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searching for Storage Area Networks?
by Zsolt Kerekes, editor -

I first published a directory of Fibre-channel adapters way back in 1994 - as one of the many buyers guides within the SPARC Product Directory.

When I moved all the storage stuff here to in 1998 - SANs were one of the most popular subjects - and I expanded our coverage to include many other topics which mushroomed around the SAN space such as routers, switches, GBICs, SSDs, training, security etc

Today - with hundreds of companies in the SAN market the old long lists which used to be on this page are no longer useful for helping you find SAN content.

Instead I suggest you can use site search below to find SAN related vendors, guides and articles - or click on this link to get a prepulated search for SAN which you can extend by adding your own terms.
In recent years I've been using "FC" as an abbreviation for "fibre-channel" - particularly when it comes to adapters and drives. So using FC in your searches will also get you useful results:- as for example in this link FC SSDs (search).

Because I've written about the SAN market since the technology started I've been consistent about the way I used terms in news stories and vendor profiles.

Therefore NAS and iSCSI - which started as much later ethernet related terms are not going to get scrambled with your SAN search results - unless there's a good reason.

The exception is "IP SAN" - which is a term I resisted using for many years - but has become widely adopted by vendors as a (they think it's cool but I think it's misleading) alternative to the perfectly good legacy terms which existed before.

In the early 2000s I started a list of SAN software vendors. That became irrelevant as a directory after a few years when it became clear that most serious enterprise software vendors had to support storage networks of all types otherwise they weren't doing anything useful in the market.

Although all the content here on the mouse site is transitioning to solid state storage - you'll still find hundreds of articles and thousands of news stories about traditional FC storage products on this site by using the searches above.
classic SAN articles from storage history

SAN Applications
SAN History's 1st Decade
A Storage Architecture Guide
Tuning SANs with Solid State Disks
SAN Data Security & Fabric Management
I was talking to an end user whose organization has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on EMC storage. They'd love to decouple themselves and benefit from modern lower cost flash.

But the flash marketers in startups aren't doing those kinds of conversations.

For many of them a single customer like that is bigger than their whole business plan.
"compared to EMC" - the unreal positioning of AFA startups
"The decades old architectures of SAN and NAS, originally devised for the physical world, are still the dominant enterprise deployment architectures and are not particularly well suited for the virtual world. These architectures are still based on the notion of a storage box or storage array... The constructs used for storage abstraction, such as LUNs, volumes, files, etc., do not align well with virtual machine constructs."
Enterprise storage is broken! - blog by Maxta (2013)
90% of the enterprise SSD companies which you know have no good reasons to survive.
this way to market consolidation
LSI Logic Storage Systems - MetaStor E-Series
MetaStor E4600 SAN
from LSI Logic Storage Systems
Editor's notes from storage history.

Back in 2002 LSI advertised here on They'd started many years earlier - when the SPARC systems market was important - and we published the SPARC Product Directory.

Clicking on the MetaStor E4600 links above takes you to an archived page which shows the tech specs of the product at that time.

SAN (Storage Area Networks)

what changed in SSD year 2016?
auto tiering SSDs / SSD ASAPs
flash wars in the enterprise SSD market
Ratios of SSD capacity - server vs SAN
Exiting the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing
Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise for rackmount SSDs
see SAN image in Megabyte cartoon
... Inspired by the movie City Slickers
Megabyte was experimenting with
a traditional data round-up technique.
SAN news
a new name in SSD fabric software

Editor:- March 8, 2017 - A new SSD software company - Excelero - has emerged from stealth today.

Excelero which describes itself as - "a disruptor in software-defined block storage" announced version 1.1 of its NVMesh® Server SAN software "for exceptional Flash performance for web and enterprise applications at any scale."

The company was funded in part by Fusion-io's founder David Flynn.

Editor's comments:- An easy way to understand what this kind of software can do for you is to see how Excelero created a petabyte-scale shared NVMe pool for exploratory computing for an early customer - NASA/Ames. The mitigation of latency and bandwidth penalties enabled by the new environment enabled "compute nodes to access data anywhere within a data set without worrying about locality" and helped to change the way that researchers could interact with the data sets which previously had been constrained in many small islands of low latency. the white paper (pdf).

SSD fabrics - companies and past mentions
NVMe over Fabric and other SSD ideas which defined 2016
Inanimate Power, Speed and Strength Metaphors in SSD brands

who's well regarded in networked storage?

Editor:- February 1, 2017, 2017 - IT Brand Pulse today announced the results of its recent survey covering brand perceptions in the networked storage market.

