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2012 - year of the enterprise SSD goldrush

by Zsolt Kerekes editor - published October 2011
can you guess the mood music of SSD in 2012?

With all the complicated things going on in the SSD market - you might think it's nuts to try and summarize the mood of a whole year in a single sentence or a headline (especially in advance).

Well - take a peek at the top of your screen... Have you spotted the mice yet?

You're not scared of mice. You've probably seen them before - and wondered the very same thing. (The nuts bit.) But if you look in my SSD history article (which starts from the year 1976 - 200 years after a rather more auspicious year in world history) - you'll observe that summarizing the mood of each year in a short headline is exactly what I've done for each and every year since 2002.

All those early yearly SSD headlines were in fact written after each year was safely done and dusted - but part way through 2007 I started taking the risk of doing the headline before the year had ended. And more recently I've been naming the flavor of each SSD year - in advance. And so far - inside Intel readers please pay particular attention at this point - I haven't had to do any scryware updates or recalls.

I find it a lot easier doing more detailed long-range SSD predictions than these near-term one-liners. That's because technology and market trends arise from many small cumulative nudges - which add up to big momentums. It's easy to see them - if your job is to look.

guessing the future of SSD - game secrets

If I've been right in the past - now and again - it's because this game of guessing the future and then seeing it happen has many players - which includes leading SSD companies too.

Here's how it goes. I test out my crazy ideas on SSD business makers. I refine them - write about them in these pages - and then the customers who vote for the winning ideas with their actions - get an advanced preview of what might happen. Readers ask some questions. If they're good questions - I try and find out who knows the answers - or make some up. Those go back into the SSD dialog mix. The worst ideas get dropped and the best ones get adopted by a process of Darwinian ideas evolution.

And are there sometimes surprises? You bet! But luckily for me many of the people in the SSD surprise business are also readers of StorageSearch too. So they kindly let me know they exist and tell me (and you) more when they think the time is right.

And I'm a good guesser too - because my brain has been dipped in a lot of SSD sauce.

For me - the idea of all this StorageSearch stuff is to try and understand a complicated market, shift it towards some more viable directions and hope things work out for the best. So - as you can see - the detailed long range forecasts can't fail to be mostly right - because if you all decide that's the best way to go ahead - then you all make it happen. It doesn't take much more than a mouse (and a keyboard) at this end.

guessing next year's headline - is harder

Unlike detailed SSD forecasts - the "Year of the SSD" - headlines are more of a fun thing.

No storage animal gets harmed if I choose the wrong headline - and only my ego suffers. But I probably spend just as much time thinking about these headlines as I do writing whole articles. That's because - I get to see them again and again each time I go back and look at my storage history pages to archive another month of news - or remind myself - who did what first / fastest.

You can get an idea of what comes out the other end of these deliberations by the headlines I wrote for the last couple of years...

2009 - Year of SSD Market Confusion? - That was a safe choice. Shame I can't use it again. (My rule is that each headline must be different to those which have gone before.)

2010 - 1st Fizz in the SSD Market Bubble - I like that one too - because it has the potential to be recycled in the future - by bending my uniqueness rule. Maybe I should wait a year or so and then have a "2nd Fizz..." But that would be cheating.

2011 - Year of Reality Checks for the SSD market (aka year of the FIO IPO). There have been both good and bad reality checks - with financial data from IPOs, quarterly reports and acquisitions - revealing winners and losers in a way which is hard to dispute. (Often signalled in advance by the quarterly list of the search volume based - top SSD companies . ) When markets get big enough to make the bean counting visible - there's no hiding place. If you shine - it shows. And if you stink - people move away.

Back to my problem with 2012.

I know what I want to say - but I've been struggling to find the best short way to say it.

The mood I want to capture - is of an enterprise SSD market which is fired up with new confidence.

In 2012 - makers of the hottest server SSDs aren't excited just by technology.

And they aren't just happy because they just got a good write-up in an analyst's report or a new benchmark review.

And they aren't just happy because they don't have to waste so much time explaining to customers what's an SSD? - and how do SSD IOPS compare with hard drives?

And in the hot shot SSD companies which are still privately owned - the founders aren't going to the VCs. The VCs and investors are going to them. And these SSD companies laugh when they remember those cautious old market projections which merely showed high double digit revenue growth (CAGR) year after year.

And what's driving this confidence is that their customers have done the pilots- they've done the product tweaks - the biggest customers have finished their cautious rollouts - and they're coming back asking for more than more.

The user mood is changing from - can I afford to use SSDs? - to a realization that - I can't afford not to use SSDs.

The SSD makers are confident - because they can see better than anyone outside the industry - that 2012 is going to be a Kick Ass Year for Enterprise SSDs. Or to put it more politely - 2012 will be the year of the enterprise SSD goldrush.
Legacy vs New Dynasty - the new way of looking at Enterprise SSDs The coach taking passenegers on the wild ride to the all new solid state storage enterprise isn't waiting for faint hearted passengers. It's already well on its way.
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Here are some later articles
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SSD ad - click for more info
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"2012 was the year SSD started moving from niche status into the enterprise mainstream..."
Dani Golan CEO -Kaminario in his blog 2012 Year in Review: SSD Grows Up (December 19, 2012)
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