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McObject expands reach of in memory database for serious embedded apps developers

Editor:- October 28, 2014 - First 2, then 3 and finally - 4 interesting things caught my eye in news about version 6.0 of eXtremeDB - an in-memory database system from McObject
  • Data compression. This release adds data compression for both in-memory and on-disk databases. Once upon a time compression was a value add feature in some products - but now in the SSD age when compression is almost latency free - it has become a must-have on the feature list - especially for embedded systems.
  • Avionics platform support. This upgrade adds compatibility with Wind River Systems’ VxWorks 653 COTS platform for delivering safety-critical, integrated modular avionics applications.
  • More flexible transaction scheduling. Applications using eXtremeDB’s multiple-user, single-writer transaction manager can override the default FIFO scheduling policy within priority levels to favor either read-only or read-write transactions.
  • Distributed query processing support. eXtremeDB partitions a database and distributes query processing across multiple servers, CPUs and/or CPU cores - which can accelerate performance.
"“Demand for distributed query processing cuts across market segments, but is especially relevant to the automation and control field, where eXtremeDB is historically strong” said McObject CEO and co-founder Steve Graves.

See also:- industrial SSDs, military SSDs, hybrid DIMMs


Efficiency is important for web scale users - says Coho

Editor:- October 9, 2014 - Facebook as a file system - a web scale case study - a new blog by Andy Warfield , cofounder and CTO - Coho Data - made very interesting reading for me - as much for revealing the authoritative approach taken in Andy's systematic analysis - as for the object of his discussion (Facebook's storage architecture).

It reveals useful insights into the architectural thinking and value judgments of Coho's technology - and is not simply another retelling of the Facebook infrastructure story.

When you read it you may get different things out of it - because it's rich in raw enterprise ideas related to architecture, software, and dark matter users. All of which makes it hard to pick out any single quote. But here are 2.
  • re - the miss match between enterprise products and user needs

    Andy Warfield says - "In the past, enterprise hardware has had a pretty hands-off relationship with the vendor that sells it and the development team that builds it once it's been sold. The result is that systems evolve slowly, and must be built for the general case, with little understanding of the actual workloads that run on them."
  • re efficiency and utilization

    Andy Warfield says - "Efficiency is important. As a rough approximation, a server in your datacenter costs as much to power and cool over 3 years as it does to buy up front. It is important to get every ounce of utility that you can out of it while it is in production."
There are many more I could have chosen. ... read the article


We need new software abstractions to efficiently handle persistent enterprise memory - says SanDisk

Editor:- October 3, 2014 - New enterprise software abstractions are needed in order to efficiently utilize all those unruly developments in flash, tiered flash-DRAM architecture and NVDIMMs.

And laying the educational framework for those ideas - along with some practical suggestions for where applicable solutions might be coming from - is the theme of a recent blog - the Emergence of Software-Defined Memory - written by Nisha Talagala, Fellow at SanDisk & Fusion-io - who (among other things) says:-

"We're seeing excitement build for a new class of memory:- persistent memory - which has the persistence capabilities of storage and access performance similar to memory.

"Given this richness of media technologies, we now have the ability to create systems and data center solutions which combine a variety of memory types to accelerate applications, reduce power, improve server consolidation, and more.

"We believe these trends will drive a new set of software abstractions for these systems which will emerge as software-defined memory – a software driven approach to optimizing memory of all types in the data center." ...read the article

See also:- are you ready to rethink enterprise DRAM architecture?


Microsoft's SSD-aware VMs - discussed on InfoQ

Editor:- September 24, 2014 - There are now so many enterprise SSD software companies that keeping track of them all is a little like tallying 2.5" SSD makers - a tedious chore -which in most cases isn't worth the bother.

Nevertheless - SSD-centric software is strategically important - and some vendors are more important than others - despite having been latecomers in the enterprise flash wars .

One such company is Microsoft.

A news story today - Microsoft Azure Joins SSD Storage Bandwagon on InfoQ - discusses Microsoft's D-Series SSD-aware VMs - and places this in the context of other products from well known sources.

The blog's author - Janakiram MSV says "One important aspect of SSD based VMs on Azure is that they are not persistent. Data stored on these volumes cannot survive the crash or termination of virtual machines. This is different from both Amazon EC2 and Google Compute Engine, which offer persistent SSDs. On Azure, customers have to ensure that the data stored on the SSD disks is constantly backed up to Azure blob storage or other VMs." ...read the article


HGST announces 2nd generation clustering software for FlashMAX PCIe SSDs

Editor:- September 9, 2014 - HGST today announced a new improved version of the high availability clustering capability previously available in the PCIe SSD product line acquired last year from Virident.

HGST's Virident Space allows clustering of up to 128 servers and 16 PCIe storage devices to deliver one or more shared volumes of high performance flash storage with a total usable capacity of more than 38TB.

HGST says its Virident HA provides a "high-throughput, low-latency synchronous replication across servers for data residing on FlashMAX PCIe devices. If the primary server fails, the secondary server can automatically start a standby copy of your application using the secondary replica of the data."

For more details see - HGST Virident Software 2.0 (pdf)

Editor's comments:- This capability had already been demonstrated last year - and ESG reported on the technology in January 2014.

But at that time - the clustering product called vShare - was restricted to a small number of servers - and the data access fabric was restricted to Infiniband only.

With the rev 2.0 software - the number of connected devices has increased - and users also have the lower cost option of using Ethernet as an alternative supported fabric.


Maxta invests in Intel

Editor:- August 19, 2014 - In May 2014 we learned that Intel had invested in Maxta. And this week we learned that Maxta has reciprocated that favor by investing in Intel.

More strategically than with mere money - Maxta's investment - announced yesterday - is in the form of a reference architecture - cored on Maxta's MxSP software (SSD ASAP software) which provides an easy to support set of solutions preconfigured for Intel servers and Intel SSDs.

Maxta says its MaxDeploy Reference Architecture offers the framework of a repeatable and standard deployment model - which provides its customers "ease of ordering and predictability" - and which mitigates the risk of hardware or software compatibility issues, while simplifying and shortening deployment time and training.

The new solution set will be demonstrated next week at VMworld, San Francisco.


an update on Atlantis (Software-Defined Storage)

Editor:- July 14, 2014 - Atlantis Computing today announced 2 things:-
  • On a year-over-year basis Atlantis grew 1H bookings 80%
Commenting on the state of the company he founded in 2006 and which has already sold over 580,000 licenses - CTO, Chetan Venkatesh said - "Atlantis was started with a vision of a future where intelligent and agile Software solved the most important, complex and challenging problems of storage hardware. In our view, storage is not a hardware problem, but that hardware is the problem and to solve that you need intelligent software that disrupts the current paradigm of expensive and proprietary SAN & NAS."


SanDisk extends the reach of its SSD software platform

Editor:- July 8, 2014 - 2 weeks ago SanDisk announced a new enterprise software product - ZetaScale - designed to support large inmemory intensice applications.

I delayed writing about it at the time - until I learned more. But now I think it could be one of the most significant SSD software products launched in 2014 - because of the freedom it will give big memory customers (in the next 2-3 years) about how they navigate their tactical choices of populating their apps servers with low latency flash SSD hardware.

what is ZetaScale?

SanDisk says - "ZetaScale software's highly parallelized code supports high throughput for flash I/O, even for small objects, and optimizes the use of CPU cores, DRAM, and flash to maximize application throughput. Applications that have been flash-optimized through the use of ZetaScale can achieve performance levels close to in-memory DRAM performance."

ZetaScale is SSD agnostic. "ZetaScale is compatible with any brand of PCIe, SAS, SATA, DIMM or NVMe connected flash storage device, providing customers the ability to choose, avoiding hardware vendor lock-in."

I was curious to see how this new product - which is a toolkit for deploying flash with tiering to DRAM as a new memory type - fitted in with other products - from SanDisk and from other vendors which also operate in this "flash as a big memoryalternative to DRAM" application space .

So I asked SanDisk some questions - and got some interesting answers.
  • Where does the ZetaScale product come from?

    SanDisk - ZetaScale builds upon our Schooner acquisition technology for additional use cases and flash deployment models.

    ZetaScale allows any developer to better tune their applications for flash-based environments, no matter which vendors hardware or interface is being leveraged. Thus, ZetaScale represents a major step forward in our vision of the flash-transformed data center—empowering software developers to scale and enhance their applications to meet today's big data and real-time analytics demands, while lowering TCO.
  • How much commonality is there between ZetaScale and FlashSoft product offerings?

    ZetaScale and FlashSoft software are complementary and orthogonal.


    FlashSoft provides direct-attached flash-based caching for NAS and SAN devices, with the goal of improving performance for unmodified applications running on a server.

    ZetaScale software provides a flash and multi-core optimization library that applications can integrate to allow them to achieve 3x times the performance improvement from flash alone.

    Both ZetaScale and FlashSoft software provide their benefits in bare metal and virtualized environments
  • Does ZetaScale support ULLtraDIMM?

    Yes. The software is compatible with any brand of PCIe, SAS, SATA, DIMM or NVMe connected flash device, enabling users to avoid vendor lock-in. However, the software does not get embedded into any SSD.
  • How would ZetaScale fit into a future SanDisk product line which also includes Fusion-io?