See also:- Branding Strategies in the SSD Market, Storage SoothSayers

from industrial controllers to AFAs HPC - a tale of SSD market influences

Editor:- November 15, 2016 - Recently I spoke to AccelStor's President - Charles Tsai. We talked about many changing influences in the SSD market. I thought you might be interested to see some of the things we spoke about in a new blog on because it will give you an idea of how many strategic changes in the SSD market can now influence every business decision about what new products to create - even when those changing factors seem at first to be only loosely connected like the flash controller, industrial SSD, SCM, software and enterprise rackmount SSD markets. But all those factors entwined the flow of this SSD conversation which really started 2 years before. the article

69,000 flash dies per U in Nimbus's ExaFlash

Editor:- September 9, 2016 - Efficiency of the internal design and architecture is one of the competitive marketing differences between SSD boxes and drives. Because when customers see vastly different size packages claiming to do the same thing. It's one of the aspects which accounts for cost difference.

In simpler times it was easy to estimate how many memory chips were being used inside any SSD. Now it's difficult due to many different flash memory generations co-existing in the market and delivering similar roles (from a DWPD angle) while using dissimilar controller IP and software.

So it was useful to see in a recent press release (from Nimbus) that 276,480 NAND dies are used to implement 4.5 petabytes of raw storage in a 4U system which was launched recently.

Plexistor demonstrates low latency memory fabric on commodity hardware

Editor:- August 19, 2016 - If you don't want to be tied to any particular proprietary big memory hardware - but do need memory fabric - what kind of performance can you expect using software absrtaction products?

Plexistor recently demonstrated it can handle millions of remote writes per second at latencies as low as a few microseconds in a benchmark on Mellanox infrastructure over 100GbE using Plexistor's persistent memory over fabric software.

Benchmarks performed on a Mellanox infrastructure over 100GbE using Plexistor's PMoF Brick demonstrated record performance: more than 1.6 million random 4KB IOPS at less than 6µs with throughput of 7GB/sec.

thinking about latency?

Editor:- May 9, 2016 - "Little's Law is key to understanding why lower latency is good" says Woody Hutsell, Technologist, Evangelist - IBM in series 2, episode 4 - the SSD Bookmarks - published recently on the article

Editor's comments:- you'll need to set aside some serious reading time when you follow up Woody's article suggestions.

3D TLC is good enough to last 7 years
in 1 DWPD Kaminario customer base

Editor:- August 21, 2015 - One of the early new SSD ideas in 2014 was that 3D nand flash was tough enough to consider using in industrial SSDs so it was no surprise when 3D flash started to appear in volume production of enterprise SSD accelerators such as Samsung's 10 DWPD NVMe PCIe SSDs in September 2014.

So the recent announcement by Kaminario that it will soon ship 3D TLC (3 bits) flash in its K2 rackmount SSDs can be seen as a predictable marker in the long term trend of flash adoption in the enterprise.

Less predictable, than the price (under $1,000/TB for usable systems capacity) however, is that Kaminario is offering a 7 years endurance related systems warranty.

disk writes per day in enterprise SSDs
This factor - discussed in a Kaminario blog - tells us more about Kaminario's customer base than it tells us about flash endurance however.

Kaminario says its HealthShield "has been collecting endurance statistics for the past few years, and from analyzing the data we see that 97% of (our) customers are writing less than a single write per day (under 1 DWPD) of the entire capacity."

This is one aspect of a trend I wrote about a few years ago - thinking inside the box - which is that designers of integrated systems have more freedom of choice in their memories than designers of standard SSD drives - because they have visibility and control of more layers of software and can leverage other architectural factors.

A competent box level SSD designer can make better decisions about how to translate raw R/W intentions (from the host) into optimized R/W activities at the flash .

This is especially the case when the designers are also collecting raw data about the workloads used in their own customer bases. The customer experience is more important than slavishly designing systems which look good in artificial benchmarks.


click to see the tv SSDs page - about movie creation, IPTV servers, set top boxes and DVRs using SSDs
SSD videos
Editor:- July 18, 2015 - A ruggedized rackmount SSD from EMC - the VNXe3200 (pdf) - is part of the electronics tour kit which the rock band U2 uses to refine and capture its audience experience according to a new blog - U2 tours with AFA to rock the latest video effects on Computerworld written by editorial director Elizabeth Heichler who says the group's technical support crew captures data from than 20 video cameras during each show. the article

Editor's comments:- now every supergroup will want their own EMC flash array. A BBC online video -Play it Loud - the Story of the Marshall Amp - tells the story of an earlier generation of must-have stackable boxes.

