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SSD market news - October 1-14, 2013

SNIA opens new SSD survey

Editor:- October 11, 2013 - 9 years ago funded and conducted the world's first marketwide SSD survey asking SSD users about their preferences and what they viewed as inhibitors to the adoption of SSDs?

Since then I haven't had to do any formal surveys because I've spoken to thousands of you by email and phone and my web stats (analyzing millions of my past SSD readers) have also provided useful advance pointers to changing preferences in interfaces, technologies and suppliers - which I have shared with you in articles on this site.

I returned to the theme of - what do enterprise SSD users want? - in a major article last year - pointing out some of the problems which the SSD industry still needs to address.

storage ORGs directory
storage ORGs
Standards organizations move at a slower pace - because they need everyone to agree who's sitting in which chair and who brings the coffee - before they can even start discussing anything new - but when they reach consensus the results can be worth the wait.

So it's good to see that SNIA is now running an online survey on SSD features (interfaces, apps etc) - in order to learn more about the market. The survy is open till the end of November - and the results will be announced at Storage Visions next January.

If you think the SSD industry doesn't understand what you're doing - you would mostly be right - because users are different (not all the same) and in the enterprise rules are made to be broken - as users learn from and adapt to new ways of doing old things and realize that new things are possible too. The SSD industry would like to understand you better so they can design more of the products which you'd feel comfortable buying.

There are many ways you can participate in this vendor education process. Buy more of the stuff you like and less of the stuff you don't. That's very effective. Or you can tell vendors what you think, email publications and blog about your views or participate in market research. Or just sit back and watch everyone else get it wrong. Anyway the survey link is here .

See also:- the SSD education problem, market research directory

Fusion-io accelerates shopping in China

Editor:- October 10, 2013 - The largest B2C online shopping site in China - which has 51 million registered users who make an average of 500,000 purchases daily - generating over 100 million pages / day - has improved its Microsoft SQL Server database query response times 9x by accelerating its infrastructure with ioMemory (PCIe SSDs) from Fusion-io - according to a press release yesterday.

According to the linked case study - the customer - also reduced its server count by 3 to 1, saved money on software licenses and other running costs and also improved operational reliability.

McObject shows in-memory database resilience in NVDIMM

Editor:- October 9, 2013 - what happens if you pull out the power plug during intensive in-memory database transactions? For those who don't want to rely on batteries - but who also need ultimate speed - this is more than just an academic question.

hybrid DIMMs
hybrid DIMMs
Recently on these pages I've been talking a lot about a new type of memory channel SSDs which are hoping to break into the application space owned by PCIe SSDs. But another solution in this area has always been DRAM with power fail features which save data to flash in the event of sudden power loss. (The only disadvantages being that the memory density and cost are constrained by the nature of DRAM.)

McObject (whose products include in-memory database software) yesterday published the results of benchmarks using AGIGA Tech's NVDIMM in which they did some unthinkable things which you would never wish to try out for yourself - like rebooting the server while it was running... The result? Everything was OK.

"The idea that there must be a tradeoff between performance and persistence/durability has become so ingrained in the database field that it is rarely questioned. This test shows that mission critical applications needn't accept latency as the price for recoverability. Developers working in a variety of application categories will view this as a breakthrough" said Steve Graves, CEO McObject.

Here's a quote from the whitepaper - Database Persistence, Without The Performance Penalty (pdf) - "In these tests eXtremeDB's inserts and updates with AGIGA's NVDIMM for main memory storage were 2x as fast as using the same IMDS with transaction logging, and approximately 5x faster for database updates (and this with the transaction log stored on RAM-disk, a solution that is (even) faster than storing the log on an SSD). The possibility of gaining so much speed while giving up nothing in terms of data durability or recoverability makes the IMDS with NVDIMM combination impossible to ignore in many application categories, including capital markets, telecom/networking, aerospace and industrial systems."