    SanDisk cannot comment on open M&A activity. As usual, all planning surrounding the product portfolio and roadmap will begin following the close of the acquisition.
Editor's comments:- overall I'd have to rate SanDisk's - ZetaScale as one of the most significant SSD software products launched in 2014.

From a technical point of view - it's a toolkit which will enable architects of SSD apps servers with very large in memory databases to decouple themselves fromdeep dives into specific low latency SSD products. Instead of gambling on whether they should exploit particular features which come with particular low latency SSDs - they can instead use ZetaScale as the lowest level of flash which their apps talk to. And that will change markets.

And although SanDisk didn't want to comment on how this would be positioned against Fusion-io's VSL - it's undeniable that in some applications it does compete today.

Although I wouldn't be surprised to see - a year after the acquisition (if it goes ahead) ZetaScale could be useful as a way of introducing new customers to the ioMemory hardware environment - without those customers having to make a hard commitment to the rest of Fusion-io's software.

And - looking at the memory channel SSD market - it also means that SanDisk software might be a safer standard for future customers of any DDR4 or HMC SSDs which might emerge from competitor Micron which - unlike SanDisk - hasn't demonstrated yet any strong ambitions in the SSD software platform market.


What do you get when you add Fusion-io's software to SanDisk?

Editor:- June 17, 2014 - I discussed some of the possibilities in my blog yesterday in SSD news - following the announcement that SanDisk has agreed to acquire Fusion-io.


re SSD caching companies, tv channels and CacheIO

Editor:- June 10, 2014 - In an SSD news story today about CacheIO - I said one of the reasons for not having listed them here on the mouse site last year when they first approached me was this... "With SSD caching companies becoming almost as numerous as tv channels on a satellite dish - I wanted to wait and see if they would be worth a repeat viewing." (They are.)


Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise

Editor:- May 28, 2014 - StorageSearch.com today published a new article - Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise for rackmount SSDs

Some of the world's leading SSD marketers have confided in me they know from their own customer anecdotes that there are many segments for enterprise flash arrays which aren't listed or even hinted at in standard models of the enterprise market.

Many of these missing market segments don't even have names.

The glut of new flavors in SSD software - mostly boldly promising new architectures but sometimes with a better plea bargain for legacy - is one of the biggest segment multiplying factors. ...read the article


OCZ betas the next incremental release of its SQL accelerator software

Editor:- April 10, 2014 - OCZ today announced it's inviting enterprise SSD users to participate in a 1.5 Beta Program for the next release of its ZD-XL SQL Accelerator software.

OCZ says - ZD-XL 1.5 enables DBAs to unleash the full power of SQL Server 2014 features, such as flash Buffer Pool Extension (BPE) support, that enables database pages to be accessed faster by loading them directly from flash.


Fusion-io demonstrates life and capacity amplification effects of combining 2 software ingredients

Editor:- April 2, 2014 - In a benchmark demonstration this week Fusion-io showed the combined advantages of using NVM compression in conjunction with its Atomic Writes APIs in SkySQL environments. The results indicate that:-
  • 2x as much data can be stored on the same flash media - while giving similar performance and latency to the uncompressed case with legacy software, and
  • using compression and the new APIs - reduces write traffic and improves endurance limited operating life by a factor of 4x
Editor's comments:- compression has been used as a secret invisible endurance helper inside enterprise flash SSD systems (and as a way to speed up performance and housekeeping functions such as garbage collection) starting in 2007 with MFT flash management software from EasyCo.

From 2009 onwards - invisible compression speedup and reliability boosting became widely adopted in the industry - as they were both intrinsic parts of every SSD controller shipped by SandForce.

WhipTail was the first enterprise SSD array vendor I knew of to offer inline time compression as an explicit feature which users could turn on or off - to increase usable virtual capacit. That was in February 2009 - and James Candelaria (who at that time was WhipTail's CTO) mentioned this as an attribute in his SSD bookmarks for StorageSearch.com readers in September 2010.

However, in a later conversation (January 2012) with Cameron Pforr (who at that time was WhipTail's President and CFO) - Cameron told me they were no longer emphasizing compression because it led to latencies which were too long to be competitive - and instead they were focusing on performance.

Since those days many leading SSD array makers have used compression to offer tactical advantages in their products - particularly in cost sensitive markets like iSCSI. And compression and more efficient software are just some of many ingredients I identified in last year's article better thinking inside the SSD box.

To sum up - Fusion-io's demonstration this week simply confirms what anyone who knows their product line well would have already expected.

See also:- SSD compression - editor mentions on StorageSearch.com


VMware enters the SSD market

March 6, 2014 - With the launch of its Virtual SAN - VMware has at last joined the crowding SSD software ecosystem as a lead SSD player rather than (as before) in a subordinate role (as the legacy software dancing partner - a bit like dancing with your uncle or aunt at the wedding disco) which was the case before in hundreds of acceleration compatibility stories narrated by other SSD companies.

VSAN version 1.0 is an SSD ASAP (hybrid virtualizing appliance) - which supports 3-8 server nodes. The company says that "support for more than 8 will come later." ...read the details.

Editor's comments:- first impressions? It's late and doesn't look great (in features). But it will probably be deemed adequate for many users starting down this road.

Before dismissing it entirely (as some commentators and competitors have already done) let's remember that when LSI entered the SSD market in January 2010 - it was the "163rd company to enter the SSD market". And look where they are now.

Being late to market doesn't count as a mortal sin in the SSD marketing lexicon right now because first mover advantage (pdf) assumptions aren't valid in this phase of the market's development.

more comments re VSAN

"Our customers who had the opportunity to participate in the VSAN beta told us that in most cases, (our) Maxta MxSP performs better" - said competitor Yoram Novick, founder Maxta in his blog - Software-Defined Storage – the Devil is in the Details

"I'm especially proud of how the team has outperformed expectations. Today we're announcing GA support for 32 nodes. That means that Virtual SAN can now scale from a modest 3 node remote office, to a multi-petabyte, mega-IOPS monster — just by adding more server resources... and ...VSAN isn't bolted on, it's built in." - says Ben Fathi, CTO VMware - in his blog - Virtual SAN: Powerfully Simple and Simply Powerful


another $13 million for Primary Data

Editor:- February 17, 2014 - A report in SiliconAngle.com - shared from the linkedin page of Primary Data's CMO - Rick White - says that Primary Data (which is still in stealth mode) has secured another $13 million funding - bringing its total funding up to $63 million.

Editor's comments:- there's a lot of speculation about what this new company is doing.

Primary Data's founders changed the enterprise server market with their previous startup Fusion-io (founded in 2006).

Before Fusion-io - server makers didn't want to talk about SSDs.

After Fusion-io - no server maker could launch a new enterprise server product line without including SSD acceleration as a standard option. (Because Fusion-io signed up most of the key server oems as "PCIe SSD inside" which made all server makers hostage to the fortunes of SSD).

When Primary Data launches its products later this year - what will its products look like?

From the hints dropped so far - it seems that Primary Data will aim to shake up the enterprise architecture world with a new platform which leverages SSD enhanced servers as the worker ants in a new software scheme which spans everything from the local cluster to the cloud.

See also:- VCs and SSDs, enterprise SSD silos, SSD software


Atlantis provides more evidence of the trend towards massively improved enterprise utilization enabled by SSD-aware software

Editor:- February 11, 2014 - Atlantis Computing today announced that the new "In-Memory Storage Technology" release of its storage virtualization software - called Atlantis ILIO USX - can significantly increase enterprise utilization by enabling users to deploy up to 5x more VMs on their existing storage.

See also:- ILIO USX faqs (pdf), enterprise utilization and the SSD event horizon, SSD ASAPs


old software will slow new silicon in memory done by SSDs

Editor:- February 5, 2014 - In a new blog - New Vistas For Persistent Memory - Tom Coughlin, President Coughlin Associates reminds us that in exteremely fast SSDs - lowering the hardware latency is just one part of the design solution.

Tom says - "An important element in using persistent memory in the PCIe and memory bus of computers is the creation of software programs that take advantage of the speed and low latency of nonvolatile memory. With the increase in performance that new interfaces allow, software built around slower storage technologies becomes a significant issue preventing getting the full performance from a persistent memory system."

Tom's article includes a graph which shows the increasing proportion of the read access time taken up by system software in successively faster hardware interface generations. ...read the article

Editor's comments:- living with the old while planning for a new type of SSD-aware computer architecture is complicated.

Just how complicated that picture can be... you may glimpse in a classic far reaching paper (about abstracting application transactional semantics in usefully different ways when viewed from their interactions with the flash translation layer) - called Optimizing I/O Operations via the Flash Translation Layer (pdf) by Gary Orenstein, Fusion-io (August 2011).


SNIA proposes new standard for virtualizing SSD implemented memory

Editor:- January 27, 2014 - It's years since the first thoroughbred SSD software horses were seen to be leaving the stables - but last week - a standards ORG - SNIA announced an effort to bolt these doors with the release of version 1 of what it hopes will be a new standard called the NVM Programming Model (pdf)

Editor's comments:- Currently if you use SSDs as memory using PCIe SSDs from Fusion-io or Virident, or if you plan to use memory channel SSDs from SanDisk - then you're potentially looking at working in 3 different software environments.