Alas my own experience in my brother's school band in 1973 was the opposite of Loud on the 2nd and final public occasion when my home made guitar amp blew up while we were playing the same Chuck Berry number for about the 3rd time. I never truly appreciated the need for heat sinks until a mandatory thermodynamics unit appeared in my electronics course 3 years later.

hyper-converged storage weighed against SANs - in small configurations - new blog

Editor:- June 16, 2015 - One of the problems with traditional SANs - particularly in low end sites - is the reliability of the SAN itself - says Sushant Rao, Senior Director, Product Marketing - DataCore in a new slideshare - How SDS enhances hyper-converged storage.

Sushant says - "If the SAN goes offline for any reason, it doesn't matter that you may have 2 servers - the applications have an outage - which disrupts the business."

His article then goes on to look at the advantages of hyper-converged systems - from the conceptual point of view - and then in more detail how SDS can be a practical and reliable architectural choice of implementation for regional offices etc. the article

less than 10% of FC SAN sites rely on 3rd party benchmarks

Editor:- June 9, 2015 - Load DynamiX (a storage performance testing and validation company) recently released the results of a survey (pdf) characterized by heavy users of FC SANs (71%) and 2PB or more of data (76%).

Among the findings in this set of 115 participants:-
  • over half (54%) planned to add all flash arrays to their storage assets in the next year
  • one third (34%) used custom performance scripts as part of their pre purchase and deployment evaluations
  • users were heavily reliant on their current and potential vendors for news about new products and technologies - and nearly twice as likely (83%) to rely on news from vendors compared to online magazines (44%) the article (pdf)

Nimble's progress in FC SAN

Editor:- May 26 , 2015 - Nimble Storage's CEO, Suresh Vasudevan said "Fibre Channel was 14% of our total bookings" - in questions and answers related to the company's recent earnings report (transcript).

FalconStor shows why it took so many years to launch an SSDcentric next software thing

image shows software factory - click to see storage software directory
SSD software
Editor:- February 19, 2015 - You might think there are enough SDS companies already - but SSDcentric data architectures are pulling system solutions in different directions - so until the dust settles and the landscape looks clearer - there are plenty of gaps for new companies to enter the market.

The most significant this week was FalconStor - who announced a new SSDcentric storage pool redeployment and management platform called FreeStor - which the company says works across legacy, modern and virtual environments.

FalconStor says - "The heart of FreeStor is the Intelligent Abstraction layer. It's a virtual Rosetta Stone that allows data - in all its forms - to migrate to, from and across all platforms, be it physical or virtual."

They've posted a good video which describes it all.

FalconStor's natural partners are enterprise SSD systems vendors and integrators who have good products but who don't have a complete (user environmentally rounded) software stack.

Editor's comments:- For 4 years FalconStor gave me the impression of a storage software company which didn't know what it wa going to do with the SSD market - despite having a base of thousands of customers in the enterprise storage software market.

FalconStor's delay can now be explained. They were studying what needed to be done - and it took a lot of work.

If you want to understand who else is offering a product concept which is similar in vision to FalconStor's FreeStor - I'd say Primary Data. Although due to a difference in ultimate scaling aspirations and markets - I would say that FalconStor's product is lower end and currently more accessible. Part of the reason being that FalconStor already has a customer base for pre SSD era software - which they are hoping to convert incrementally.

Emulex's 16GFC technology supported by DataCore

Editor:- January 28, 2015 - Emulex today announced that DataCore is releasing target mode support in its new SANsymphony V10 software-defined storage platform, for Emulex's Gen 5 (16GFC) HBA technology.

Kaminario gets another $53 million funding

Editor:- December 2, 2014 - Kaminario today announced it has closed an oversubscribed $53 million financing round, bringing total raised capital to $128 million. Kaminario says it will use the new investment to accelerate business growth.

Editor's comments:- Kaminario rose 3 places compared to the previous quarter - in the recently published Top SSD Companies in Q3 2014.

Dot Hill's messages today

Editor:- November 4, 2014 - I haven't mentioned Dot Hill on these news pages for a while - but a press release from the company today triggered a bunch of random reactions in my brain which almost - for me - drowned out the significance of the central idea of their new product announcement (a new SAN compatible hybrid storage box - and software).

2 of the distracting internal noises (in my head) were sparked by product names:-
  • "Dot Hill's entire line of storage systems (are) equipped with the latest generation AssuredSAN 4004 storage controllers."

