| leading the way to the
new storage frontier
|RAID, Inc repurposes SAS
JBODs to PCIe SSDs inside|
Editor:- October 31, 2013 - When I
started writing about applications for removable
2.5" PCIe SSDs
last year - one of the no-brainers was that oems who want to push the
boundaries of good old fashioned raw
fast SSD throughput
- and who already have legacy
SAS SSD based boxes
(which they've already speeded up from
HDD origins) will
replumb the wiring and up-market these systems to a higher performance level
again - as super high speed (and more modern sounding) "PCIe SSD inside"
That's what it looks like RAID, Inc is doing in
its 2U 24-Bay SSD/SAS
Ability EBOD - which only a year ago was impressively fast enough when
populated with SMART's
SAS drives - but now can go faster still with 2.5" PCIe SSDs instead.
When you add enough of these building blocks in a system you can get
- 768GB/s full duplex connectivity according to a recent
by the company - (although the exact configuration details are still unknown to
me). These new 2U bays with 24 PCIe SSDs inside will be shown at the
SuperComputing 2013 show next
month in Denver, CO. RAID, Inc already uses PCIe SSDs from
Fusion-io in its
client server nodes BTW.
Virtium's new VP of sales
Editor:- October 30, 2013 -
that Michael Nilsson
has joined the company as senior VP of sales.
as you can see from Mike Nilsson's profile page - he knows the SSD industry
better than most - having been VP of sales at
before that he also spent 6 years in another well known memory company -
Fujitsu Microelectronics -
which nowadays operates at the fringes of SSD technology with its
(Ferroelectric Random Access Memory).
Crocus seeks to annul core STT patents
October 30, 2013 - Within the
SSD market all
those other types of of non volatile memory appear as mere driblets
compared to a sea of flash
memory - but that could change one day so it's worthwhile for budding
nano-magneto cellulikes to cement sound patent foundations.
already done that thing" - aka "prior art"
- is the root of a petition (announced
yesterday) by Crocus
Technology for the US Patent and
Trademark Office to dismiss patent
(high speed low power magnetic memory device stuff) which is part of the IP
potfolio of competitor - Spin
OCZ's new enterprise SSD health care tool
October 29, 2013 - OCZ
the availability for immediate download of a new enterprise
management tool which leverages the internal SMART log files and controllers in
OCZ's enterprise SSDs installed on various hosts and operating systems in
the customer's connected networks.
"SSDs have become a critical
component of the modern data center and IT managers expect enterprise-tools that
optimally manage and maintain them. Our StoragePro XL management system is
designed to centrally manage our complete portfolio of enterprise drives
covering SATA, SAS and PCIe and does so in a very easy and non-obtrusive manner"
said Dr. Allon Cohen
VP of Software and Solutions for OCZ. "This level of remote host and SSD
management provides the system information and SSD health that IT professionals
- provides a structured group-based view of host and SSD activity throughout
the data center
- enables customisable alerts triggered by parameters in SMART log data
- simplifies SSD installation - such as firmware updates
Editor's comments:- the
simplest way to get what all this is about is to click on the
XL product page which shows various screenshots.
- can generate SSD maintenance reports - such as raw read error rate,
wear-out stats, and other usage data
the SSD reliability
SSD testing &
seniors live longer in my SSD care home
WhipTail is now part of Cisco
Editor:- October 29,
2013 - Cisco
today announced it
has completed the acquisition
WhipTail's solid state memory systems will be integrated as efficient
performance accelerators into the computing fabric of Cisco's
Toshiba ships 30 DWPD SAS SSDs
Editor:- October 28,
2013 - Toshiba
immediate availability of a new
SAS SSD product line -
(pdf) (upto 800GB) - which is rated at 30 DWPD (diskful write per day for 5
Editor's comments:- in the associated press release -
Toshiba's product marketing manager for this business unit - Don Jeanette
says "Toshiba's unique integrated SSD design and manufacturing capability
ensures that key components of the SSD, including NAND flash, are designed by
But I'm wondering if these products - which use 24nm
get a little help from the flash management IP developed by
way that DensBits
delivers its memory
modem technology (a variant of
DSP technology) to licensees like
Toshiba is to provide an
algorithm suite to SSD oems which they integrate in their own
architecture. I've asked the question and will let you know if I get
confirmation either way.
30 DWPD is an impressive
If you need higher - 50 DWPD is available from the
Ultra+ product line - designed ny
SMART - which is
now available from SanDisk
- although this Optimus model is currently 6Gbps rather than 12.