The viable permutations of hardware and software compatibility levels shrink for users when they converge at a popular market application level such as virtual desktops - but explode into crazy unsupportability for 3rd party software developers as they try to step back from proprietary APIs and hang onto more general hooks in operating systems which were never designed around the core class of capabilities offered by low latency SSDs.

Whether the long term solution to the current messy state of ad hoc SSD software lies in adapting current OS's - or maybe in bypassing old OS's entirely and starting again with cloud level service-like abstrations in virtualized servers - is interesting to speculate.

In the meantime software developers have to work with existing de-facto software environments (to generate revenue) and also keep an eye on future standards in the hope that standardization will reduce their costs (one day in the remote future).

The SSD software platform and the optimum level of engagement for vendors is a lottery which will suck billions more dollars from VCs before it is resolved. And I think that market dominance will be a bigger part of the solution than a set of committee based standards.


get ready for a world in which all enterprise data touches SSDs

Editor:- January 8, 2014 - StorageSearch.com today published a new article - get ready for a world in which all enterprise data touches SSDs.

"The winners in SSD software could be as important for infrastructure as Microsoft was for PCs, or Oracle was for databases, or Google was for online search." ...read the article


10,000 sites use DataCore

Editor:- December 16, 2013 - DataCore today announced that over 10,000 customer sites have used its software.

DataCore's stance re enterprise SSD architecture is that most users can (for the time being) resist the siren calls of SSD makers towards all flash enterprise storage - because "only 5% of workloads require top tier performance. And businesses have turned to auto-tiering software to make sure applications are sharing flash and spinning disk, based on the need to optimize performance and investment."


the big SSD idea changes in 2013?

Editor:- December 10, 2013 - I've tried to leave my year end review article of the SSD market as late as possible - because a lot of things happen in December too. But now on the home page of StorageSearch.com - you can see my new blog - the big SSD idea changes in 2013? As we approach another year of SSD disruption in 2014 - what were the big SSD idea changes in 2013? And where does software fit into the picture? ...click to read the article


Maxta joins the elite set of enterprise contenders who are vying to own the next generation SSD-centric platform

Editor:- November 13, 2013 - This week Maxta completed its staged emergence from stealth mode and launched its first product - the Maxta Storage Platform - a hypervisor-agnostic software platform for repurposing arrays of standard servers (populated with cheap standard SATA SSDs and hard drives) into scalable enterprise class apps servers in which the global CPU and storage assets become available as an easily managed meta resource with optimized performance, cost and resilience.

Editor's comments:- I spoke last week to Yoram Novick about this new product, his company and what customers have been doing with it.

Before you dip into my bullet points below - here's a header note of orientation.

We've all seen new companies launching SSD software and pitching for the enterprise with products which are little more than spruced up versions of "hello SSD world!"

Then a year later - some essential compatibility features get added, and later still some degree of better or worse high availability.

It didn't used to matter much if everything wasn't in place at the start - or if these new companies didn't have sustainable business plans - because there was an appetite for acquiring them.

From my perspective I'd say that many companies have regarded the launch of their SSD software is simply an invitation to attract users who could provide the market knowledge they needed to flesh out the feature set.

In these important respects Maxta is different because:- prior to this week's product launch they've already had a group of 10 or so advanced customers in different industries who have been using the product and also the enterprise features - like manage-ability, scalability, resilience and data integrity are already in the product today.

Maxta's technology and business architects have done enterprise storage software before - as you can see from their linkedin bios. Yoram told me that he and Amar Rao (Maxta's VP of Business Development ) used to compete with each other in earlier storage startups and the companies which had acquired them.

So it soon became clear to me in the details I saw and asked about (not all of which are listed here) that a lot of careful planning and up front thinking and problem solving has already guided the "launch".

Here's some of what I learned.
  • market scope

    MxSP is the software glue for enabling easily managed SSD enhanced storage pools in VM environments which scale from the ROBO upto cloud infrastructure.

    The base level configuration which provides HA features starts as low as 3 nodes. This is attractive for enterprises with remote offices because it's a small footprint. But it's also attractive from a running cost point of view too - Yoram said because of the special low price point for associated software.

    Maxta has a customer who started with these 3 node configurations for remote offices but liked them so much that their bigger arrays are now built mostly from arrays of 3 too.
  • the problem it solves

    The evolution of enterprise CPU and storage resources have followed different tracks in the past decade - leaving users in the position today where it's easy and economic to deploy more CPUs but relatively awkward, expensive or error prone to map these CPU resources into virtual storage which scales with the same ease and which takes advantage of the low cost and high performance of commodity enterprise SSDs.
  • the storage pool

    Maxta's architecture aggregates the SSDs and HDDs in the server pool into a single globally accessible, fault tolerant SSD accelerated virtual storage pool.

    Within Maxta's software - all the SSDs are collected together as 1 super SSD resource and another big resource is created from the HDDs.

    Internally Maxta's software knows that SATA SSDs and SATA HDDs have different personalities for example:-

    • HDDs have low cost per unit of capacity but slow random read latency
    • SSDs have fast random read, and fast sequential write

    Not every node in the array has to have an SSD or HDD inside but it's not sensible to have a system which doesn't have any SSDs at all.
  • fault tolerance, data integrity, VM snapshots, cloning etc

    Yes they're all in the product now.
  • software? - it's a virtual world view

    Everything about MxSP is virtual. And it doesn't require new management tools. The operational aspects will clarify in customer case studies and white papers.
  • Maxta's business plan

    I told Yoram how disillusioned I had become about the sustainability and viability of new storage software companies - given my experience of having tracked over 1,000 storage companies and terminating the list of gone-away and acquired companies in a single decade at the 500 company level. (That's before I started the gone-away SSD companies list BTW - which is well on its way to 100.)

    Jaundiced by that experience it seems to me that over 95% of storage software startups don't have much of a clue about how to translate their IP assets into any sustainable business value and are mostly founded at the outset with the fervent desire that before the VC and IPO money run out - they will get acquired. So I asked him if Maxta would be any different to that?

    Yoram told me some of what Maxta has been doing in laying the foundations for growing the business to become a significant storage platform (in his words) a significant software company like Microsoft or Veritas.

    I won't say more here because this is too long already - despite having not even mentioned most of the notes I made during our conversation.

    Looking back on this nearly a week later (and having seen some of their documents before) I'm left with the impression that maybe indeed Yoram is right and his company could become not only one of the rare storage software companies which are sustainable as a business. But going further than that - maybe too it has the makings of a company which could be one of the five to ten companies which will dominate the SSD software platform market of the future.

    Who are the other contenders?

    I've given you lists before - but this list is evolving because 4 of the 10 companies were still in stealth mode last time I did that.

    If you're interested in the SSD enhanced storage platform idea (and who wouldn't be) then another good place to look is the list of competitors which I've compiled in Maxta's profile page.



new blog by PernixData describes the intermediate states of play for its HA clustered write acceleration SSD cache

Editor:- November 5, 2013 - In a clustered, SSD ASAP VM environment which supports both read and write acceleration it's essential to know the detailed policies of any products you're considering - to see if the consequences - on data vulnerability and performance comply with strategies which are acceptable for your own intended uses.

In a new blog - Fault Tolerant Write Acceleration by Frank Denneman Technology Evangelist at PernixData describes in a rarely seen level of detail the various states which his company's FVP goes through when it recognizes that a fault has occured in either server or flash. And the blog describes the temporary consequences - such as loss of acceleration - which occur until replacement hardware is pulled in and configured automatically by the system software.

Stating the design principles of this product - Frank Denneman says - "Data loss needs to be avoided at all times, therefore the FVP platform is designed from the ground up to provide data consistency and availability. By replicating write data to neighboring flash devices data loss caused by host or component failure is prevented. Due to the clustered nature of the platform FVP is capable to keep the state between the write data on the source and replica hosts consistent and reduce the required space to a minimum without taxing the network connection too much." ...read the article

high availability enterprise SSDs
SSD ASAPs - auto tiering / caching appliances


OCZ has a web browser based tool for managing the health of SSDs installed in your networks

Editor:- October 29, 2013 - OCZ today announced the availability for immediate download of a new enterprise SSD software management tool which leverages the internal SMART log files and controllers in OCZ's enterprise SSDs installed on various hosts and operating systems in the customer's connected networks.

"SSDs have become a critical component of the modern data center and IT managers expect enterprise-tools that optimally manage and maintain them. Our StoragePro XL management system is designed to centrally manage our complete portfolio of enterprise drives covering SATA, SAS and PCIe and does so in a very easy and non-obtrusive manner" said Dr. Allon Cohen VP of Software and Solutions for OCZ. "This level of remote host and SSD management provides the system information and SSD health that IT professionals need..."

StoragePro XL features:-
  • provides a structured group-based view of host and SSD activity throughout the data center
  • enables customisable alerts triggered by parameters in SMART log data
  • simplifies SSD installation - such as firmware updates
  • can generate SSD maintenance reports - such as raw read error rate, wear-out stats, and other usage data
Editor's comments:- the simplest way to get what all this is about is to click on the StoragePro XL product page which shows various screenshots.

the SSD reliability papers
SSD testing & analyzer news
MLC seniors live longer in my SSD care home


McObject shows in-memory database resilience in NVDIMM

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

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

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

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

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

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


the SSD software event horizon

Editor:- October 8, 2013 - Ever wondered about the awesome market power of software? It's not just servers and hard drive arrays which have utilization rates. Meet Ken and the enterprise SSD software event horizon - the (long anticipated) new home page blog. ...read the article


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


Diablo readies new SSD interface for VMware ecosystem

Editor:- September 17, 2013 - Diablo Technologies today announced it has joined VMware's technology alliance program.

