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Suggestions for how to navigate over 20 years of my SAN related content more easily.

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
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.
other topics on

1 inch SSDs
1.8 inch SSDs
2.5 inch SSDs
3.5 inch SSDs
AoE (ATA-over-Ethernet) articles
architecture - SAN, NAS, DAS
backup software - articles
bookmarks SSD - suggested by leaders
brands in the SSD market
cables for FC, SATA, SCSI
chips for storage interface
cloud storage
controllers for SSDs
data recovery companies
deduplication FAQs
disk duplicators - vendors and articles
disk to disk backup
editor's blog
endurance in flash SSDs
enterprise SSDs - new perspectives
events and conferences
expressCard SSDs
fastest SSDs
fibre-channel SSDs
flash memory
flash SSDs
flood damaged drives - recovery tips
glossary of storage
hard drives - articles
heresies - and disagreements about SSDs
history of SSDs
history of the storage market
integrity in flash SSDs
jargon (SSDs)
jukeboxes - optical
marketing views
market research
military storage
notebook SSDs
ORGs - industry standards bodies
parallel SCSI SSDs
people who shaped the storage market
petabyte SSD milestones & roadmap
price factors SSDs
rackmount SSDs
RAID systems
record breaking storage
reliability articles and news
routers in the storage market
sanitizers - disks, tape
SAS articles and market
security in storage
SPARC server history
SSD market analysts
SSD news
tape libraries
top SSD companies
venture capital
VTLs (virtual tape library) news

SAN (Storage Area Networks)

this way to the Petabyte SSD
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
see SAN image in Megabyte cartoon
... Inspired by the movie City Slickers
Megabyte was experimenting with
a traditional data round-up technique.
SAN news
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?

Pure Storage's funding coffers fattened up to nearly $0.5 billion

Editor:- April 23, 2014 - Pure Storage today announced it had raised another $225 million in funding - bringing the total in all rounds to $470 million.

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.

NetApp has shipped 59PB of SSDs in past 3 years

Editor:- November 19, 2013 - Among other things - Network Appliance today disclosed it has has shipped over 59 petabytes of flash storage in the past 3 years.

Editor's comments:- What NetApp actually said was "over 60PB to date".

My calculation goes like this...

The company shipped 1PB in its first year in the SSD market - which ended in the 3rd quarter of 2010.

So it's shipped approximately 60PB in 3 years. Probably more than 1/2 of that will have been in the past year.

How does that compare with others?

It doesn't sound like a lot in the context of today's market.

According to a (quirkily pro-HDD) blog by Toshiba - the analyst data which they have aggregated projects that 8,000 PB of enterprise flash SSDs will ship in 2014.

I think the likely figure (PB of enterprise flash installed in systems) will be much higher than even that - because Toshiba's data probably doesn't take adequately into account the ability of some systems vendors to ship enterprise grade SSD racks using consumer grade flash chips (rather than using enterprise SSD drives) due to technologies like adaptive R/W - and the increasing appetite for enterprise SSDs. See also:- petabyte SSD shipment milestones.

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

another $150 million for Pure Storage

"the fastest growing storage company in history"

Editor:- August 29, 2013 - Pure Storage today -announced that it has closed an oversubscribed $150 million Series E funding round with institutional investors which brings the company's total capital raise to $245 million. The company has shipped hundreds of units of its FlashArrays (fast-enough rackmount SSDs) to a diverse global customer base and claims it's one of the fastest growing storage companies in the industry's history.

Editor's comments:- in 2001 I started an annual series which listed the fastest growing storage companies - based on revenue growth. I ended the series in 2007/8 when the credit crunch kicked in. But you can still see many of the archived articles.

In the last year of the series there were 3 storage companies which reported over 300% year on year revenue growth. Today Pure Storage is hinting that its year on year revenue growth is north of 400%.

See also:- VCs and SSDs

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).

IBM aims to be multi-billion dollar flash systems supplier

Editor:- April 12, 2013 - 3 years ago I wrote a blog about the confusing nature of the "RamSan" brand of SSDs from Texas Memory Systems given that all the recent models in the family were in fact flash memory rather than RAM based - and furthermore some of the models didn't connect via an FC SAN but used PCIe instead.

So it wasn't a surprise to see in yesterday's announcement by IBM (who acquired TMS last year) that the RamSan designation has been dropped in favor of the more accurate sounding "FlashSystem" in those models which migrated intact to IBM's enterprise flash product line.

So - for example in the category of high availability rackmount SSDs - the old RamSan-720 (SLC) and RamSan-820 (MLC) have become the new IBM FlashSystem 720 and 820. If you're not familiar with these fast HA SSDs - the thinking behind their design came out in an interview I has with Holly Frost, CEO of TMS when they were launched in December 2011.