Editor's comments:- last year McObject published a paper showing the benefits of using PCIe SSDs for the transaction log too. They seem to have all angles covered for mission critical ultrafast databases that can be squeezed into memory.

the revolution is in the software architected for flash and built for the modern data center - says Kaminario

Editor:- October 9, 2013 - In a blog yesterday - You Say You Want a Revolution? - Kaminario says - "the revolution (about enterprise flash) is in the software architected for flash and built for the modern data center... We have competed against legacy storage and watched as customers went through the progression of adding flash in their current arrays. We've competed against the all-flash stovepipe builders with their one-workload wonders. Customers always seem to come to the same conclusion..." the article

Editor's comments:- the title of the blog comes from the first line in a Beatles track - because I guess that's the music generation which it's safe to assume that many customers in the datacenter will be able to recognize and relate to.

But let's not forget there's a lot of good newer songs out there too.

Among other things I've been listening to this month - while I've been unintentionally painting myself as well as the porch which I was originally aiming at (comes from picking things up from the wrong end without looking) I've been enjoying Deer Tick.

OK I haven't given any thought yet to how Deer Tick's lyrics could be worked into the title of an enterprise SSD blog - but I'm sure that someone will do it. When you do - send me the link.

wonder why all big SSD users will inevitably pedal back their buying?

Editor:- October 8, 2013 - Before you make that next presentation about what's happening in the business world of enterprise flash, or before you commit to any future datelines for hard drives being sold into the enterprise you'd be well advised to meet Ken and the enterprise SSD software event horizon - the (long anticipated) new home page blog on

Blancco announces recovery-proof SSD erase

Editor:- October 8, 2013 - Blancco today launched a new SSD erasing software product - which the company says has been validated as being data recovery resistant.

See also:- fast purge / secure erase SSDs

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by 2017 most flash will be 3D - says iSuppli

Editor:- October 4, 2013 - In a market forecast yesterday IHS iSuppli said - "by 2017 65% of all NAND flash memory chips shipped worldwide will be produced using 3-D manufacturing processes, up from less than 1% this year."

Editor's comments:- the transition towards a new way of making flash memory (by vertical stacking of deposition layers at the chip level) currently looks like a more viable way of increasing flash densities in the long term - compared to shrinking the geometry of cells - which is already straining the ingenuity of circuit designers to counteract and manage the impact of intrinsic defects in the materials which become more significant as the stored charge for each virtual data bit gets smaller.

Some aspects of this trend toward shrinking 2D (aka planar) geometry - at the SSD level - manifest as worsening raw metrics such as - endurance, remanence, reliability and data integrity.

Fusion-io still #1 SSD search volume - 19th quarter

Editor:- October 3, 2013 - the next edition of the Top SSD Companies - the 26th in this series - based on search metrics in the 3rd quarter of 2013 - will be published here on or before October 15.

I can reveal that the #1 company for this period - Fusion-io - hasn't changed from the previous 18 quarters - despite some spikes in September during which month it dropped by 2 places. (As reported lower down this page on September 24.)

Samsung's SAS SSD VMware certified

Editor:- October 2, 2013 - Samsung today announced that its SM1625 (pdf) - dual port SAS SSD - has been certified for use with VMware Virtual SAN.

Nimbus IPO date? - this may be the leading indicator to watch out for

Editor:- October 1, 2013 - I was talking recently to Tom Isakovich, CEO and founder of Nimbus Data Systems...

I asked Tom if he thought the air of uncertainty hanging around competitors in the SSD systems market was affecting the competitive situation for his own company. In particular I raised the subject of Whiptail's announced acquisition by Cisco (would the products still be available? or would some get dropped - like when IBM acquired TMS). The ticker ride for VMEM was still a week into the future when we spoke but anyone who had read Violin's IPO disclosures could see their predicament.

He said Nimbus rarely encounters those other SSD companies as competitors in customer sites - so he didn't expect to see any short term impact either way. Tom views his real competitors as being the big traditional storage companies and so when Nimbus gets an order from a customer who has been using big name storage - he regards that as being far more significant than beating another SSD systems "startup" - because Nimbus is competing against prevailing customer inertia.