See also:- memory channel SSDs


Proximal Data announces AutoCache version 2

Editor:- August 26, 2013 - Proximal Data today announced the release of version 2.0 of AutoCache (SSD ASAP software ). Pricing starts at $999 per host for flash caches less than 500GB. The company has been demonstrating the new version working with PCIe SSDs from Micron at VMworld.


Enmotus demos FuzeDrive hybrid array software

Editor:- August 13, 2013 - Enmotus announced that it is demonstrating its FuzeDrive (hybrid SSD ASAP) solutions (with Toshiba SSDs inside) at the Flash Memory Summit.

"While helping accelerate early adoption of SSDs, today's caching solutions don't always provide the results users expect. FuzeDrive avoids using traditional caching techniques, and instead borrows its concepts from intelligent real time virtualization, data movement and storage pooling techniques typically found in larger 'big iron' enterprise systems," said Andy Mills, CEO and Co-founder of Enmotus.


how new SSD software gets things done faster

Editor:- July 29, 2013 - "One of the ironies of legacy systems software running in flash systems is the way that the data weaves through layers of fossilized unreality where emulation is stacked on emulation." - from the news page blog - Atomic Writes, and a faster way for the Princess to get her shoes


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.


HGST catches VeloBit

Editor:- July 10, 2013 - For the past 15 years from what I've seen - the ultimate business aim of most storage software companies has been - to get acquired.

That's been even more true in the SSD software market - wherein frankly - most companies don't even pretend to invest in sustainable business models.

In the past 2 years - an SSD software company has been acquired every 2 months (on average) and the latest company sustaining that trend is VeloBit which has been acquired by WD for deployment by its subsidiary HGST - it was announced today.

In case you've forgotten why this trend started - software makes it easier to sell more SSDs and the ROI from a vendor's point of view is better than doubling the sales force. That's why valuations (not disclosed in this case yet) have been so disconnected from the financial outlook of the ISV's themselves. See also:- SSD ASAPs


Software is the reason enterprise SSD users are talking to SanDisk

Editor:- June 19, 2013 - SanDisk recently announced a new version - 3.2 - of its FlashSoft (SSD caching software) for Windows Server ($3,000), and Linux ($3,500). New in this release is high availability support with low latency SSD mirroring for "safe write-back" caching. Improvements include:- larger cache sizes upto 2TB per cache and upto 8TB cache per server. Also the number of volumes supported by a single cache has increased from 255 to 2048.

Editor's comments:- Many enterprise SSD users - who wouldn't dream of approaching SanDisk to use its raw SSDs in their enterprise projects - are more than willing to use their enterprise SSD software and share their ideas about their enterprise SSD problems and their experiences.

Can SanDisk really transform itself into an enterprise SSD heavyweight? - See the new article and analysis in SSD news.


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).


exciting new directions in rackmount SSDs

Editor:- May 29, 2013 - A new generation of enterprise SSD rackmounts is breaking all the rules which previously constrained price, performance and reliability. The new maths of this SSD box trend - with software in the soul of the SSD - are explored in my recent home page blog on StorageSearch.com - exciting new directions in rackmount SSDs. ...read the article


Stec's profiler removes guesswork in sizing SSD caches

Editor:- May 21, 2013 - Stec today announced that it's offering a free profiling tool - EnhanceIO Profiler - which can enable users to determine how much benefit they would get from using its EnhanceIO (SSD caching software) - before they even install any SSDs.

The company says that the "non-disruptive installation" can save hours of administrative trial and error by recommending the optimal block size, and the capacity and type of SSDs to be used for maximum performance gain.


OCZ gets award for Windows compatible SQL flash cache

Editor:- May 8, 2013 - OCZ today announced that its ZD-XL SQL Accelerator earned the Best of Interop award in the data center and storage category.

ZD-XL (unveiled at CeBIT last February) is a bundled package for Windows servers which includes an SQL optimized flash caching software appliance which leverages the low latency of an associated OCZ PCIe SSD card.

The judging committee, comprised of 16 IT editors and analysts who reviewed nearly 150 entries. See also:- SSD ASAPs, PCIe SSDs


Do you have impure thoughts about deduping SSDs?

Editor:- March 28, 2013 - What comes to your mind when you think about SSDs and dedupe?

A theoretical ratio? - x2, x5, x10...

Or maybe you groan? - It's too messy to manage and even if capacity gets better, something else gets worse - so let's just forget the idea...

A new blog - Introducing the SSD Dedupe Ticker - by Pure Storage looks at the state of customer reaility in this aspect of SSD array technology and comments on the variations you can get according to the type of app and the way of doing the dedupe.

Among other things the article also looks at the biggie question - of performance impact - answering the author's rhetorical question - "why hasn't deduplication taken the primary storage world by storm like it has the backup world?" ...read the article


Nimbus brings flash SMART plus stats to SSD rackmounts

Editor:- March 25, 2013 - Nimbus Data Systems today announced new software APIs which support its proprietary HALO OS based family of rackmount SSDs - and report on hundreds of real-time and historical metrics such as:- flash endurance, capacity utilization, latency, power consumption, deduplication rates, and overall system health. Another new feature is that sys admins can monitor their Nimbus SSD arrays via new apps on Android / Apple phones and tablets.

Thomas Isakovich, CEO and founder of Nimbus Data said the new software framework would enable cloud architects and enterprise customers to gain greater insight into their flash storage by viewing internal aspects of their flash storage which mattered to them - rather than simply relying on benchmark indicators which have been cherry picked by vendors or reviewers


another $24 million funding for ZFS SSD ASAP ISV Nexenta

Editor:- February 27, 2013 - Nexenta Systems today announced it has secured $24 million in Series D financing.

The company's SSD ASAP software - called NexentaStor - currently supports SSDs from the following companies:- DDRdrive, HGST, InnoDisk , Intel, LSI, OCZ, SanDisk, Seagate, SMART and STEC - according to Nexenta's hardware support list (pdf).


Virident betas remote PCIe SSD sharing

Editor:- February 21, 2013 - Virident Systems recently announced beta availability of a new software suite - called FlashMAX Connect - which enables low latency shared server-side storage and high availability when used with the company's range of PCIe SSDs.

New functionality includes:-
  • fast / low-latency synchronous mirroring that replicates writes from one server to another, providing storage node or server failover without affecting application and data availability.
  • shared storage management in remote PCIe SSDs. This allows customers to share the storage residing on remote servers and thereby scale PCIe flash capacity independent of compute. For example - a single PCIe flash card can service multiple servers.
  • Easily managed controllability of cache policies within installed PCIe SSDs:- write-back, write-through and write-around cache so that users can choose cache modes which provide better fit to their performance and infrastructure needs.
Editor's comments:- it's long been known within the SSD industry that these features have been in the pipeline - because they're based on support at the PCIe switch chip level.

For an overview of this architecture enabling chip level support and how it offers flexibility in servers and SSDs - take a look at this video - PCIe in enterprise SSD designs by PLX.


Software - a new reason to reconsider Intel's server SSDs

Editor:- February 13, 2013 - Intel yesterday announced that in the next 30 days it will ship a Linux version of the SSD caching software - based on IP from its acquisition of NEVEX last August. The products have been rebranded as Intel® CAS (Cache Acceleration Software).

Editor's comments:- I would categorize Intel's current generation of enterprise SSD solutions (which includes the same old indifferent SSDs working with the new CAS software) as being in the medium to fast-enough performance range.

Suitable customers might be end users who have never used SSD acceleration before - or users with apps which don't need the higher speeds offered by competing SSD bundled drive / module packages from Fusion-io, SanDisk and OCZ - and customers who don't want to do their caching via dedicated rackmount based products from the dozens of other vendors listed in the SSD ASAPs directory.

The market segment addressed by these new Intel products is the early majority of enterprise SSD adopters - who will be reassured by the perceived safety of buying into the dangerous world of solid state storage acceleration from a value based brand.

I spoke about the new CAS software to Intel product manager Andrew Flint who cofounded NEVEX and I learned some useful things about the product.

The first question I asked was - how many PCIe SSDs can the CAS product support in a single server? And were there any graphs showing how performance drops off or is maintained when you do that.

The answer was - this info isn't publicly available right now. Although it may be in the future.

That's when I concluded that Intel CAS (married to current generation Intel SSDs) isn't a fast product - and is not in the kind of performance league where a user would seriously worry about this type of scalability problem.

Intel's ideal end-user customers right now for CAS are people who have been using no SSD acceleration at all coupled with hard drive arrays. That performance silo could change - with faster Intel SSDs in the future - and isn't due to limiting characteristics in the software.

I asked - Does it support 3rd party SSDs?

I was told - the standard release only supports Intel SSDs. But there's nothing in principle to prevent it being used with other SSDs using the open source release of the software.

The product is a read cache. I was told that it makes very good use of whatever RAM is in the server to optimize both read and write performance. However, my view is that as Intel SSDs aren't fast - this is somewhat academic.