    I'm sorry guys. I know numbers are just numbers. But for me the 4004 controller will always be that chip family from Intel which was the first rumble in the microprocessor revolution.
  • RealTier, RealCache, RealQuick, RealPool - and others in Dot Hill 's real-suffix list of product feature names - distracted me with the recollection that 3 years before sampling its first ever real PCIe SSD - the so-called RealSSD P320h (in June 2011) - Micron had demonstrated a less real (prototype / concept demonstrator) PCIe SSD - which never made it to market. So - for me - the word "Real" attached to an SSD related product - already has many associations.
These notes show that the names you give to SSD related products matter a lot - because the concepts which spring to mind when people read these words and numbers - depend on what else they have read before.

On the other hand - I congratulate Dot Hill for having planted these 2 messages in their press release text today.
  • The idea of a 37-month "bumper-to-bumper" warranty.
  • And this great customer quote...

    "This is absolutely the best product we've purchased in the last 25 years."

HA SSD arrays - are now mainstream

Editor:- October 13, 2014 - It's strange how a subject which I first heard about as an exotic reference in a lecture 38 years ago keeps coming back to me in different ways.

But coming back to the present day - I can confidently tell you that fault tolerant / high availability SSD systems have now entered the mainstream of the SSD market.

Furthermore I suspect that debates about all the differing faiths of SSD systems level reliability (and what "reliability" itself means) could (one day soon) come to consume nearly as much of your time on the web (when researching enterprise flash) as reading about endurance did before.

See how this journey began for me - and also how you may have come into this equation too - in my new blog on

rackmount SSDs - new reports from Evaluator Group

Editor:- September 24, 2014 - Evaluator Group today announced it's expanding its comparison report coverage (priced from around $2,750 for IT end-users) related to rackmount SSD and hybrid array vendors.

The latest addition to EV's research area are product analyses for 15 vendors, including: Cisco, EMC, HDS, HP, IBM, Kaminario, NetApp, Nimble, Nimbus, Pure Storage, SanDisk, SolidFire, Tegile, Tintri and Violin.

"Over the next 3 years Evaluator Group expects Solid State Storage Systems to be the architecture adopted for primary storage," said Camberley Bates, Managing Partner & Analyst at Evaluator Group. "Performance to reduce latency and improve consistency, along with reliability and efficiency functionality will drive this change. It is important IT end users understand the trade-offs of design and technical implementation to best suit their needs."

Using the Solid State Evaluation Guide to understand the critical technology characteristics EV says IT end users can clearly identify their requirements and priorities. The Solid State Comparison Matrix allows for side-by-side comparison of product specifications and capabilities. Evaluator Group guides IT end users through the process with product reviews and expertise on managing and conducting a Proof of Concept. Evaluator Group Solid State Storage Systems coverage includes products specifically designed to exploit the characteristics of all solid state deployment.

What will you be getting?

EV is offering a free evaluation copy of their report for the IBM FlashSystem to people who sign up for it.

Editor's comments:- with so many different architectural roles for enterprise SSDs and different user preferences - it's unrealistic to suppose that any simple side by side product comparisons will suit all permutations of user needs. But having said that - any reliable information which assists user education and comprehension into SSD arrays is a good thing.

Some flash array vendors - realizing the futility of expecting that users will understand what their products do and how they will interact with the bottlenecks and demands of user installations and workloads - have instead opted to side-step these delay laden hard user selection quandries - which are exaggerated by the concerns of getting it wrong - by instead offering new risk delineated pricing models - as described in my article - Exiting the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing.

See also:- playing the enterprise SSD box riddle game, storage market research, what do enterprise SSD users want?

real-world performance of flash storage systems

Editor:- July 23, 2014 - Editor:- July 23, 2014 - How does flash storage perform in the real world? - Demartek aims to provide some answers by reporting on the performance tests which it has carried out on SSD and hybrid systems from many of the leading enterprise SSD companies in a session next month at the Flash Memory Summit (August 5).

Demartek says attendees will come away with reasonable estimates of what they can expect in practice and the results also reveal additional advantages of flash-based storage, with what Dennis Martin, President - Demartek calls "happy side effects". ...more info (pdf)

See also:- SSD testing & analyzer news, how fast can your SSD run backwards?

A3CUBE unveils PCIe memory fabric for 10,000 node-class PCIe SSD architectures

Editor:- February 25, 2014 - PCIe SSDs can now access a true PCIe connected shared memory fabric designed by A3CUBE - which exited stealth today with the launch of their remote shared broadcast memory network - RONNIEE Express - which provides 700nS (nanoseconds) raw latency (4 byte message) and which enables message throughput - via standard PCIe - which is 8x better than InfiniBand.

