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SSD news - September 15-25, 2012

SSD history
SSD acquisitions
Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise
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How will IBM's acquisition of TMS impact Fusion-io?

Editor:- September 25, 2012 - some of you may be wondering - how will IBM's acquisition of Texas Memory Systems impact the pre-existing PCIe SSD business which IBM already does with Fusion-io?

Here are my thoughts. (I've included reference links with more backgrounder details as a footnote.)

In general the 2 different types of PCIe SSD - TMS vs FIO - aren't the same and don't behave in the same way.

In some situations there are strong arguments for users to prefer one product over another - and vice versa. Furthermore - the present SSD card incumbent in the IBM distribution store (Fusion-io) has some very sticky elements with respect to the performance benefits delivered by its software APIs - which can't be replicated by a substitute type of hardware product - no matter how fast its raw hardware.

My gut feel, therefore is that as the enterprise SSD market is big enough to support both these 2 types of PCIe SSDs - it would be illogical from a business perspective for IBM to withdraw or downgrade the status of the Fusion-io product -so long as Fusion-io remains an independent company.

In my view both product lines serve substantially different market roles well - and the degree of overlap and cannibalization is small.

That's not to say that the TMS product line will be deployed in equal numbers.

Far from it - I would expect the TMS architecture to be the biggest part of IBM's fast SSD business within a year of the acquisition - but that would be spread across a range of product deployments which includes rackmount SSDs (from the current TMS product line), and Ram-San PCIe SSDs and maybe removable 2.5" PCIe SSDs (as a future roll-out of TMS technology).

Until IBM can develop or acquire software products for the TMS SSD cards - which are on a par with what FIO has to offer - then terminating the ioDrive options in its catalog would be equivalent to sending its server customers to competing server makers.

The effect either way would be neutral for Fusion-io's business.

Here are some of the related article links which I promised earlier. ...Later:- What happened to the RamSan-70 and related TMS IP in PCIe SSDs?

IBM EOLed this product line.

As we learned later - they had other plans for server based SSD acceleration as they were a collaborator in the needs requirements for memory channel SSDs.


RunCore launches fast PCIe SSD

Editor:- September 24, 2012 - RunCore today launched its fastest yet PCIe SSD - the Kylin III PCIe - which has upto 1.4TB (usable) MLC capacity (full height, half length) R/W bandwith of 3GB/s and 2GB/s respectively - and R/W IOPS upto 700K / 500K (with 4KB blocks) and 3 / 1.4 million IOPS (512B). Read latency is 65µS (512B). Power consumption is under 15W (idle) and upto 50W (active).

Editor's comments:- this new SSD from RunCore is in a different performance class to earlier generations from the company which were frankly nowhere near the best of breed in speed. Although PCIe SSDs is now a very crowded market - it gives buyers another viable (Top 20 SSD companies list) supplier to choose from.


former BlueArc CEO, leaves HDS to steer Virident

Editor:- September 20, 2012 - Confidence about the prospects for flash in the enterprise, and a firm conviction that Virident is a key player which will make a difference to the enterprise SSD market - set the tone of the conversation I had on Monday with the company's new CEO Mike Gustafson who was a few days into his new job and briefing me on Virident's announcement yesterday about his new appointment and the company's $26 million in Series D Funding

The first thing I latched onto was the money. $26 million doesn't seem like a lot - I said I'm sure they could have got more if they wanted.

Mike said that's all they needed at this time - and he laughed when I told him what my mother had said to me when I started a VC backed company back in the 80s - It's easy borrowing money. It's harder paying it back.

I asked Mike what the $26 million was for?

He said they will be double the sales and marketing team in the next 12-18 months. Mike said Virident's new business leads pipeline currently looks more like a case of indigestion rather than starvation.

But Virident isn't going to rest on the development side. There's still a lot of work to do in software and some of the funds will be used for that.

Why did he leave HDS? I asked.

He said it was the opportunity to be the CEO of a company which is already a leader in the enterprise SSD market and which can make a significant difference to this disruptive industry.

Here are some of the messages which came through about Virident's perspective of where they are and their customer's thinking.

The light has come on in the marketplace that flash is a disruptive technology and a game changer.

Despite how long the SSD market has been around Virident cautiously sees this stage of the SSD market as still being in the early phase of what it will achieve.

Shridar Subramanian Virident's VP product marketing used a cricket metaphor to reinforce this - "Enterprise flash is still in the first innings."

A lot of vendors talk about the "enterprise market" but Mike said he had been lucky to be in previous organizations which had over 8,000 datacenter customers. One message coming from Virident's customers is they're saying they realize now that when they see what flash can do that they aren't being aggressive enough in their own flash adoption.

Another message coming back is feedback about endurance. Some of Virident's customers are extrapolating they will get 7 years of useful life. That means "it's safe to get in the water" with true enterprise flash systems regardless of the negative reputation of raw flash.

I said that Virident doesn't say as much as I think it could about what it's doing. Mike and Shridar agreed and said that will continue. Virident will only make bold claims of things they can do and deliver.

Now to be fair to readers - I had such an interesting conversation about the SSD market, the prospects for growth and the importance of business and technology efficiencies - that I stopped taking notes about half way through so I could keep up with the gist of what was being said. I can't read my writing anyway. So my narrative above misses out many of the things we discussed. But I think those are the important points.

PS - I suppose - that given the 2 earlier SSD CEO changes this week in OCZ and STEC - I should mention here that Virident's former CEO and co-founder Kumar Ganapathy is remaining with the company to work on business strategy and new product development.


Renice launches native USB 3 SSD with attached SCSI protocol support

Editor:- September 20, 2012 - Renice Technology launched a native USB 3 SSD (no bridge chips) using its own controller IP which supports the UAS (USB Attached SCSI) protocol, has SMART and power interruption data integrity protection and R/W speeds of 400MB/s and 320MB/s respectively.


which way now for OCZ?

Editor:- September 19, 2012 - For reasons which you can easily guess - in recent months OCZ has replaced STEC and Fusion-io as the company which most SSD investors - who are contacting me for the first time - ask most questions about. You can see what I've been thinking and saying on this theme in OCZ's profile page


OCZ's founder and CEO resigns

Editor:- September 17, 2012 - OCZ today announced the resignation of the company's founder and CEO Ryan Petersen.

Alex Mei, Executive VP and CMO has been named as Interim CEO, effective immediately. .


STEC's CEO stands down

Editor:- September 17, 2012 - STEC today announced that Manouch Moshayedi, is stepping down from his positions as Chairman and CEO pending resolution of a civil complaint filed against him by the SEC, although he will remain with the company, assuming the title of founder and continuing to serve as a member of the board for the time being.

STEC's board today elected his brother Mark Moshayedi, currently the President, COO and CTO of the company to be interim CEO with effect from September 18, 2012.
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(SSD ad circa 2012)



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"In an ideal world - symmetry considerations would be on page one of the - how to design an SSD cookbook."
how fast can your SSD run backwards?

(Symmetrical performance was always one of the strategic goals in Virident's architecture - which is why I placed this article link here.)



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The SSD market has managed to accrue an imaginative body of literature which includes truths, half truths, mysticism, misunderstandings. myths, legends - and in some cases - downright balderdash - when it comes to the subject of SSD costs, pricing and justifications.
Exiting the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing



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