I asked about the time constants which are analyzed by the caching software - and learned that - depending on the app - the data usage period which is analyzed goes up to days. (Generally in this type of product longer is better - and when you go up from milli-seconds and seconds to minutes, hours and days - you have the potential to get better caching results.)

I learned that Intel CAS isn't written around the data structure or interface - and is hardware agnostic. Users can tell the software which apps they want to cache - via a control panel. This is very useful in environments where a single server is running a mix of apps - some of which are critical (in performance needs) while others are not.

I asked - does the CAS have to have advance knowledge of the app? - Is it optimized for a preset list of apps?

I was told - No. It will work just as well for - what I called - dark matter software- which might be a proprietary app which no one else knew about.

I asked if Intel collects stats from the general population of installed servers which use the software? - in order to improve tuning algorithms...

I was told - No. The optimizations (data eviction probability rates) are done based on what is learned on the customer's own server and private data - and the factory shipped software. There isn't a wider intelligence learning or gathering or snooping function.

I learned that a special feature of this Intel CAS release is the ability to share cache resources with a remote SSD. The data stays hot and doesn't have to be recreated when different virtual machines are accessing this type of resource.

Overall I came away with a good impression of the CAS software and how well the NEVEX technology idea has been assimilated into Intel's SSD business.

It will undoubtedly help Intel sell more SSDs to people who have never used enterprise SSDs before - and maybe also to people with low end apps who have used SSD acceleration before but whose first choice of SSDs wouldn't otherwise have been Intel.


aligning database block sizes with SSDs

Editor:- February 5, 2013 - I was only saying to someone yesterday that I've had emails from readers who are designing software for SSDs who - having researched the subject of flash etc - then spent too much time over-worrying about internal SSD hardware details that they really shouldn't be worrying about - because by the time they learn about it - that type of hardware issue is ancient history.

By a curious coincidence today I came across a recent blog by Chas. Dye at Pure Storage called Please DON'T Fiddle with Your Database Block Size! - which also warns about this very issue.

Chas says - "At Pure Storage, we believe that a factor that should never influence the block size decision is your storage subsystem."

Editor's comments:- I'd certainly agree that trying to slavishly make your data structures look like something you've read about which might be inside an SSD controller is probably a waste of time - because unless you know the SSD designer you don't really know what's going on - and the abstraction you read about in some web site is only a small part of the picture. If an SSD is so sensitive to the data you hit it with - it's not the SSD you should have bought in the first place.


Violin acquires GridIron

Editor:- January 21, 2013 - Violin today announced it has acquired GridIron Systems.

Editor's comments:- in October 2012 I listed GridIron as 1 of the 3 main contenders to Fusion-io in the enterprise SSD software stakes -with the qualifying comment...

"GridIron - probably has the most sophisticated SSD ASAP software in the industry. But it's a shame it has been tied (until recently) to their hardware - an SSD HDD hybrid box."

Today's announcement - which adds to the growing list of notable SSD acquisitions in the modern era of the SSD market - will enable Violin to strengthen its already established authority in the enterprise SSD rack market.


Virident's PCIe SSDs VMware Ready

Editor:- January 14, 2013 - Virident Systems today announced that its FlashMAX II family (PCIe SSDs) has achieved VMware Ready status.


Samsung acquires an SSD software company

Editor:- December 15, 2012 - Samsung has acquired an SSD software company - NVELO which operates in the SSD ASAPs (caching) market.


IOPS / $ as a goodness metric for enterprise SSDs is bad

Editor:- December 5, 2012 - The cost of SSDs is one of the arguments most often cited by antis to explain why (in their view) the transition to a pure SSD storage market can't happen.

I guess the designers of the first ships made from iron (which unlike wood doesn't float) and the first airplanes (which were heavier than air) must've got used to hearing similar objections. ...more in SSD news


Enmotus demos its SSD ASAP technology

Editor:- November 27, 2012 - Enmotus is demonstrating its auto-tiering software - which it calls automated MicroTiering technology (pdf) - for the first time in public this week at the Server Design Summit.


in memory database is even better with FIO's flash SSDs

Editor:- November 19, 2012 - McObject today announced that it has run benchmarks of its (intrinsically designed for) in-memory database systems software - with transaction logging enabled - on a number of different devices - and in particular Fusion-io's ioDrive SSDs.

Editor's comments:- In a paper published 3 years ago - In-Memory Database Systems: Myths & Facts - McObject said that fast flash SSDs used as the storage hot spot for traditional database software could never get performance as good as their own in-memory solution running in DRAM with legacy hard drive array bulk storage - and various remarks in that paper sent out a strong anti-SSD message which the company is in effect correcting today.

What McObject is now saying - is that by using a fast low latency SSD for the "performance draining" transaction log - you can get even greater speedups. There are other benefits too - which arise from the efficiency of their small footprint database - which means that a software product - which was originally designed for the DRAM-HDD world - is a good fit in the flash SSD world too - if you have the right scale of data and the right SSD.

...Later:- McObject's Marketing Director Ted Kenney emailed me to clarify a couple of points about their product and my interpretation of their business thinking. Here's some of what he said.

I would point out one thing about your blog post, just to clarify from McObject's point of view.

You mention the Myths & Facts white paper, specifically where we argue (Myth 3, I believe) that an IMDS will always be faster than an on-disk DBMS that uses an SSD to store records.

Keep in mind that that paper's comparison does not touch on transaction logging. At least, transaction logging is not mentioned; the assumption (our assumption, in writing it) is that the comparison is between a "pure" IMDS (all data kept in main memory and nothing stored to persistent media), and an on-disk DBMS that stores records on a SSD. Our conclusion was that while the DBMS storing to SSD is likely faster than a DBMS storing to HDD, it still can't touch the performance of a pure IMDS.

In contrast, our recent comparison (the subject of the press release I sent you) is focused differently: it presumes that the user wants data durability and recoverability. That rules out use of the pure IMDS (because RAM storage is volatile), so we instead look at solutions that deliver recoverability/durability, specifically an on-disk DBMS storing records to persistent media vs. an IMDS with transaction logging (let's call that IMDS+TL). Then for the IMDS+TL we measure performance using different storage devices: HDD, SSD and ioDrive.

The result: an IMDS+TL storing its log on HDD beats the performance of a DBMS storing records to HDD (by about 3x). If you then "upgrade" the device on which the IMDS+TL stores its transaction log, the performance difference (compared to DBMS+HDD) is even greater (as much as 15x when using the ioDrive). But – the recent round of testing did not look at the "pure" IMDS performance. If it had, the pure IMDS would have beat the IMDS+TL using any of the devices to store its transaction log.

We hadn't considered that our message in the earlier white paper was "anti-SSD" or that we were now correcting that message. Instead, we'd say that the earlier paper looked at a scenario in whichperformance is the highest goal (the only goal mentioned, anyway) whereas the new tests focused on performance, with durability/recoverability as an additional requirement.

Re your comment - "It seems that a software product – which was originally designed for the DRAM-HDD world – is a good fit in the flash SSD world, too – if you have the right scale of data and the right SSD." - Actually eXtremeDB was designed for the DRAM world initially (in-memory only). When we later added support for persistent storage (first with transaction logging, later with optional persistent storage for selected record types) we were (and still are) agnostic: eXtremeDB does not recognize or care about the type of persistent media used.

Again – thanks for taking the time to look at our news and at our various statements vis-à-vis flash, storage and performance. It sounds like you understand our technology and the issues involved. I just wanted to point out that the white paper's discussion, and this recent press release, take slight different perspectives on what the developer/end-user is trying to accomplish.


OCZ's new VXL software release includes fault tolerant support for arrays of PCIe SSDs

Editor:- October 23, 2012 - OCZ today released a new version (1.2 ) of its VXL cache and virtualization software - which provides high availability, synchonous replication and enhanced VM performance across arrays of the company's Z-Drive R4 PCIe SSDs.

The company says this assures that host-based flash is treated as a continuously available storage resource across virtualized clusters and yields no data loss and no VM downtime even during complete server failures.

"By combining the power of storage virtualization and PCIe flash caching, and by working centrally with the hypervisor rather than with each local VM, we have developed a solution that takes full advantage of flash without losing any of the benefits associated with virtualization," said Dr. Allon Cohen, VP of Software and Solutions, OCZ. "VXL's ability to transparently distribute flash resources across virtualized environments provides IT professionals with a simple to implement solution..."


in the SSD software golf challenge who's got a similar handicap to Fusion-io?

Editor:- October 2, 2012 - last week I was asked by a reader (who didn't want to be named here) if I could suggest any companies which have SSD software as powerful and far reaching as that of Fusion-io.

I thought it would be much too simplistic to answer with a list of names taken out of context - so instead I said there are several different levels at which you can view and analyze this:-
  • down in the flash
  • above the flash array
  • communicating intelligence between the API and raw flash level
  • working between different storage systems and software components (caching, tiering, virtualization, data protection etc)
  • working in different markets - enterprise and consumer.

    Why consumer? - you ask - I thought we were talking about Fusion-io?