Unless I missed them - then it doesn't look to me as though TMS's PCIe SSD models have been so fortunate. I couldn't see them in IBM's range of PCIe SSDs (High IOPS Modular Adapters) which are based on products and technologies from Fusion-io and LSI. That no-show may be due to the fact that - unlike TMS's rackmount systems which were software agnostic - a lot more work is required to efficiently integrate server based SSDs into a wide range of server products. But I anticipate that TMS's big architecture SSD controller technology will resurface in future IBM SSD cards.

Much more significant was the news that IBM is investing $1 billion in research and development to design, create and integrate new flash solutions into its portfolio of servers, storage systems and middleware. IBM also announced plans to open 12 centers of flash competency around the globe. That demonstrates confidence in the future scale of the SSD market and a clear sense of perspective about SSD's place in computer history.

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.

Imation acquires Nexsan

Editor:- January 2, 2013 - Imation today announced it has acquired Nexsan (which among other things is in the rackmount hybrid SSD ASAPs market) for $120 million.

making history at the US Presidential Debate

Editor:- October 22, 2012 - supporting the US Presidential Debate taking place today at Lynn University is a high availability hybrid storage array from Tegile Systems.

"Having won the university's request for proposal process earlier this year we are diligently working to assemble the technology that will bring the debate to millions of people and households," said Rob Commins, VP of marketing, Tegile Systems. "We are honored to be a part of American history in this important way."

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.

Fusion-io does a few new things

Editor:- August 2, 2012 - the performance and strategic importance of SSD software was reinforced in 2 recent announcements by Fusion-io.

Yesterday - FIO launched its new ION software - which is a toolkit for bulding your own network compatible SSD rack by adding some Fusion-io SSD cards and their new software to any leading server.

The concept isn't entirely new - because oems have been doing this with various different brands of PCIe SSDs for years and this is a well established alternative market segment for PCIe SSDs. What is new - is that it makes the whole thing much easier.

Fusion-io says this new software product "delivers breakthrough performance over Fibre Channel, InfiniBand and iSCSI using standard protocols." (1 million random IOPs (4kB), 6GB/s throughput and 60 microseconds latency in a 1U rack.)

Earlier this week FIO announced it was collaborating on getting interoperability in server-side flash and caching software with NetApp. It's easier now to write a list of major storage systems oems who aren't doing something significant with FIO.

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.

waiting for the true arrival of the PCIe FT SAN?

Editor:- February 9, 2012 - What's a storage network?

I thought I knew the answer to that question. Probably you do too. But the topology possibilities enabled by a new generation of PCIe chips will change the way that servers and solid state storage can interact - and open up a new fast lane for data. These concepts are explored in a new article in Who's who in SSD? - PLX.

And why do you need to know about PCIe chips? Remember there was a time when no one cared very much about SSD controllers too. to read the article

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

SANRAD launches front loadable PCIe SSD accelerators

Editor:- August 31, 2011 - SANRAD today introduced front loadable PCIe flash SSD accelerators as options in its V-Switch storage appliances enabling upto 4TB of flash, together with 2x10GE networking and 2x8Gb FC, all in a single 1U rackmount appliance (or 10TB in 2U).

The unique front-panel installation allows for quick, easy maintenance and upgradeability in the data center. It enables a "pay as you grow" approach, allowing customers to add or replace PCIe flash modules without opening the appliance, similar to the way HDDs are added to a server.

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

Oracle acquires Pillar

Editor:- June 29, 2011 - Oracle today announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Pillar Data Systems - which was already majority owned by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.

Editor's comments:- I guess I'd say - So what? This simply ends a fiction which no one seriously believed in. Pillar was hampered by its ownership which meant that it could be yanked in any direction at a moment's notice. Pulling the storage skunkworks inside the Oracle corporate fold will work better for customers and as a business - even if it may upset some internal stakeholders.

EMC will enter PCIe SSD market

Editor:- May 9, 2011 - EMC today announced new strategies related to the SSD market.

Among other things EMC said it has created a flash business unit and will enter the PCIe SSD market later this year. The company indicated that its run rate of shipping flash storage array capacity in 2011 is approximately 3x the level it had achieved in 2010.

Dataram doubles memory in XcelaSAN

Editor:- April 6, 2011 - Dataram has doubled the RAM cache available in its XcelaSAN (2U rackmount fibre-channel SAN SSD accelerator) to 256GB (the system price is approx $75,000).