Pure Storage open for business in Singapore
October 25, 2013 - Pure
Storage - today
the opening of a sales office in Singapore and the appointment of S&I Systems Pte Ltd as its local
distributor in the region for the entire
FlashArray (rackmount SSD)
how to turn around Fusion-io?
Editor:- October 23,
2013 - Fusion-io
announced several changes in key
personnel coincidentally with its latest
report - in which revenue ($86 million) declined 27% compared to
the year ago period. The people changes include:-
- departure of the company's CFO Dennis Wolf,
Editor's comments:- you might
think it's ironic that Fusion-io - the company which established the legitimacy
of PCIe SSDs as a key
center of gravity within enterprise
technology space - has now turned to one of the industry's newest PCIe SSD
vendors for a sense of business direction. But this makes sense for several
of a new board member - Dr. Edward H. Frank (whose past includes Apple,
Broadcom and Sun Microsystems).
- In the same year in which LSI entered the PCIe SSD market it also became
the #2 company in shipment volumes. So LSI does have some things it can teach
Fusion-io about other ways it can do business - even if FIO's core technology
assets in software are significantly better.
We'll have to see what new strategies emerge from the
company. Doing more things better from a marketing perspective costs more - so
some investors might howl in the short term. But if it takes them and FIO's
customers to a better place then they've been sliding towards recently
- the investors won't grumble.
- Over and above whatever is happening in the hotly contested PCIe SSD
market - however - Fusion-io in the past year has also embarked on serious
investments and customer facing commitments on a course which could (if
executed properly) also make the company a leader in 2 product categories
rackmount SSD market.
I said "if executed properly" advisedly - because seen
from an external perspective FIO's rackmount systems shop looks more like it
has been resourced like a Cinderella sideline - as a stall dressed
simply to sell more PCIe SSDs.
fast SSD boxes and
hybrid arrays are a
serious business opportunity for FIO (and I think they are) then it's not
enough of a business development strategy to develop the raw technology,
throw some webinars saying "it works" at YouTube - and waiting to
see what happens.
Fusion-io's rackmount SSD business - is going
head to head with other competitors for whom this is their main thing. So FIO's
systems business needs to have its own
clearer sense of identity.
That means more marketing, more
resources and more cash to support the different business characteristics of
PS - OK if you are one of those still
grumbling - then before you send me an email - here's another footnote.
you didn't see the detailed bit at the center of my
SSD software event horizon blog -
which talked about the revenue pain which results from the escalating
effect of SSD utilization improvements (from software) when they are
delivered to a non diverse customer base in too short an elapsed time period.
The effect is the same as if Boeing rang up all its airline
customers and said - we've got a new technology improvement which lets you
carry 3x as many passengers in the same plane body while using the
same total fuel. And BTW - we can deliver it to you as a free upgrade to
your existing fleets too.
Now we all suspect that in the aircraft
business - if they could do such an improvement - they'd hush it up - and hope
instead to stretch out the competitive gain over 20 to 30 years. Because it
would be bad business to do otherwise - as the airline passenger market
couldn't grow fast enough to absorb such a rapid scale up in utilization
But the SSD market is different. If you don't keep
improving your products now - someone else will come along and take your
place. And SSD passenger numbers have
a long way to grow
yet - because most apps servers aren't frequent flyers on SSD
You may decide that my ratios are too timid - I said to Skyera's
CEO - Rado Danilak.
If so - scare us!
22, 2013 - As I discussed in a recent blog -
SSD market is an exciting hot spot for developments right now. (I'm not
talking here about IPOs,
although they're exciting enough for stakeholders in the hot seats or those
hoping to hold the hot tickets - but I'm talking here about real technical
Rackmount SSD enhanced storage is exciting today because
there are now things you can do with software and hardware architecture at the
complete storage array level - which are outside and beyond the reach and ken
of the cleverest controllers
within any individual SSD drive.
I hinted at the consequences we can
expect to see when you factor in all the architecture and software changes which
I know are in the pipe (both within server-side and SAN SSD storage) in my
new SSD software event horizon blog.
(Perhaps an alternative title might have included the phrase "inflexion-point"
- but anyway it's out there.) I've had some good reactions to that article
from people inside the industry - although like many of these articles it may
be a year or so before these factors are shaking the SSD market so much that
the concepts become widely known.
But I was curious to get the
reaction of one particular company - which for several reasons which I've
described before - seems to me to be at the leading edge of more of these
technology trends at the same time in a single product line than any other
single company (which is not in stealth mode). So I set up a meeting with Skyera.
probably know who they are - because they were one of the very few companies in
SSD market history which in the same quarter as they emerged from stealth mode
also made it into the Top SSD Companies List. That was back in
my email last week to the founder and CEO Rado Danilak
I talked about my event-horizon article and invited him to talk to me about
these concepts. This is a cut and paste of what I said....