    As I mentioned a few years ago Fusion-io's software is applicable to notebooks. It's simply a commercial decision not to pursue that avenue in the current unprofitable state of the consumer market. But in the long term it's one of the reasons that the company is rated as being so valuable - because its technology can span solid state storage from the level of Ultrabooks (with PCIe inside) upto supercomputers.
After using a lot more words in my email than I've used here - the end result was a reply to my reader with a list of companies which you wouldn't be too surprised to see if you looked at the list of top enterprise SSD companies and correlated that with who's acquired or developed their own software. The list ran something like this:-
  • FlashSoft (acquired by SanDisk) - have the makings of a serious industry platform.
  • GridIron - probably has the most sophisticated SSD ASAP software in the industry. (In my email I said - shame it's tied to their hardware - an SSD HDD hybrid box. But this week - that has changed. See the notes below for more about this.)
  • SANRAD (acquired by OCZ) is also a contender.
Interacting between the hardware layers to optimize the system within enterprise racks and arrays - the ability to hop in with intelligence gained from another level to tweak performance and reliability - is a genuine efficiency asset.
  • Virident - have several layers of intelligence in their PCIe SSD software. They don't like to talk too much about the details. But it's one of the things which makes their offering stronger than many others.
  • Nimbus - started out using a standard SSD controller in their 2.5" SAS arrays - but have added some firmware level access points which they leverage from higher levels to manage fault tolerance and performance.
  • Skyera - is probably the hottest example of this. They dive in at many levels to increase efficiency of the way they use flash.
And in the consumer software space I suggested:-
  • EasyCo - the very first enterprise SSD software company which was bumped aside by the SandForce inside technology wave - has found a new market opening selling their endurance and performance enhancing software to makers of cheap flash storage for phones and consumer devices. It's no longer world beating IP - but it has its uses. (And maybe attractive for future patent trolls.)
The only real surprise in the list above to regular readers - might be GridIron - which because they haven't been a true pure SSD company (their main product is hybrid SSD and HDD boxes) don't get so many mentions on these SSD pages.

Anyway - I was reminded about the above email exchange when I saw GridIron's press release in my email this morning regarding their TurboCharger GT-1500 Data Accelerator Appliance - a 2U 12TB SSD ASAP - which can accelerate upto 120TB of back end storage.

In one way this can be regarded as an extrapolation of Dataram's XcelaSAN - which was launched 3 years ago. But the difference is in the detail and sophistication of the hotspot algorithms - which GridIron describe as "multi-zone behavior profiling (pdf)"

GridIron have a new (to me) marketing tagline - "Tier 0 Performance at Tier 2 Pricing" - I don't like SSD tiers myself - I prefer the idea of enterprise SSD application silos. But GridIron's summary of what they do is better than most.

Going back to the original question at the start of today's posting.

Do I know any vendors whose SSD software can match or beat Fusion-io?

Overall - the answer is - No. But in many important areas the answer is - Yes.

In my ramblings today (remember this started out as a much longer rambling email) you can see that the SSD software market is alive, healthy and just as competitive as the flash hardware business. Apologies to all the other companies I could have named but left out. You'll get your turn later.


AMD will rebrand Dataram's RAMDisk software

Editor:- September 6, 2012 - Dataram today announced it will develop a version of its RAMDisk software which will be rebranded by AMD in Q4 under the name of Radeon RAMDisk and will target Windows market gaming enthusiasts seeking (upto 5x) faster performance when used with enough memory.


STEC mini-survey suggests that 60% of serious VM users already use SSDs

Editor:- August 28, 2012 - A survey of visitors attending the first day of VMworld - and conducted on behalf of STEC - suggested that over 60% of attendees already had SSDs in their datacenters but also that less than 50% of their business-critical applications are currently supported by SSDs.


is SanDisk really nurturing true enterprise SSD DNA?

Editor:- August 15, 2012 - Do you remember FlashSoft?

Many of you still do. It was one of the top enterprise SSD software companies before it got acquired 6 months ago by SanDisk.

One of the tips in the Survivor's Guide to Enterprise SSDs - is that when it comes to SSDs - rules are made to be broken.

And earlier this week I learned this can apply to my own gut feel rules of thumb too. The unwritten rule being that semiconductor companies generally make a mess of enterprise software and are not so hot at understanding the enterprise SSD market either.

Frankly I had expected that FlashSoft would disappear into SanDisk - and would get smothered by a marketing organization which had many times before demonstrated its lack of awareness of the fundamentals of good enterprise SSD marketing. And that was the tone of my parting message to the founders along with a few words of congratulations as they disappeared into the new SNDK afterlife. I never expected to hear from them again.

So the first thing I asked Rich Petersen - (former VP of Marketing at FlashSoft and now Director, Marketing Management at SanDisk) a few days ago was - how are they doing as part of a chip company? What are they doing with the FlashSoft brand? How do they plan to develop the enterprise SSD business? etc.

One of the things that Rich had wanted to talk about was the release of new support in their caching software for VMware vSphere. We spent a lot of time talking about that too - and had a big discussion about the role of SSD software - not only as a business tool - but in effect as a new way of virtualizing and looking at enterprise SSDs and how they can fit into architecture models. (My view is that a powerful SSD suite - if it becomes widely used - can be as significant to the SSD market - as a new interface or form factor.)

We covered enough ground to write several long articles. I'm not going to do that today - because I'm supposed to be on vacation and sitting out in the garden by my pool.

So you should regard this as the really really short version - and a placeholder for much more detail which I will return to later.

FlashSoft - or the enterprise SSD software part of SanDisk (or whatever else you may want to call it) is today operating in a business mode which is like what you would expect from a best of breed enterprise SSD systems company. They talk to end users like they've always done. They learn to change important aspects of how the products work and are sold because of feedback from end users - and not because they've read that something is a good idea in a market analyst's report.

There are some surprising consequences of this at the technical and business level.

Chief among those surprises for me is that FlashSoft says it will still support other brands of SSDs. Rich explained this was just a pragmatic business decision. Big users told them they like FlashSoft - but they already use or might want to use non-SanDisk SSDs. These users are only going to standardize on one SSD software platform. They don't want to learn 2 different ways of doing the same thing.

On the other hand an advantage of having access to an enterprise SSD maker is that if a big user needs some expensive hardware on which to evaluate the benefits of their software - then it's easier on the marketing budget to get some SanDisk SSDs to do this.

FlashSoft's visibility into what enterprise end users really do - and the suprising preferences they have - which are driven by customer business optimizations rather than simplistic technical extrapolations - also means that - like rackmount SSD companies - FlashSoft learns valuable market lessons which can be reapplied to optimize designs in future SanDisk enterprise silicon.


Violin plugs some software gaps with Symantec

Editor:- August 13, 2012 - Violin Memory today announced its rackmount SSDs can now support snapshots, cloning, dedupe, replication and thin provisioning - based on software IP from Symantec.


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.

Going back to SSD software...

In the 1990s Sun Microsystems created and leveraged the phrase - the Network is the Computer.

I have long thought an apt reinterpretation of that in this decade is "the SSD is the computer" - or maybe the "SSD software is the computer" - because the ultimate characteristics of fast computers are determined more by the SSD architecture which is installed - than by the same old CPU chips.


AutoCache for PCIe SSDs

Editor:- July 23, 2012 - Proximal Data announced immediate availability of its first product - a software based SSD ASAP - designed to work with PCIe SSDs - in particular - products from LSI and Micron.

AutoCache ($999 for cache sizes less than 500GB) reduces bottlenecks in virtualized servers to increase VM density, efficiency and performance. The company says it can increase VM density upto 3x with absolutely no impact on IT operations.

Editor's comments:- here are some questions I asked about the new product - and the answers I got from Rich Pappas, Proximal's VP of sales and business development.

Editor:- How long does it take for the algorithms to reach peak efficiency?

Pappas:- It varies by workload, but typically it takes about 15 minutes for the cache to warm to reach peak efficiency.

Editor:- Is the caching only on reads, or is it effective on writes too?

Pappas:- AutoCache will only cache reads, but by virtue of relieving the backend datastore from read traffic, we have actually seen overall write performance improvements as well. This effect is also dependent on the workload.


Amazon offers explicit SSD performance in the cloud

Editor:- July 19, 2012 - There are many ways SSDs can be used inside classic cloud storage services infrastructure:- to keep things running smoothly (even out IOPS), reduce running costs etc.

Amazon Web Services recently launched a new high(er) IOPS instance type for developers who explicitly want to access SSD like performance.

In 3 to 5 years time all enterprise storage infastucture will be solid state - but due to economic necessities it will still be segmented into different types by speed and function - as I described in my SSD silos article - even when it's all solid state.

I predict that when that happens - AWS's marketers may choose to describe its lowest speed storage as "HDD like" - even when it's SSD - in order to convey to customers what it's about. It takes a long time for people to let go of old ideas. Remember Virtual Tape Libraries?


Software is key to SSD innovation - says blog from Virident

Editor:- June 29, 2012 - Dedupe and fibre-channel are some of the innovations discussed in a new blog by Jeff Sosa, Director of Product Management, Virident Systems who poses the question - is flash storage an incremental or a radical innovation?

Sosa's article goes on to say - "The 'radical' innovation in the host-attached flash storage marketplace today comes from products that not only access flash through a PCIe connection, but also bypass storage protocols to drive new levels of performance and enable new functionality not previously imagined." ...read the article


Nutanix announces a new NFS for PCIe SSD accelerated CPUs

Editor:- June 12, 2012 - Nutanix today Nutanix announced the general availability of NDFS (Nutanix Distributed File System), a bold new distributed filesystem that has been optimized to leverage localized low latency PCIe SSDs such as those from Fusion-io.

