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SSD ASAP

Auto-tuning SSD Accelerated Pools of storage

SSD news
Who needs SSD ASAPs?
updating 10 key SSD ideas in 2014
What do enterprise SSD users want?
Where are we now with SSD software?
How fast can your SSD run backwards?
exciting new directions in rackmount SSDs
high availability / fault tolerant enterprise SSDs
Why can't SSD's true believers agree about architecture?
meet Ken - and the enterprise SSD software event horizon
.....
now ready - Enmotus's FuzeDrive software

Editor:- November 4, 2014 - Micro-tiering within the server box - between the lowest possible latency persistent memory (such as flash backed DRAM DIMMs from Viking), then up a level to SATA SSDs and finally to hard drives - gives users materially different performance and cost characteristics to merely caching between those devices when they are used in a hybrid storage appliance.

That's the message behind the announcement today by Enmotus about the general availability of the company's FuzeDrive server (SSD software) for Windows and Linux - in which (unlike simple server based cache based solutions) - FuzeDrive treats the SSD as primary storage and so "all reads and writes to the hot data occur at full SSD speeds".

"“Even SSDs are becoming bottlenecks in some cases" said Marshall Lee, CTO and co-founder of Enmotus. "As a result, newer classes of storage devices continue to appear that can take advantage of higher performance busses inside servers, NVDIMMs being a great example.”


Samsung acquires Proximal

Editor:- November 3, 2014 - Samsung announced today it has acquired Proximal Data.

Editor's comments:- Why did Samsung need to acquire another SSD ASAP / caching company?

Samsung's earlier purchase - NVELO (acquired in December 2012) - operated in the consumer market - whereas Proximal's caching technology was designed to work with enterprise PCIe SSDs - a market in which Samsung is a relative newcomer - and in which Samsung stood out from other leading competitors in having no caching software it could call its own.


StorageSearch.com updates 10 key SSD ideas in 2014

Editor:- September 2, 2014 - StorageSearch.com today published a new home page blog - updating 10 key SSD ideas in 2014.

Yeah - I know it's not January 2015 yet - but it already feels like enough big SSD changes have happened this year already to make an end of year type of round up article not only desirable but imperative. ...read the article


And the best buy SSDs shall be the worst (if you change your workloads)

Editor:- August 2, 2014 - An applications optimized SSD system can be the cheapest buy - if you always use it for the original purpose - but it can be a poor choice if you throw the wrong type of applications at it. Enter - the good ole general purpose fast SSD array.

The conflicts are examined in a new blog - Real Flash Storage Systems multi-task! written by Woody Hutsell, IBM who among other things says - "It just so happens that flash appliances with built-in deduplication are the worst choices for database acceleration." ...read the article

The idea that an SSD which is best for one type of use may have the worst characteristics for another - was also examined from an architectural point of view in my classic article - how fast can your SSD run backwards?


what's different about Tegile?

Editor:- June 24, 2014 - Tegile is a relative newcomer to the pages of StorageSearch.com (first SSD news citation in February 2012) and - frankly - I didn't think too much about the company to begin with - but I do now.

You can see the gory details of how and why I recently changed my mind in the new article - an SSD conversation with Tegile.


say hello to CacheIO

Editor:- June 10, 2014 - CacheIO today announced results of a benchmark which is described by their collaborator Orange Silicon Valley (a telco) as - "One of the top tpm benchmark results accelerating low cost iSCSI SATA storage."

CacheIO says that the 2 million tpm benchmark on CacheIO accelerated commodity servers and storage shows that users can deploy its flash cache to accelerate their database performance without replacing or disrupting their existing servers and storage.

Editor's comments:- The only reason I mention this otherwise me-too sounding benchmark is because although I've known about CacheIO and what they've been doing with various organizations in the broadcast and telco markets for over a year - I didn't list them on StorageSearch.com before.

That was partly because they didn't want me to name the customers they were working with at that time - but also because with SSD caching companies becoming almost as numerous as tv stations on a satellite dish - I wanted to wait and see if they would be worth a repeat viewing. (And now I think they they are.)


surge of interest in hybrid SSD arrays

Editor:- June 2, 2014 - Hybrid SSD arrays - which includes auto-tiering / caching and other SSD accelerated pools of storage - became 1 of the top 3 product classifications viewed by StorageSearch.com readers in May. (It's only taken 5 years to get this much attention.)