Editor's comments:- I spoke to the company's luminaries recently - who say they intend to make this an affordable mainstream solution.

The idea of using PCIe as a fabric to share data at low latency and with fast throughput across a set of closely located servers isn't a new one.

The world's leading PCIe chipmaker PLX started educating designers and systems architects about these possibilities a few years ago - as a way to elegantly answer a new set of scalability problems caused by the increasing adoption of PCIe SSDs. These questions include:-
  • how do you make this expensive resource available to more servers?
  • how do you enable a simple to implement failover mechanism - so that data remains accessible in the event of either a server or SSD fault?
In the least year or so - we've seen most of the leading vendors in the enterprise PCIe SSD market leverage some of the new features in PCIe chips - to implement high availability SSDs with low latency.

But although there are many ways of doing this - the details are different for each vendor.

And - until now - if you wanted to share data at PCIe-like latency across a bunch of PCIe SSDs from different companies - located in different boxes - the simplest way to do that was to bridge across ethernet or infiniband. - And even though it has been technically possible with standard software packages - the integration, education and support issues - compared to legacy SAN or NAS techniques would be extremely daunting.

That's where A3CUBE comes into the picture. Their concept is to provide a box which enables any supported PCIe device to connect to any other - at low latency and with high throughput - in an architecture which scales to many thousands of nodes.

At the heart of this is a shared broadcast memory window - of 128Mbytes - which can be viewed simultaneously by any of the attached ports.

If you've ever used shared remote memory in a supercomputer style of system design at any time in the past 20 years or so - you'll know that the critical thing is how the latency grows as you add more ports. So that was one of the questions I asked.

Here's what I was told - "The latency is related to the dimension of the packet for example: In a real application using a range of 64-256 bytes of messages the 3D torus latency doubled after 1,000 nodes. With larger packets, the number of nodes to double the latency becomes grater. But the real point is that the latency of a simple p2p in a standard 10GE is reached after 29,000 nodes.

"A more clear example of the scalability of the system is this. Imagine that an application experiences a max latency of 4 us with 64 nodes, now we want to scale to 1,000 nodes the max latency that the same application experience will became 4.9 us. 0.9 us of extra latency for 936 more nodes."

Editor again:- Those are very impressive examples - and demonstrates that the "scalability" is inherent in the original product design.

A3CUBE didn't want to say publicly what the costs of the nodes and the box are at this stage. But they answered the question a different way.

Their aim is to price the architecture so that it works out cheaper to run than the legacy (pre-PCIe SSD era) alternatives - and they're hoping that server oems and fast SSD oems will find A3CUBE's way of doing this PCIe fabric scalability stuff - is the ideal way they want to go.

There's a lot more we have to learn - and a lot of testing to be done and software to be written - but for users whose nightmare questions have been - how do I easily scale up to a 10,000 PCIe SSD resource - and when I've got it - how can I simplify changing suppliers? - there's a new safety net being woven. Here are the essential details (pdf).

IBM shows off what's it's been doing with the RamSan rackmount SSD product line it acquired from TMS - and also launches first memory channel SSD based servers

Editor:- January 16, 2014 - For most of the previous decade (2000 to 2009) Texas Memory Systems was THE company which competitors aspired to match in market position when it came to fast rackmount SSDs.

In the early part of this decade (2010 to 2012) TMS lost its monopoly on rackmounts as it inevitably had to share the expanding market with a lot of other companies - starting with Violin (which overtook TMS in brand strength in 2011) and then other companies like WhipTail, Kaminario, Pure Storage, Nimbus and Skyera which had all established strong market recognition by the end of 2012.

But in those latter years (from 2009 onwards) not only was TMS competing against all those newbie rackmount vendors - but it was also engaged in another hotly contested part of the enterprise SSD market in fast PCIe SSDs - where its product line was trying to find a place somewhere in the narrowing gaps between Fusion-io and Virident.

Then a year ago - in January 2013 - IBM completed the acquisition of TMS (which had been announced in August 2012) and since then we haven't heard much about these products apart from a few glimpses - which enabled us to observe that TMS's rackmount products had been retained and renamed - while their PCIe products were quietly end of lifed.

This week - among other things - IBM has launched a new fast rackmount SSD family - whose controller architecture is effectively an enhanced adaptation of TMS's 8th generation RamSan with some tweaks to incorporate newer memory, iron out some RAS wrinkles (you can now change everything inside from the front or back - without sliding the rack out) and a big investment to present a software friendly face. The new software capabilities are being done by products which are being offered as external-to-the-box unbundled subsystems (control enclosures) for those who want them. This means that the performance and efficiency of the raw flash array isn't compromised in any way.