XcelaSAN delivers up to 30x transparent R/W acceleration to attached disk storage arrays with a high-availability architecture (internal performance is upto 450,000 IOPS). Unlike vanilla SSD accelerators, XcelaSAN dynamically caches high I/O activity application data when it is needed, to support multiple applications many times larger than the cache itself.

"With the new capacity upgrade, the XcelaSAN storage optimization appliance allows customers to dramatically accelerate more applications with a cost-effective, easy to install storage appliance," said Jason Caulkins, Chief Technologist, Dataram. "The added cache capacity allows customers to add cache tiering to a wider range of applications in addition to their mission critical applications, resulting in improved performance across their entire business."

Editor's comments:- when Dataram launched the XcelaSAN in September 2009 - they published precious little performance data and they didn't offer a simple high availability option. Now with benefit of customer experience and a reworking of the design Dataram has a lot more info which describes the product including a useful (and overdue) FAQs page. Another factor which has changed in the meantime is that more than 20 other manufacturers now offer ASAPs (Auto-tuning SSD Accelerated Pools of storage) with their own flavors of interface, form factor etc making this a confusing market for potential buyers.

The simple pitch for the Dataram ASAP is:- it works with your existing FC SAN storage arrays and installs in about an hour. Because it does the hot spot tuning automatically it suits medium sized enterprises who may only need to buy a single system. These users are not so attractive to high end SSD oems who for business reasons prefer focusing their technical and sales talent on customers with high multiple repeat business potential.

One amusing thing for me in seeing today's news about doubling the memory in the XcelaSAN is that Dataram has for decades been the first memory maker to offer increased memory capacity for leading servers. Now the company is doing the same thing to itself.

NetApp acquires Engenio

Editor:- March 9, 2011 - Network Appliance announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase the Engenio external storage systems business of LSI for $480 million.

The close is anticipated to occur in approximately 60 days subject to customary closing conditions.

Engenio will enable NetApp to address emerging and fast-growing market segments such as video, including full-motion video capture and digital video surveillance, as well as high performance computing applications, such as genomics sequencing and scientific research. NetApp has the channel reach and customer relationships today that require high performance and big bandwidth capabilities that will be well served by Engenio's storage platform. NetApp says these segments are expected to collectively represent a $5 billion incremental market opportunity by 2014.

Editor's comments:- LSI has been trying to sell off Engenio since 2004. NetApp will love them more. For a brief time this past week - searches for Engenio exceeded that for "SSD". In the previous decade over 500 leading storage companies were acquired, changed name or went bust.

Xiotech enters FC ASAP market

Editor:- January 31, 2011 - Xiotech is the latest company to join the crowding SSD ASAP market with the launch of its Hybrid ISE - a 3U FC rack with 14TB of capacity and 60,000 IOPS performance which internally uses a mixture of 2.5" SSDs and HDDs.

Similarly to many other ASAP vendors - Xiotech claims its systems has "fully automated set-and-forget simplicity". The company says that using ROI calculations from weighted I/O counts, automated tiering begins within 1 minute of I/O and continues to manage the performance requirements of applications in real-time.

Editor's comments:- in its Jan 2011 blog - Xiotech disclosed that a customer survey it had done about SSD usage revealed "only 9% in-use or currently evaluating the use of SSD. Another 8% responded that SSDs were in 2011 plans. Of those who've adopted/currently testing SSDs, over half were using SSDs as part of a storage array. Less that 25% were deploying memory cards added to servers."

Those figures indicate the huge upside which still remains for the SSD market.

Inside Texas Memory Systems' 8GB/s FC SSD

Editor:- January 26, 2011 -Texas Memory Systems today announced the availability of 8Gbps fibre-channel interfaces for its RamSan-630 - fast 10TB 3U rackmount SLC SSDs.

Each unit can be configured with upto 10 independent 8Gb FC ports for a total data transfer rate of 8 GBytes / sec. Ports can be mixed - with the previously available (and 25% faster) InfiniBand.

Editor's comments:- I interviewed Jamon Bowen, Director of Sales Engineering for TMS - and learned a lot about the internal design and architecture of this SSD which the company hasn't revealed before. Click here to read - key performance enablers inside the RamSan-630.

the future of enterprise data storage

Editor:- January 23, 2011 - the future of data storage is the lofty sounding but aptly chosen title of a new article published online today in Broadcast Engineering - written by Zsolt Kerekes editor of (that's me).

It's a completely new article which synthesizes and integrates concepts from several futuristic articles which have already appeared here on the mouse site and wraps them into a cohesive whole. Anyone who reads it will get a clear idea of where the incremental changes they read about in storage news pages (like this one) are likely to end up. 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.................................................................
"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?

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