Oracle acquires GreenBytes

Editor:- May 15, 2014 - Oracle today announced it will acquire GreenBytes.


VMware enters the SSD ASAP 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


Coho Data now shipping 2U MicroArray hybrids

Editor:- March 6, 2014 - Coho Data today announced general availability of its first product - a 2U SSD ASAP called the DataStream (an SSDserver 4/E box) - which integrates PCIe SSDs, hard drives and a server into a web scale expandable unit (using an internal 52 port 10GbE fabric switch) to implement what the company refers to as a "MicroArray" designed with the philosophy of "Turning Tiering Upside Down (pdf)" to deliver a base building block unit of 180K IOPS performance (4KB).

Editor's comments:- you can judge the lofty scale of Coho Data's ambitions by this market soothsayer quote which they integrated in the launch press release - ""By 2017, Web-scale IT will be an architectural approach found operating in 50% of Global 2000 enterprises."

See also:- SSD empowered cloud, SSD hybrid arrays, the enterprise SSD software event horizon


Atlantis enters SSD ASAP market

Editor:- February 11, 2014 - Atlantis Computing today launched the new "In-Memory Storage Technology" release of its storage virtualization software - called Atlantis ILIO USX - which 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)


reviewing Fusion-io's iSCSI hybrid

Editor:- January 1, 2014 - StorageReview.com recently published a report on Fusion-io's ION Data Accelerator software - which is a key ingredient in FIO's ioControl box (iSCSI hybrid rackmount system).

"Rolling the software out on our own server took less than 15 minutes start to finish" said StorageReview.com ...read the article


what changed in SSD year 2013?

Editor:- December 18, 2013 - The important ideas in the SSD market seem to change nearly every year. What changed in SSD year 2013?


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."


Coho Data gets $25 million for 2U SSD ASAPs

Editor:- November 5, 2013 - Coho Data (which recently emerged from stealth mode and operates within the hybrid systems - SSD ASAPs market with a cloud market focus) - today announced it has got $25 million in Series B funding - led by new investor, Ignition Partners, and also including existing investor, Andreessen Horowitz.

The funds will accelerate Coho Data's R&D and go-to-market efforts as the company prepares for general availability of its Coho DataStream system later this year.

Editor's comments:- What I like about Coho Data is the clarity about what it offers:- "Build your own high-performance Amazon-style storage for all your data."

What I'm less gung ho about, however, is the apparent efficiency.

For example - one of the "difference" features which Coho talks about on its website is the easy way that users can scale to multi-petabyte installations - using its 2U building blocks which have Intel PCIe SSDs inside and some hard drives.

The example shown on this Coho page says you can build a 190TB hybrid apps server which does 900K IOPS in 11U of rackspace for $530k list. That may sound good compared to museum grade alternatives - but Coho's solution takes 2x to 3x the rackspace of leading pure SSD HA based systems to do the same thing.

Now - size isn't everything. And neither is scalability. And for many users the ease of managing incremental growth might be compelling reasons to look at this type of product. But most of you pay more per square foot for your floor space than Amazon - so an "Amazon style" product proposition may not be the best for you.


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


Nimble's IPO docs

Editor:- October 18, 2013 - Nimble Storage has filed its FORM S-1 documents for an IPO from which we learn the following things.
  • Nimble has 1,750 end-customers
  • Nimble had $50 million revenue in the 6 months ending July 31 - at which time it also had 464 employees
Editor's comments:- unlike Violin which IPOed recently, Nimble's rackmount systems are primarily caching hybrid arrays. Although this is another very crowded market segment within the enterprise SSD product continuum - Nimble has a clear poistioning message which is - "Our mission is to provide our customers with the industry's most efficient storage platform."

I like that wording - because exactly a year ago in my home page blog here on StorageSearch.com - my theme was Efficiency as internecine SSD competitive advantage.


Fusion-io accelerates shopping in China

Editor:- October 10, 2013 - The largest B2C online shopping site in China - which has 51 million registered users who make an average of 500,000 purchases daily - generating over 100 million pages / day - has improved its Microsoft SQL Server database query response times 9x by accelerating its infrastructure with ioMemory (PCIe SSDs) from Fusion-io - according to a press release yesterday.