IBM's new SSD box (a 2U HA 16GB FC fast rackmount SSD with upto 48TB usable capacity, priced at $683K approx list) is called the IBM FlashSystem 840.

Earlier this week I spent an hour talking about this new product with Woody Hutsell and Levi Norman - who are both now back in the IBM branded TMS fold having both sampled the delights of some other leading SSD companies in recent years. Woody wrote about his experiences in a recent blog.

As I've known both of them for many years - I couldn't help but start by saying - "This feels like one of those movies - where they decide to make a sequel many years after - but all the actors look much older. It's lucky for us this conversation isn't going out on YouTube."

You can get a flavor of what IBM thinks it's doing with this new product - and more details in its briefing document (pdf) - and I won't repeat much of that detail here.

click to see pdf

Woody said "It's interesting to me how much attention the flash operation is getting within IBM's storage organization."

He went on to say that IBM's big commitments to flash such as the $1 billion investment announced last April are seen within IBM as popular actions "which are important as we need to compete." As a result - many competent people (in IBM) want to be a part of the flashsystems effort.

Anther change in scale since TMS became part of IBM is that the size of the development team for the flash systems rackmount has quadrupled.

Sales are good too. IBM has shipped over 1,500 of these flashsystems. In effect Woody said this was limited by the fact that for 3 quarters IBM shipped everything they had planned to make.

Woody said he thought that this alone - even without all the other SSDs which IBM was selling into the enterprise market meant that IBM was probably on its way to be one of the biggest vendors in the market.

I said - a dominant market share in enterprise flash in 2014 might look like 5 or 10 per cent as there are hundreds of companies in the market. - We'll have to see how things work out.

But my guess is that with a few assumptions about density, channels etc this means this rackmount IBM product line has possibly been generating about $500 million of revenue in the past year - which explains where some of the revenue missing from competitors' reports may have gone to.

Something else which appeared in the briefing paper singing the praises of IBM's expanding universe of enterprise flash product offerings - eXFlash DIMMs - sounded to me like just another name for SanDisk's memory channel SSDs (later confirmed to be the case) which appeared in another announcement IBM server announcements today - see footnotes for more.

What's my final take on this? (FlashSystem 840 announcement)

IBM is now the company to make comparisons with if you're looking for fast rackmount SSDs with some high availability options. Particularly if you're working in a complex environment - are a big customer and think you will be reassured by the availability of compatible products and pre sales technical sales support.

IBM's density - in terms of rack units needed to build a petabyte SSD - is better than some other fast systems - but remains an order of magnitude less efficient than Skyera - due to the difference between IBM's use of eMLC compared to Skyera's claimed ability to use TLC due to adaptive controller architecture - which is 2 generations (4 years) ahead of what's used in this particular IBM box. (Having said that - IBM does already use some degree of adaptive flash SSD technology in other systems - by virtue of the SSDs it designed in from SMART.)

Going back to scary Skyera - "On the other hand" - I said to Woody - "Skyera doesn't have the same HA or software in place yet. But not everyone needs all these features."

Overall - for competitors in the same high performance and reliability class as this new IBM box (which includes companies like Violin, Fusion-io etc) - IBM can still be beaten on price. It was ever thus.

Footnotes - IBM's first memory channel SSD servers

In another IBM SSD announcement today (alluded to above) about its new server architecture which leverages memory channel SSDs - and making a comparison with PCIe SSDs - IBM said - "Our evaluators are seeing 5-10 microseconds write latency for eXFlash DIMMs in preliminary testing vs. 15-19 microseconds latency for PCIe-based flash storage from Fusion-io, Micron, and Virident, and 65 microseconds latency for Intel S3500 and S3700 SSDs."

We've seen increasing granularity of detail emerge about the system characteristics of memory channel SSDs emerging in a trickle of announcements, and experimental user reports in the past year. Now that the new flash DIMM SSD products are becoming generally available - there will soon be better clarity on real world costs and performance.

WhipTail is now part of Cisco

Editor:- October 29, 2013 - Cisco today announced it has completed the acquisition of WhipTail. WhipTail's solid state memory systems will be integrated as efficient performance accelerators into the computing fabric of Cisco's UCS

Permabit has shrunk data storage market by $300 million already

Editor:- September 30, 2013 - Permabit today announced that its flash and hard disk customers have shipped more than 1,000 arrays running its Albireo (dedupe, compression and efficient 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.