My key point
is that with modern designs and new architecture and new software - it doesn't
take a petabyte of SSD
to replace a legacy petabyte of HDD at the enterprise or cloud level.
The kind of ratio which can be achieved in the next few years is very
much higher. So high - in fact - when you take into account the possibility of
apps and operating systems which will be rewritten for SSD - that people had
better get used to the idea. That's it really.
Obviously the ratio of what is do-able now will improve - as the SSD
software ecosystem gets more confidence.
You may decide that my ratios are too timid. If so - scare us.
And that's what led to an hour of me talking about the enterprise
flash storage market to both Rado Danilak (CEO) and
Tony Barbagallo (VP
Marketing) at Skyera.
Early in the conversation I said that I and
many competitors in the market I've discussed this with - regard Skyera as being
the company to beat in terms of
cost per terabyte
of rackmount SSD
on the SAN - above a floor
capacity level - and within some defined compatibility segments.
I also know that due to the cautious nature of the enterprise market - and with
Skyera being a new company with new technology - I wouldn't expect them to get
much real business traction within their ideal customer group - until after the
obligatory 2 years waiting period on hardware reliability and software
stability which faces all newcomers to the enterprise.
you had all your perfectly baked enterprise SSD cake - with all the software
trimmings which are still a year or so in the future - available right now in
your restaurant and offered it to these people at that futuristically low price
today - they wouldn't want to taste it" - I said. "They don't want
to risk being poisoned by Rado's crappy flash SSD juice. They prefer other
people to experiment with the new e-SSD chef in town. You just have to live with
that. In another few years these same cautious types may be saying to everyone
they know - don't you just love dining at Skyera?"
One of the
difficulties is that people don't really understand enough to appreciate what
Skyera has got and is offering. It looks to me - I said - that you could
thrash around with blogs and interviews which skirt around these design issues
- but most people still won't get it. Others - the most experienced SSD users
would understand. They're the ones who matter. (But understanding what you do
and being interested isn't the same as buying the product in huge numbers yet.
(Although some dark
matter users might.)
That got me onto the idea of suggesting a new
channel partners program for the upcoming skyEagle (which gives you a petabyte
of SSD in 2U) to educate
the market about the positioning of this efficiently designed flash array.
My suggestions were along the lines...
Tony liked the idea - and I said he could use it in future ads or
communications if he thought it would work. (If you work at another SSD company
and want me to suggest a better way to explain what you do - your know where to
- Wrap it in a bigger box.
- Add bricks to make it heavy.
- Add a heater to make it run warmer.
- Double the price to make it more acceptable.
We got pretty quickly into - how complicated it is for
people to understand what's really important in the enterprise SSD market.
I've been in the enterprise market for a long time and my experience
goes something like this....
Every year I learn 2 new important new
ideas about SSDs.
But every year I also have to remember to forget
or discard 1 old idea which was vital to know before because it's no
longer useful, valid or true.
"What made you go into the
enterprise market?" - I asked. This was particularly aimed at Rado - whose
previous products have been used wherever SSDs are used - but which wasn't
particularly focused on enterprise systems.
Rado said - "I had the
benefit of the brick wall of ignorance. Not knowing what couldn't be done."
went on to say how once he decided to optimize around the flash, that meant
throwing way conventional interfaces, that mean he needed more software to tie
it all together.
As I've previously elaborated in my article on
controller architecture - there are optimizations you can do when you have
access to a bigger arrays of flash - which are impossible when you're trying to
optimize around the single drive level - or arrays of drives level.
said he had an initial list of efficiencies which he thought he might be able to
do - but he said the more you work with large amounts of flash in a system the
more you understand - and he's now in a position where he and his team will
revisit older assumptions they had - which gives them the ability to expand
their efficiencies by impressive multiples - even taking where they already are
the starting point.
Rado told me that the really impressive efficiency
numbers (in flash utilization) which are being worked on - are all in the
software. (That's similar to what other array vendors have said too.)
said that in Skyera - it's already the case that 3/4 of the engineers are
working on software - and Skyera is hiring more software people - so that ratio
Rado asked me about the raw assumptions I had used in doing
the scaling and efficiency projections in my article. Mostly I said - they had
come from earlier articles (and I sent him the links) but collectively the
calculation of what I thought was do-able was simply based on combining all the
different bits of IP that SSD companies tell me about - churning them through
some simple architecture sanity tests - and then applying some discounts and
backtracking for the things which might not work as well as had been originally
I said (in a later follow up) that whatever crazy numbers
I come up with in some long range SSD forecasting article - the market usually
beats that number by 1 or 2 years - or by a factor of x2 - due to something
innovative being done which was previously unknown or thought to be impossible.
