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storage news - June 2009, week 4

Megabyte's selection of storage news
Megabyte loved reading news stories
about the storage market
... top 50 SSD articles
After SSDs... What Next?
flash SSD Jargon Explained
the Top 20 SSD Companies
3 Easy Ways to Enter the SSD Market
7 tips to survive and thrive in enterprise SSD
How Bad is the Fallout from Choosing the Wrong SSD Supplier?
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SSD Guide Maintains Momentum

Editor:- June 30, 2009 - Despite the fact that June's not yet over - pageviews of the SSD buyers guide this month are already 58% higher than a year ago.

Listings of the most popular subjects and articles this month can be seen, as usual, on the storage market research page.

My new article on the SSD Notebook market is only 2 weeks old - but already in the top 20 articles viewed this month.

Looking ahead to July - will publish a new directory for MRAM. This is a market which has been in the so-called "emerging" state for more than a decade. But due to the low capacity of commercially available products, its use has been restricted to embedded markets in which no other technology can do the job - such as car crash recorders in which the write speed of flash is too slow, and high mechanical forces have precluded the use of battery backed RAM.

The big bucks lure of the flash SSD market has gotten the attention of MRAM developers. They're waking up to the industry changing possibilities that could occur if they can deliver higher capacity products. Over the next few years - this is one of several non volatile memory technologies we'll be talking about more.

The 9th quarterly edition of the the Top 10 SSD OEMs will be published after the holiday on July 7. That's got a big surprise in it - which you'll see when it's published. It will reveal a lot about the changing currents in the market - and the upwards (and downwards) shifts in SSD search affinity.

Storage Visions Calls for Sponsors
Editor:- June 24, 2009 - the 9th annual Storage Visions Conference is now open for presentations, sponsors and exhibitors.

It will be held at the Riviera Hotel Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 5 & 6, 2010.
Storage technologies that will be discussed include:- next generation hard disk drive, flash memory and optical recording, storage for content delivery networks and new storage-related standards that will change the world.
.................................................................................. Storage Visions Conference
According to conference organizer Tom Coughlin - "The next decade will give us new tools to capture and organize our lives, more content created by more people and more ways to distribute, monetize and make that content useful. From cloud storage to life-logs, from external direct attached and networked storage to the increasingly high resolution content that we will surround ourselves with wherever we go-we live in an age when the personal and collective memory of humans will reach new levels." ...

Increasing the Usefulness of Cheap SSDs with Virtual SAN Software

Editor:- June 24, 2009 - Seanodes disclosed results of tests using entry level SSDs with its Exanodes virtual SAN software.

In an ESX environment of 8 servers with 1 SSD drive per server, IOmeter benchmark results showed 36,000 IOPS (random read 4K) for a system with an overall cost under $20K (including the cost of SSDs and Exanodes VM Edition).

"'Traditional arrays have been designed to work efficiently with spinning disks and can't give the promise of SSDs in terms of performance and scalability for example," said Frank Gana, Business Development Director at Seanodes. "This limits the usage and markets and as a consequence most people use them as Direct Attached Storage with all the usual known problems that come with DAS. Thanks to Exanodes and its innovative design we can aggregate and use SSDs efficiently, opening new markets and applications to this technology".

Editor's comments:- Seanodes says it's trying to fix the problem of aggregating and sharing multiple low capacity, low cost SSDs between servers without requiring special tuning skills. But I have to say the quoted IOPS don't sound impressive to me compared to the fastest SSDs. So why wouldn't you use less servers and a better SSD instead?

With so many other competing solutions in the rackmount SSD and PCIe SSD market - I suspect that Seanode's solution may only provide an economic price point for a tiny fragment of possible applications - or none at all. There isn't enough data in the press release to be sure.

Adaptec Ships Flash Cache Backup for RAID Controllers

Editor:- June 24, 2009 - Adaptec today announced the availability of flash backup options for its SATA/SAS RAID controllers.

Adaptec's Zero-Maintenance Cache Protection protects data stored in controller cache for up to 10 years with no installation, monitoring, maintenance, disposal or replacement costs unlike lithium batteries.

Editor's comments:- the industry's 1st flash cache backup module for RAID controllers was announced in February 2009 by Viking Modular Solutions.

Phase Change Memory Designers Promised 2nd Source

Editor:- June 23, 2009 - Numonyx announced a technology agreement with Samsung Electronics to develop common specifications for Phase Change Memory (PCM) products.

Both companies expecting to have compliant devices ("pin for pin" comatible) available next year.

Editor's comments:- some large oems prefer to have alternate sources before designing in new chips. It was IBM's insistence than Intel allow an official 2nd source for its x86 processors - as part of the original Wintel PC design - which sowed the seeds for decades of legal acrimony with AMD. (Intel and AMD didn't like each other much before that anyway.)

Caringo Offers Free 4TB Cloud Storage Evaluation

Editor:- June 23, 2009 - Caringo today announced it's offering a free way to evaluate the benefits of its cloud storage - with the release of a Windows compatible CloudFolder linked to 4TB storage.

The company says users can drag and drop individual files or whole directories to CloudFolder for remote storage and can also make it a shared folder. Retrieving files is as easy as double clicking on a file or folder.

Mark Goros, CEO at Caringo says "We believe CloudFolder will inspire users to test and deploy private cloud storage within an organization or throughout a network of managed service customers."