See also:- SSD efficiency, new RAID in SSDs, SSD software

EMC's acquisition of ScaleIO hints at an SSD server afterlife for legacy SANs

Editor:- July 16, 2013 - EMC recently announced it has agreed to acquire another storage software company - called ScaleIO.

EMC indicated that ScaleIO's software - which emulates the capabilities of virtual SAN style storage within the physical implementation of pools of server attached DAS - makes it easier for users to manage expanding data volumes and reduces the need for performance planning. The new software will be applied to extend the application functionality of EMC's PCIe SSD product lines and XtremIO rack based flash systems.

Editor's comments:- One way to view this is it will give EMC similar capabilities to Nutanix. Or another is that the EMC/ScaleIO solution (if and when it's done) can be seen as a shot back across the bows aimed at Fusion-io's ION software. (You came into our market space - so we're coming into yours.)

Take a step back however, and it doesn't have to be so personal.

Most legacy systems have shapes and architectures which date back to a command and control SAN style architecture dating back to the 1990s.

If you were trying to solve the same data processing and content management functions from a clean sheet start today - you'd probably go for a more "democratic" Google style architecture - in which most racks in the datacenter are similar - and their function is defined and can be changed by software - rather than being hardwired by the description of the box at the time it was invoiced.

It's long been known that SSD acceleration lets you speed up legacy architectures - but SSD performance also gives you the freedom to emulate entire applications environments on cheaper, and more efficient, modern hardware.

FIO's ION software in HP boxes enables Breakthrough Shared Storage Performance

Editor:- June 13, 2013 - The performance of Fusion-io's ION Data Accelerator software - which you can add to its PCIe SSD cards, any standard server and some FC adapters to roll your own SAN rackmount SSD - is the point of a new blog by the company today which celebrates recent benchmarks for 2, 4 and 8 processor HP server configuartions (pdf).

QLogic launches FabricCache PCIe SSD

Editor:- March 22, 2013 - QLogic yesterday entered the enterprise SSD market (in the PCI SSD and SSD ASAPs segments) with the launch its first product - the FabricCache 10000 Series adapter (pdf) - which provides transparent sharable and clusterable caching for FC SANs.

The 2 card set (upto 400GB flash, and 2x 8Gbps FC ports) can deliver upto 310,000 initiator IOPS and supports upto 2,048 concurrent logins.

future SSD capacity ratios in the server, SAN and archive?

Editor:- September 14, 2012 - Have you ever wondered... how much SSD storage should sit inside servers compared to being located on the SAN?

Obviously the exact ratio depends on the diverse spread of your data processing activities and the type of business you're engaged in.

At the extreme boundary cases the answer will be different if you're Google (say) compared to if you're an international bank.

For most enterprises the ratio will be something in between.

But if you're looking for an ideal magic number - I think an interesting debating point is to look at what people already do in HPC (high performance computing) apps.

In these situations users have already tried to optimize performance and the inevitable constraint of cost - but the starting premise is to place weight on performance.

The storage ratios which emerged from a recently published HPC survey by Intersect360 Research were
  • 36% of storage in compute servers
  • 63% of storage at the site level (NAS or SAN)
Now I have to remind you that those numbers were for storage and not for SSDs. But in not too many years from now when all enterprise storage will be solid state - the SSDs will still follow application and performance heirarchies too - and I think the split shown in that report is a reasonable analog to describe enterprise SSDs in the silos from the ultrafast through to the fast-enough.

But what about bulk archive storage?

That will be SSD too - it almost goes without saying - but if you try to estimate how much SSD storage will be bulk archive (performing similar roles to old style tape libraries and VTLs) compared to active SSD storage - during the next decade - some curious factors creep in.

Today - in legacy storage systems - archive backups and storage are high multiples (in capacity terms) of active working / online storage. You need copies of stuff for legal and compliance reasons, for backup, disaster recovery etc. And in the next 5 years or so that may continue to be the case - because it takes a long time for enterprise architectures to change.

But as we move towards the pure SSD driven economy - most enterprises will be creating new data faster than they ever did before (1 month of new date could be more than the whole year before) and at the same time the inefficiency of architectures like RAID will be replaced by the new efficiencies of large controller architectures - like XtremIO and Skyera. I'm tempted to say cloud -like - but that would be inaccurate - because in raw implementation - there are both very efficient and some inefficient clouds too.

I'm tempted to think that the combined result of these 2 factors coming together will be to shrink down the ratio of raw online to bulk archive storage to one - in best of breed enterprises - (or maybe even less than one - because of dedupe, compression etc).

