to talk about the
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
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
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.
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
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."
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
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)
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
March 18, 2013 - Fusion-io
today that it has acquired another
company - ID7 - which had been
collaborating on the development of FIO's
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.
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
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
May 29, 2012 - GreenBytes
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
Editor's comments:- GreenBytes' systems are
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
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
March 8, 2012 - OCZ
announced that its Talos
SAS SSDs) will be
used in Drobo's
range of iSCSI
auto-tiering systems (SSD
This is Drobo's first product to leverage the benefits
"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
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
November 8, 2011 - NexGen
emerged from stealth mode and
general availability of its first product - the
n5 - a 3U
real-time compression appliance - which internally leverages 48GB
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
October 25, 2011 - SolidFire
announced that it has
$25 million in its second funding round, bringing its total funding to $37
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."
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
also:- iSCSI SSDs
and cloud storage.
Demartek publishes free 86 page iSCSI guide
May 31, 2011 - Demartek
has published an
Deployment Guide (86 pages pdf) aimed at users in Windows environments.
- "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
March 30, 2011 -StoneFly
that it will integrate Fusion-io's ioMemory
accelerators into its iSCSI
"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
11, 2011 - Alacritech
1500 ($70,000 base price) - a 2U
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.
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
"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."
history - (35 years of technical product milestones)|
|"My background (prior
to virtualization) involved a lot of Linux and Open Source, so I started out
managing direct attached storage shared via an iSCSI target or via NFS, and
sometimes SMB. The company I was at was very spend-conscious, especially in
terms of software, so we eschewed the use of Microsoft products wherever
Data-centric Infrastructure Evangelist at Coho Data in his blog
Storage or 4 hour Root Canal Everyday? |
this way to the petabyte
are we now with SSD software?
new customer segments for rackmount SSDs
|Behind new pioneering
pricing models for enterprise SSD array in 2014 was the explicit recognition
that there is always a high degree of uncertainty involved in such purchases.
changed in SSD year 2014?|
first iSCSI SSD (announcement) |
|Editor:- September 7, 2004 - BiTMICRO today
that they will be introducing
solid state disk-based iSCSI
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.
- 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.
MLC flash in
enterprise SSD users want?
enterprise SSD arrays
thrive guide to enterprise SSDs
Auto-tuning SSD Accelerated
Pools of storage
RAM SSDs versus Flash
SSDs - which is Best?
Legacy versus New
Dynasty in Enterprise SSDs
7 SSD types will satisfy all
future enterprise needs
Understanding what shapes
flash SSD performance
Efficiency - making the
same SSD - with less chips
Rackmount SSDs - open
vs proprietary architectures
what do I need to
know about any new rackmount SSD?
Bottlenecks in the
pure SSD datacenter will be more serious
|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
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
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.
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
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.
||This gives you better
visibility of companies are hot on the heels of the leaders in top market
|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
|| ...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