By shifting the NFS datapath away from the network directly onto the VMware vSphere host, NDFS bypasses network communications that have historically been fraught with multiple high-latency hops between top-of-rack and end-of-row switches.

Nutanix accelerates both read and writes for any workload. Redundancy and availability are achieved by data mirroring across high-speed 10GbE switches.

Editor's comments:- Nutanix is in the SSD ASAP market - with CPU-SSD equivalency architecture integrated in the OS. The company says their architecture "collapses compute and storage into a single tier." You can get the general idea from their blog and video.


STEC releases SSD cache software for any make of SSD

Editor:- June 6, 2012 - STEC today announced the general availability of the company's EnhanceIO SSD Cache Software for Linux and Windows environments with pricing starting from $295 and $495 (per server) for a 1 year subscription.

STEC says its SSD cache software can used with any vendor's SAS, Fibre Channel, PCIe or SATA SSD.

In addition, a Linux version of EnhanceIO SSD Cache Software, based on Facebook's Flashcache caching module, will be made available under a general public license (GPLv2).

"As one of the original architects of Flashcache, I'm extremely pleased to see this technology being enhanced and supported by STEC in their EnhanceIO software," said Mohan Srinivasan, software engineer at Facebook. "Flashcache has proven to be an invaluable tool for accelerating application performance at Facebook."

Users can choose from a selection of caching schemes and block sizes to suit their preference and SSD's capabilities. STEC stores the metadata for the cache in system DRAM rather than in the SSD. The DRAM required for the cache is 0.1% of the cache size so a terabyte of SSD cache requires about 1GB of DRAM support. Product support tools include a profiler which can collect user data and suggest the best policy option parameters for the cache setup.

Editor's comments:- irrespective of the technical strengths and weaknesses (and pricing model) of the this new product compared to other competing SSD ASAP / caching offerings - one question which immediately springs to mind is this.

How serious is STEC about making this software work as a standalone product? And if it becomes successful will the company be tempted to bundle it free with its own SSDs?
click for bigger image and more about Spellabyte's software factory
Spellerbyte's software factory

(click here to enlarge and read the
original story for this graphic)
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SSD history
7 silos for enterprise SSD
Can you trust SSD market data?
where are we now with SSD software?
how fast can your SSD run backwards?
what really changed in SSD year 2014?
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The idea of using flash as a new memory tier isn't new. And neither is the idea of using flash in DRAM memory slots. But in 2014 there were several developments which added weight to the usefulness of these ideas.
10 key SSD ideas which made impacts in 2014
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SSD ad - click for more info

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"The winners in SSD software could be as important for infrastructure as Microsoft was for PCs, or Oracle was for databases, or Google was for search."
get ready for a new world in which
all enterprise data touches SSDs

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SSD ad - click for more info

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"In 2014 we'll see the battle lines for the SSD Platform being drawn up - as vendors all try to convince you that any plans you make will be more future-proof if you use their software."
the big SSD idea changes in 2013?

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It sounds simple enough... New Dynasty is a software environment and architecture which is planned at the outset to operate with SSDs. But adding SSD software into the mix brings its own multiplication factors.

What does a server node look like? How is it clustered or scaled? Is the server node part of the storage? Is the server node a building block for all the storage? Where should the storage live? How should it be tiered?
Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise for rackmount SSDs




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SSD ad - click for more info




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That step - when users make the switch to newer generations of software - means not only do they need less servers - but they don't need as many SSDs as they did in an earlier phase of SSD market adoption either.
meet Ken - and the enterprise SSD software event horizon




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Baidu found that by modifying standard SSDs to be compatible with its workload optimized Software-Defined Flash SDF - which changes some of the management methods in the controller - the result is 2x the usable flash capacity and 3x the I/O bandwidth.
SDF: Software-Defined Flash for Web-Scale Internet Storage Systems - research results (pdf)




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One of the more fascinating stories to me in the last two years has been the rapid adoption of the phrase: "software defined storage."
IBM V840 - the way "Software Defined Storage" should be done - by Woody Hutsell, IBM (April 22, 2014)




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"SSDs require a lot of software and processing power to optimize performance, capacity and durability."
Hu Yoshida, VP and CTO, HDS - in his blog - SSDs Are Differentiated by Software (July 30, 2013)




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"One of the potential issues I could see with one of the vendors I interviewed with was their plan for scalability."
Why I Joined a Scale Out Storage Company - by Christopher Wells, Coho Data (April 15, 2014)




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"Scale-out, like anything that is truly worth doing, is really, hard to do well!"
Ritu Jyoti, VP Product Management - Kaminario - in her blog EMC fails to make a splash with flash (September 10, 2013)




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"why are so many companies piling into the SSD market - when even the leading enterprise companies haven't demonstrated sustainable business models yet?"
hostage to the fortunes of SSD




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Software used to be SSD's enemy. Now it can be SSD's best friend.
Survivor's Guide to Enterprise SSDs




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what shoes does the Princess need now?
Editor:- July 29, 2013 - One of the latency reducing tricks in a world where every SSD vendor has access to the same flash memory and interface chips and choice of controller architectures is the applications magnifying power of SSD software.

Sometimes the way that new SSD software gets things done faster is to avoid doing some things at all - by carefully discriminating between - what needs to be done - compared to what would normally get done in blind obedience to tradition.

One of the ironies of legacy systems software running in flash systems is the way that the data weaves through layers of fossilized unreality where emulation is stacked on emulation - and hardwired into the software and data flow logic are the remembered once-deemed-to-be-efficient solutions to data flow control problems whose origins are now almost forgotten.

So the SSD emulates a hard drive. And the hard drive emulates memory.

And it gets worse.

The fetching and prefetching and polite but useless flurries of activity which happen behind the scenes makes it appear more like a bunch of courtiers in a fairy tale palace reacting to this simple request.

The Princess needs shoes.

What shoes? What color? What style? What for?

She hasn't said yet - just get as many shoes as you can carry and be quick about it!

Yet despite all this background mayhem the application - somehow - still runs faster on SSDs than on the old hardware. (And the Princess has never been seen in public without wearing appropriate footwear.)

The other way to save time (improve latency) is to say - what if instead of just speeding up all the tangled processes of emulating a hard drive emulating memory and worrying about all the old fossilized limits of packet sizes and flow control in drives and interface cards which no longer exist except in museums but which have been preserved in legacy software - we instead make an effort to write some new software which knows it's operating in a flash world and doesn't have to recite old HDD spells to charm the data?

Or what-if the Princess knows where the shoe room is - and rather than wait - she's going to get the shoes for herself?

The implications of these what-if? results (for SSD software) are easy to anticipate and we've seen what happens when these ideas have found their way into SSD benchmarks but it still takes time for these new ideas to work their way into standard software products.

And if the Princess changes her mind between the time she sets off to the shoe room and when she gets there - she's still going to get the shoes she wants quicker than if she asked her maid.

All of which is a preamble to say that Fusion-io last week announced that its Atomic Writes API contributed for standardization to the T10 SCSI Storage Interfaces Technical Committee is now in use in mainstream MySQL databases MariaDB 5.5.31 and Percona Server 5.5.31.

Modern SSD Princesses prefer not to be kept waiting.




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"SSD is going down! - We're going down!"
If you've ever watched the movie - Black Hawk Down - there's a memorable scene in which...
Surviving SSD sudden power loss




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If you've seen or read - The Hobbit - then you'll be familiar with the concept of the riddle game.

Something similar is playing out now in the enterprise flash array market.

The setting? I forgot to mention this.

The hero - a mythical hobbit-like creature called "User" is trapped in a high gravity well / force-field - just outside the entrance to a cave in which are stored great treasures.
playing the SSD box riddle game




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better thinking inside the box
Editor:- May 29, 2013 - If you're an enterprise user who is already sold on the idea of using more SSDs - what could be better than a great new SSD drive?

or...

If you're an SSD vendor looking for the magic formula to open up vast new untapped markets for SSDs - what kind of solution do you need to offer to attract enterprises who aren't at the sharp end of the performance pain curve, are content with the speed they get from HDDs and who aren't even looking at SSDs for their network storage?

These problems have been preoccupying the SSD industry's smartest thinkers for years.

And their answer to both questions is the same. (Although details vary).

It's a new type of SSD box.

A new generation of enterprise SSD rackmounts is breaking all the rules which previously constrained price, performance and reliability. The sum impact of cleverly designed SSD arrays is systems which are many times more competitive than you would imagine from any tear-down analysis of the parts.

g about rackmount SSDs is explored in the new home page blog on StorageSearch.com - better thinking inside the box.




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EMC's flash educational video
Editor:- April 15, 2013 - I've been saying for years that any simple analysis - like my enterprise silos model - makes it clear why no single flash product (or supplier) can economically satisfy all requirements.
frame from EMC flash ssd video
The first idea is graphically encapsulated in a video by EMC which they call "FLASH in a flash" which - because I'm not a fan of SSD videos - I only saw for the first time today.

This video also introduces a smart and almost apologetic way of positioning hard drive based storage - as being for applications which can "tolerate multi milli-seconds latency".

That's clever - because they know most of you already have these HDD systems, and EMC is best known for these slower rotating storage systems. That's how they get you to lower your guard by introducing the familiar.