Are there any useful consequences of any of these insights?

It can be usefule for sizing markets. One example came up on the same day I was writing this article - related to the possible cannibalization of 2.5" PCIe SSDs (including 2.5" SCSIe SSDs) relative to SAS. But there are many others too.

CWCDS offers 5TB version of SANbric SSD JBOD

Editor:- June 19, 2012 - today Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions announced a new version of its FC compatible SSDs the SANbric which supports just under 5TB and weighs about 5 lbs and is designed for deployment in high speed rugged data streaming apps such as on-board wide body aircraft, and helicopter platforms.

highest density FC SAN SLC SSD racks with no SPOF

Editor:- December 6, 2011 - Texas Memory Systems today announced imminent availability of the RamSan-720 - a 4 port (FC/IB) 1U rackmount SSD which provides 10TB of usable 2D (FPGA implemented) RAID protected and hot swappable - SLC capacity with 100/25 microseconds R/W latency (with all protections in place) delivering 400K IOPS (4KB), 5GB/s throughput - with no single point of failure (at $20K/TB approx list).

The new SSD uses a regular RAM cache flash architecture which in the event of sudden power loss has an ultra reliable battery array which holds up the SSD power for 30 seconds while automatically backing up all data in flight and translation tables to nonvolatile flash storage. On power up - the SSD is ready for full speed operation in less than a minute.

Aimed at HA tier 1 storage markets - the RamSan-720 consumes only 300-400 W - which makes it practical for high end users to install nearly 1/2 petabyte of SSD storage in a single cabinet - without having to worry about the secondary reliability and data integrity risks which can arise from high temperature build-ups in such enclosures.

The high density and low power consumption of this SSD made it feasible to stuff over 400TB of usable SSD capacity into a single cabinet without fear of over heating.

finally SAN-bound - Fusion-io inside Kaminario's K2

Editor:- September 13, 2011 - Kaminario announced it has integrated Fusion-io's PCIe SSDs as a new option in its K2 FC SAN compatible SSD product line (which was until now RAM SSD only) to provide flash and hybrid storage options.

Using the new options the K2 can provide from 3 to 30TB of non-stop, protected and self healing, blade server based flash storage in 4U to 12U of rack space with R/W latency of 260 / 150 microseconds at a list price of $30K / TB. to read comments and analysis

SAN Shared File Systems with SSDs

Editor:- July 11, 2011 - SAN Shared File Systems with SSDs is the subject of a new blog from Texas Memory Systems.

Author Jamon Bowen says in the article - "There is a new option that I have seen getting deployed more and more often: using high capacity SSDs and a SAN shared file system. A SAN shared filesystem provides the locking to allow multiple servers to directly access the block storage concurrently."

Editor's comments:- The "new option" above is narrative license - because I know that TMS has been doing this for years - but this type of configuration is more common now - because of declining SSD costs. I like this article for its conceptual purity (sticks to the theme and doesn't waffle on about SANs or SSDs) - and it has a nice picture too. the article

A new way of looking at the Enterprise SSD market

Editor:- October 4, 2010 - recently published a new article - Legacy versus New Dynasty - A new way of looking at the Enterprise SSD market

It proposes a new classification method for "enterprise SSDs" which will help you get through the jungle of new SSD web content - and see all new products in a new light.
Storage History.................................................................
"Storage standards are weak standards that are driven by component considerations. Network standards are strong standards that are driven by system considerations."
A Storage Architecture Guide
"That whole dominant storage architecture thing has totally flipped. It was already slowly turning 180 degrees a couple years ago, but it is beginning to be much more obvious now. SAN is on the decline..."
Chin-Fah Heoh, StorageGaga - in his reminiscent blog - the reverse wars – DAS vs NAS vs SAN (March 13, 2014)
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HA enterprise SSD arrays
high availabaility SSD arrays Due to the growing number of oems in the high availability rackmount SSD market recently published a new directory focusing on HA enterprise SSD arrays.

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"...the SSD market will be bigger in revenue than the hard drive market ever was."
How will hard drives fare in an SSD world?

after AFAs? - the next box
Throughout the history of the data storage market we've always expected the capacity of enterprise user memory systems to be much smaller than the capacity of all the other attached storage in the same data processing environment.

after AFAs - click to read rhe articleA new blog on - cloud adapted memory systems - asks (among other things) if this will always be true.

Like many of you - I've been thinking a lot about the evolution of memory technologies and data architectures in the past year. I wasn't sure when would be the best time to share my thoughts about this one. But the timing seems right now. the article

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