(I may add the detailed assumptions for readers as an appendix later.)
Unlike the designers and software developers who have to make these all these
impossible things work - all I have to do is steal the top level idea of what
they're doing, assume it does work and then model what effect that has on a
complete SSD installation. Because the sum of the parts includes the app servers
- and SSD ecosystem-aware software. It's about more than just scaling up
efficiencies in the storage arrays. The results are impressive.
spoke about segmentation
within the enterprise and why the old fashioned ways of describing customers,
products and apps use cases don't provide adequate models in the SSD case.
the SSD context it's frequently the case that different customers in the same
market, or the same customer within different parts of their own organization -
will choose solutions which appear
different at the raw technology level - simply because some products are a
better match for their requirements for compatibility or ease of managing risk
and roadmaps at that point in time.
The same customer - with 5 years
more experience of using SSDs under their belt may start new projects with a
completely different approach to how they want to see things moving along - and
the level of incrementation they prefer to work with - at the upgrade or
level. No single product can satisfy all these conflicting needs.
wondered if I should quote more of what Rado said in this report about the
kind of improvements he says are still to come in his own company's roadmap.
I said I think it would be best for me to hold off for now.
(and the enterprise SSD industry) need to do a better job of explaining the
consequences of some of the remarkable things they've already done (or can do)
with their new systems. When that "do-able now" is firmly grasped -
then the "do-able next thing" will seem even more impressive (or
I promise you will get more updates on this topic soon.
inside the SSD box
internecine SSD competitive advantage
meet Ken and the enterprise SSD software
|"We're going to really
be the leaders in the market for converged infrastructure and how this stuff
really behaves together when its designed holistically...|
the UCS product line is a fairly young product line and the WhipTail product
line is a fairly young product line, we have the ability to leverage all the
strengths of everything in Ciscos product spacenetworking and computing and now
solid state persistenceand really bring together all these pieces into a high
performance distributed infrastructure..."
Crain, CEO of WhipTail
- from the article -
has just become part of Cisco (interview transcript) - October 29, 2013|
||the Top SSD Companies -
this quarterly market tracker has been giving advance signals about
changes in SSD technology adoption and business changes since 2007.|
||hostage to the
fortunes of SSD - why are so many companies piling into the SSD market -
when even the leading enterprise companies haven't demonstrated sustainable
business models yet?|
|do more tiers reduce waste?|
|Editor:- October 15, 2013 - The wastefulness of conventional storage
tiering is discussed in a recent blog -
On From Storage Tiering - by Chris M Evans, publisher
of Architecting IT - who
advocates the concept of having an infinite number of tiers so that - "each
server will be closer to receiving the performance level they need."|
goes on to say - "If we can deliver that, move the data between tiers
dynamically and fix the wasted capacity issue within each tier, then we have our
ultimate storage device." ...read
Editor's comments:- The problem with
implementing this is that the most economical way to design storage systems is
still dependent on the likely speed and capacity characteristics.
buy products and they have to understand the differences between the products
they see in the market. (That job of segmentation is just as important for
marketers to implement precisely as the
easier bits they
spend more time and money on.)
When I analyzed all the different
types of SSDs you need in the datacenter - from the architecture and use cases
point of view - I got to about 7 different types - which are distinctly
different - as described in my
SSD silos model -
which covers the spectrum from ultrafast RAM to archive solid state storage.
SSD product which has been optimized for any one of these distinct uses will
be uneconomic or less competitive for the other uses.
think infinite tiers - as proposed in Chris Evans's blog - can exist OK as
logical concepts in software
- but these infinite tiers will still have to map onto a distinct set of no
more than maybe 3 to 4 different physical SSD tiers in most customer sites.
Otherwise they will be wasteful and too expensive.
In the currently
forseeable state of semiconductor
technology - the bounds of physics and
architecture favor designs in which you know in advance what kind of use the
memory cell population in each part of your SSD is being optimized for.
for a sprint requires a different care conditioning regime to training for a
Although you can switch streams and repurpose cells
dynamically - which is what
is all about - this is done within the context of knowing which kind of race the
SSD is in from the outset. Running half a marathon fast and then dying due to
is not an attractive product option.
See also:- auto-tiering / caching / SSD
ASAPs, marketing SSD
care schemes, inside