Samsung Samples Netbook SSD

Editor:- June 23, 2009 - Samsung is sampling a SATA mini-card SSD for use in the expanding netbook marketplace with these key parameters:-
  • footprint:- 30mm by 51mm by 3.75mm
  • weight:- 8.5g
  • capacity options:- 16GB, 32GB and 64GB
  • R/W speeds:- 200MB/s and 100MB/s respectively
  • power:- 0.3W
"The market is beginning to embrace a smaller SSD for the nascent netbook sector," said Jim Elliott, vp, memory marketing, Samsung Semiconductor.

Cleveland Indians Fix Baseball Backup Headaches

Editor:- June 23, 2009 - CommVault Systems today published a case study which describes how the Cleveland Indians migrated to their backup software due to problems with Symantec.

The Cleveland Indians were among one of the first teams in Major League Baseball to develop a state-of-the-art video system to capture nearly 2,600 games played by all teams throughout the season for use in training and advanced scouting. According to the team it now takes less than 5 minutes to restore a video clip that once took more than an hour to locate and retrieve. And admin overhead has been cut from 45 minutes a day to less than 30 minutes a week.

Crossing the T's in STEC's SWOT

Editor:- June 23, 2009 - an article published yesterday in poses the question - Can SSD Maker STEC Be Stopped?

As far as it goes - it makes some good points. But if you're going to publish a SWOT analysis for STEC (or indeed any other SSD company) you need a far deeper understanding of the currents swirling around in the SSD market.

Because STEC's future success seems to be tied heavily to oems who use its products in the server acceleration market, the main factors which threaten that success are - in my view - the following:-
  • PCI express SSD market.

    While it's not intuitively obvious that PCIe SSDs compete head to head with 2.5" SSDs - the reality is they do. The growing search volume for PCIe SSDs - which has been tracking in the past year indicates that PCIe SSDs will be the main factor which limits the size and acceptance of DAS connected small form factor SSDs in the server box.
  • Outside the server box - in the rackmount SSD space - the market has moved beyond the traditional RAM versus Flash SSDs debate.

    The new debate here is how the market will split between the 2 main options:-
    • proprietary flash SSDs (such as those made by Texas Memory Systems, and Violin Memory).
    • arrays of Commercial Off The Shelf flash SSDs - such as those marketed by EMC and Sun Microsystems (who both oem STEC's SSDs). But another scope for fragmentation within the COTS space itself is the appearance of rackmount SSD arrays populated by COTS PCIe SSDs such as Dolphin and NextIO.

    As I have discussed in previous articles - I expect all these various architectural forms to grow and prosper - rather than for any clear winners to emerge in the near future. That's because users have widely different profiles with respect to performance needs and risk tolerance - which no single technology or vendor fits most economically.
  • Inside the 2.5" SSD market itself - there are many emerging point products which can threaten STEC from a performance point of view.

    Instead I think the biggest 2.5" SSD threat comes from STEC's customers designing their own SSDs (if they perceive that the small form factor SSD is indeed the way they want to go). With more than 20 chip companies offering the bits and pieces needed to design SSDs - and with the option of mixing and matching acquisitions with internal and external technology it's getting easier. The advantage to big server oems doing this - is that they can tailor products which meet their exact needs - and add unique features which can't be easily copied by their systems competitors. That's a much bigger threat to STEC than its customers than them buying SSDs from companies using SandForce's controller (which was mentioned in the ESF article).
To keep this analysis short - I haven't gone into internal business factors such as cash flow, logistics and supply chains. Any of these coming under stress could impact STEC's ability to service increasing demands from its customers (even without the external competitive threats listed above.) As you can see - the picture and outlook for STEC (or any other SSD company) is far from clear and certain. The market will decide - once it has absorbed and processed the confusing range of SSD choices on offer.

One useful way to see which SSD companies are getting more interest or less interest from customers in the market is to analyze changes in the quarterly top 10 SSD companies published by The next edition will be published July 7.

earlier storage news

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top news stories in recent months

June 2009

week 1 - Fusion-io promises $895 520MB/s SSD
week 2 - PhotoFast Launches Fastest ExpressCard SSD
week 3 - Crocus Ports MRAM to Tower Fab

May 2009

week 1 - DDRdrive's new PCIe RAM SSD card
week 2 - Toshiba Ships 512GB Notebook SSD
week 3 - Unity Semiconductor Unveils Flash's Successor
week 4 - Rambus Unveils Faster RAM Technologies
Top 20 Storage Articles - June 2009
  1. the Solid State Disks Buyers Guide
  2. the SSD Bookmarks
  3. War of the Disks: Hard Disk Drives vs. Flash SSDs
  4. the Fastest SSDs
  5. SSD Myths and Legends - "write endurance"
  6. the Top 10 SSD OEMs
  7. A Storage Architecture Guide
  8. NAS, DAS or SAN? - Choosing the Technology
  9. Flash Memory vs. Hard Disks - Which Will Win?
  10. the Benefits of SAS for External Subsystems
  11. RAM SSDs versus Flash SSDs - which is Best?
  12. Are MLC SSDs Ever Safe in Enterprise Apps?
  13. Can you trust flash SSD specs & SSD benchmarks?
  14. 2009 - Year of SSD Market Confusion
  15. After SSDs... What Next?
  16. What's a Solid State Disk?
  17. Z's Laws - Predicting Flash SSD Performance
  18. LVD, SE, HVD, SCSI compatibility - or lack of it
  19. the 10 biggest storage companies in 2012?
  20. Overview of the Notebook SSD Market

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