The 2nd half of the video - which is not so good as a general flash video - suggests that EMC is the best supplier to look at because it's got 25 years experience in storage.

In my view that argument doesn't logically follow.

Experience in something that's so very different is irrelevant. It's like suggesting that breeding horses would have made Ford better at designing engines.

Nice try by EMC marketing at subtle SSD sales sophistry by linking irrelevant concepts though.




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"The performance impact from RAID rebuilds becomes compounded with long rebuild times incurred by mutli-terabyte drives. Since traditional RAID rebuilds entirely into a new spare drive, there is a massive bottleneck of the write speed of that single drive combined with the read bottleneck of the few other drives in the RAID set."
Dave Wright, CEO - SolidFire - in his recent blog - Say farewell to RAID storage (March 14, 2013).

see also:- RAID & SSD




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the Modern Era of SSDs
Editor:- January 2, 2013 - My recent home page blog - Strategic Transitions in SSD - mentions some of the key changes in the SSD market which took hold in recent quarters - but as we're starting another new calendar year in SSD - I want to say more about the context here.

Even in a market which appears to be so fast moving as the SSD market - where hot new SSD companies can enter the top SSD companies list (ranked by search) within weeks of exiting stealth mode, and some new SSD companies are acquired within a few quarters of launching their first product - it can still take years before new technologies which excite technologists, analysts and investors are adopted by more than 10% of SSD users.

It's those strategic multi-year big changes and transitions which are sometimes hard to pin down to a single year. For example the transition in the enterprise SSD market from RAM to 98% flash - which took 8 years.

Although it's easy to recognize the start of new technology changes - it's harder to be so precise about big market shifts - because those - by their very nature - occur only when enough people get hold of a new way of doing things and change their buying behavior.

For me looking back at the SSD market - 2013 now clearly marks the 10th anniversary of a distinct market period which I now think of as - the Modern Era of SSDs.

What do I mean by the Modern Era of SSDs?

It's when SSDs changed from being a niche tactical technology which satisfied the needs of some markets (ruggedized military / industrial storage and next generation server acceleration at any cost) to a time when the market advance of SSDs as a significant well known core market within the computer industry became a historical inevitability - and when the only serious technology which could displace an SSD from its market role was another SSD.

Although products which we would recognize as enterprise SSDs were shipping for several years before 2003 - it was in that year, 2003 - when there was enough confidence in the minds of enough people in the SSD market that the future of SSDs could be much bigger (100x bigger) and different to what had happened before.

It wasn't simply my publication of an article at the time which explained why this could happen - nor simply the immediately post publication discussions I had with SSD industry leaders at the time - nor indeed in later years when founders and managers of new SSD companies kindly told me that some of their thinking about the possibilities for the SSD market had been influenced by those earlier articles on StorageSearch.com

It's just as much the case that the alternative futures which could have knocked the SSD market off-course (such as faster CPU clock rates, faster hard drives or faster optical storage) didn't happen.

The year after year "no-shows" by SSD's past phantom demons were just as important as the new SSD technologies which did put in an appearance.

Today it's clear to anyone looking seriously at the data economy - the SSD market is here to stay and has its sights set on being at the center of your future hardware and infrastructure decision making.

lookahead to big upcoming changes in SSD market thinking?

Can I say anything at all useful at this stage about what the 2nd decade of the modern era of SSDs will be like?

I think it will be the time when a critical mass of SSD users become more sophisticated in their understanding and use of different types of SSDs - and when each part of the SSD market becomes less generalized and more focused.

It's not just about the SSD software, and iit's not just about the SSD chip technologies. These simply outline possibilities. What's important - and what will become even clearer - is the dividing lines and colors of application specific SSDs.

Application specific enterprise SSDs - is a technology trend which started shipping more than 3 years ago. But - as I said above - markets happen when enough people have decided to make them happen - and not simply because pioneering products are available.




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"In some ways, blocks lost due to media corruption present a problem similar to recovering deleted files. If it is detected quickly enough, user analysis can be done on the cyclical journal file, and this might help determine the previous state of the file system metadata. Information about the previous state can then be used to create a replacement for that block, effectively restoring a file."
Why CRCs are important - blog by Thom Denholm Datalight (January 2013)




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In October 2002 - StorageSearch.com's editor talked about the role of software versus human-ware in enterprise hot spot optimization.

"Until the storage management software you run in your orgazination is intelligent enough to learn by itself what kinds of applications you're running, and optimize the characteristics of your different types of storage devices, your ability to make the best use out of new storage technologies such as SSDs will be limited by your own technical skills and the amount of work and effort you are prepared to put into solving your own performance and resource utilization problems."
Ancient storage software management inhibits roadmap to $5 billion enterprise SSD market - StorageSearch.com's news page blog (October 2002)




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In November 2002 - Bill Gates, talking about Tablet PC's said:- "There are also a lot of peripherals that need to improve here. ...Eventually even the so-called solid state disks will come along and not only will we have the mechanical disks going down to 1.8 inch but some kind of SSD... will be part of different Tablet PCs."
...from:- SSD market history




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"In May 2003 -Imperial Technology launched the world's first SSD tuning software tool called - WhatsHot SSD - which analyzed real-time file usage on the SAN to identify hot-files to place in SSD."
...from:- SSD market history




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"In May 2004 - the SPARC Product Directory published an article - Why Sun Should Acquire an SSD Company - which argued that integrating SSDs into Sun's Solaris OS and servers would result in the fastest database servers and more than make up for speed deficiencies in its SPARC processors."
...from:- SPARC market history




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In November 2006 - Microsoft announced business availability of its new Vista operating system - loudly heralded as being the first PC market OS to include SSD-aware support and native SSD cache management.

Vista (whether for SSDs or HDDs) proved to be so good that for years after its launch millions of professional pc users upgraded back to XP.
...from:- SSD market history




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"In August 2007 - EasyCo launched its "Managed Flash Technology" software to enable enterprise grade RAID-5 arrays built from consumer grade flash SSDs. MFT boosted SSD writes while also improving endurance..."
...from:- SSD history - 2007 milestones




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"In September 2009 - Dataram launched the XcelaSAN - a fast 2U rackmount SSD ASAP (auto accelerating appliance) which automatically identified hotspots to relocate critical data. The company said the XcelaSAN would automatically learn and self optimize during the 1st few hours of operation..."
...from:- SSD history - 2009 milestones




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In November 2009 - Google opened its doors to developers who wanted to work with Chrome OS - a new operating system for tablets.

In the opening video of the Chrome OS blog we learned that the architects of the new OS were "obsessed with speed". And the new netbook OS was designed from the ground up to support only flash SSDs as the default mass storage.

Google said - there is no room in this OS for outmoded 50 year old hard disk technology.




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"The 3rd quarter of 2011 - was the first time in SSD market history that any software companies had achieved enough search volume to enter the top 20 SSD companies list."
...from:- SSD history - 2011 milestones




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how fast can your SSD run backwards?
SSDs are complex devices and there's a lot of mysterious behavior which isn't fully revealed by benchmarks, datasheets and whitepapers.

Underlying all the important aspects of SSD behavior are asymmetries which arise from the intrinsic technologies and architecture inside the SSD.
SSD symmetries article Which symmetries are most important in an SSD? That depends on your application. ...click to read the article




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Storage Software - by Zsolt Kerekes, editor
The most common type of "storage software" is that which does backup or replication. But there are a lot more different types of storage software than that.

Drivers for making the hardware work with the OS are a good example. But since they nearly always come from the same IHV - there's no point in listing such products here.

Software for analyzing storage can range from simple storage bus analyzers which help developers debug driver code, and freeware which looks at bottlenecks in your database upto SAN wide heavyweight packages which help you understand and manage an enterprise storage network. And while on the subject of SANS - a few brave companies like Nimbus, Open-E and Wasabi have developed what are in effect NAS operating systems.

As WAN storage networks have become more common the concept of accelerating or deduping the communications payload has also received a lot of developer attention. A leading pioneer in the IP acceleration software market is NetEx, whereas the list of storage deduplication ISVs mentioned on these pages already runs into double digits.

Security is a big subject - which has had its own pages for many years. And the Disk Sanitizer market which started out as a software solutions market has expanded into hardware - because it takes too long to erase hundreds or thousands of discarded hard drives (or tapes) using software on a single PC.
Many Data Recovery companies offer software downloads to help you with simper recovery tasks. But when your hard drives have been charred to smoky plastic or immersed in the sludge waters of a flood - a UPS or Fedex upload is a more realistic solution.

If all of that sounds too complicated then there are plenty of independent Storage Training companies to help you do it yourself or (if you've got enough money) Storage Services companies who will take the problem of managing it all off your hands.

ISVs like to talk about "lifecycles" - because it makes it sound like they've actually thought about what will happen to their teenage hacker developed code, or your data, for more than 5 minutes. Virtualization is another word which has been fashionable in recent years. Although every piece of software that's not part of a hardware driver or OS kernel already includes many levels of assumed virtualization.

One part of the lifecycle which ISVs don't talk about so much - is that part when they are no longer in business having gone bust or been acquired. But it doesn't seem to stop new startup ISVs going to the local storage VC in the wall machines to request funding.

There are thousands of storage software related stories in our storage history archive.




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