He also said that apart from any technical differences between Nimbus and Violin (he thinks Nimbus's software stack is better) - the other difference is that Violin hasn't been profitable and its revenue growth rate has been unreliable.

In contrast to many other SSD companies at the present time - he said:-
  • Nimbus is profitable,
  • their sales have tripled this year and
  • he expects sales to triple again next year
Being funded by customers - like a traditional business - means there's no urgency to rush to an IPO. Tom said the likeliest date he could envisage for an IPO would be towards the end of 2014.

We moved onto the subject of why enterprise customers buy SSD arrays - and we traded stories about some of the explanations which get tossed around like IOPS per dollar - which when you scrutinize them in any detail are ridiculous. We've both seen leading edge silicon SSD companies put nonsensical graphs into their marketing presentations which don't lead you anywhere useful in the real world if you follow the superficial analysis. (That's because these vendors don't make systems - and are many steps removed from genuine enterprise thinking.)

Tom said most of his customers couldn't tell you how many IOPS their apps were demanding.

I said I've been writing about the "cost of satisfying a given number of virtual users for a particular type of app" as being a useful comparison figure (for storage). We both agreed that even if enterprises don't know for sure what their throughputs or IOPS are - they have a good idea of how many users they're trying to serve within their organization or at customer facing web interfaces. The payroll tells you one, the marketing people can tell you the other. And accounting can tell you how much it all costs. You don't need storage analyzer tools to get a feeling for where the ground level lies.

After we had been talking for about 40 minutes I said - what was it you originally wanted to talk to me about? - because I knew this conversation had been set up to coincide with some sort of announcement - but I hadn't seen any details yet. Tom said he knows that after talking to me for over 10 years I rarely look at any briefing documents in advance and when I do I never stick to any planned presentation agenda - so he hadn't sent me anything.

But as our conversation had already veered towards the subject of a simple way that users can compare the costs of SSD storage for particular types of apps - and as I'd asked the question - he said there was a benchmark called IOmark-VDI which Nimbus had participated in recently with the Evaluator Group. He said he went into the process because he thought it might be a good thing to try out - and was gratified to found out that it shows the Nimbus product in a very good light with a cost under $40 per virtual desktop (pdf) achieved by a 2U Nimbus system supporting up to 4,032 linked clone VDI images. So that was a good note to end on.

Now - if any of you have seen Tom's SSD blogs - then you'll know that he's been averaging somewhere between one and two a year. And a few minutes after our conversation had ended - and while pondering these various matters I thought of a good way to summarize things.

So I sent Tom this email - "when I see you updating your blog on a weekly basis I'll know that your IPO date is impending."
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SSD market history - I've been involved with the SSD market for over 20 years. This popular history article is based on archived news and articles extracted from thousands of SSD stories I've reported on.

the Top SSD Companies - this quarterly market tracker has been giving advance signals about changes in SSD technology adoption and business changes since 2007.

Exiting the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing - Justifying the cost of enterprise SSDs has often been muddled and confusing because many vendors used arguments which were inconsistent, irrational or lacked data - due to the fact they didn't understand the customer experience.

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We're now nearing a pivotal point in the enterprise SSD market where the long held assumptions I helped to encourage (especially how many leading systems vendors there will be in the market at the same time) are about to be changed dramatically.
90% of enterprise SSD companies have no good reasons to survive

"What we're seeing all of sudden is a dramatic increase in the number of single-technology vendors, particularly all-flash-array sellers, trying to argue that their technology is the only tool for the job and therefore, flash is the saviour of all storage woes. "
Gavin McLaughlin, XIO - in his recent blog Beware of Square-Peg Salesmen with Hammers (September 30, 2013)

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history of the SSD market
DWPD - examples from the market
surviving SSD power loss - all SSDs
capacitor hold up extremes in 2.5" SSDs
trends in the enterprise PCIe SSD market
enterprise adoption of flash - 2004 to 2016
spinning down to HDD's market retirement

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"Little words can have with big meanings in the world of SSDs. They affect price, performance, reliability and user happiness."
flash SSD jargon explained



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