According to the linked case study - the customer JD.com - also reduced its server count by 3 to 1, saved money on software licenses and other running costs and also improved operational reliability.


more tiers reduce waste - says Chris M Evans

Editor:- October 2, 2013 - The wastefulness of conventional storage tiering is discussed in a blog - Moving On From Storage Tiering - by Chris M Evans, publisher of Architecting IT - who advocates the concept of having an infinite number of tiers so that - "each server will be closer to receiving the performance level they need."

He goes on to say - "If we can deliver that, move the data between tiers dynamically and fix the wasted capacity issue within each tier, then we have our ultimate storage device." ...read the article

Editor's comments:- The problem with implementing this is that the most economical way to design storage systems is still dependent on the likely speed and capacity characteristics.

People buy products and they have to understand the differences between the products they see in the market. (That job of segmentation is just as important for marketers to implement precisely as the easier bits they spend more time and money on.)

When I analyzed all the different types of SSDs you need in the datacenter - from the architecture and use cases point of view - I got to about 7 different types - which are distinctly different - as described in my SSD silos model - which covers the spectrum from ultrafast RAM to archive solid state storage.

An SSD product which has been optimized for any one of these distinct uses will be uneconomic or less competitive for the other uses.

Therefore I think infinite tiers - as proposed in Chris M Evans's blog - can exist OK as logical concepts in software - but these infinite tiers will still have to map onto a distinct set of no more than maybe 3 to 4 different physical SSD tiers in most customer sites. Otherwise they will be wasteful and too expensive.

In the currently forseeable state of semiconductor memories - the physics and the SSD controller architecture favor designs in which you know in advance what kind of use the memory cell population in each part of your SSD is being optimized for.

Training for a sprint requires a different care conditioning regime to training for a marathon. Although you can switch streams and repurpose cells dynamically - which is what adaptive R/W is all about - this is done within the context of knowing which kind of race the SSD is in from the outset. Running half a marathon fast and then dying due to dehydration is not an attractive product option.


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.


Tegile says its sales exceed its VC funding

Editor:- August 13, 2013 - Tegile Systems today announced the closing of its $35 million Round C funding led by late-stage venture firm Meritech Capital Partners with additional investment by original stakeholder August Capital and strategic partners WD and SanDisk.

Editor's comments:- Tegile says that unlike some other VC funded companies in this market space which have lived mostly on investments Tegile has generated more customer revenue than it has taken in outside financing.


OCZ ships PCIe SSD based SQL accelerator

Editor:- July 23, 2013 - OCZ today announced the general availability of its ZD-XL SQL Accelerator - an SSD ASAP appliance - delivered as a PCIe SSD (600GB, 800GB or 1.6TB) and bundled software - which optimizes caching of SQL Server data in Windows environments - and can provide upto 25x faster database performance.

Editor's comments:- One of the differentiators in SSD caching products is the sophistication of their behavior when viewed from a time basis. This is 1 of the 11 key SSD symmetries - which I call "age symmetry".

In this respect - a key feature of ZD-XL SQL Accelerator is its business-rule pre-warming cache engine and cache warm-up analyzer that monitors SQL Server workloads and automatically pre-loads the cache in advance of critical, demanding or important SQL Server jobs. It achieves this by identifying repeated access patterns that enable DBAs to set periodic time schedules to pre-load the cache.

This product won Best of Show Award at an event called Interop in May.


WD 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.


FlashSoft 3.2

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 software to transform itself into an enterprise SSD heavyweight?


Stec's profiler removes guesswork in sizing SSD caches for hybrid storage pools

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. See also:- will SSDs end bottlenecks - and cure all my server speed worries?


NetApp validates FlashSoft caching

Editor:- April 30, 2013 - SanDisk today announced that its FlashSoft (auto caching) software has been validated for use with NetApp's enterprise storage products.

Editor's comments:- NetApp are pleased that their old fashioned storage arrays can be made to look more sprightly through the correcting lens of server side SSD cache. They've got a video and faqs page about the FlashSoft technology on this page.


Fusion-io enters the iSCSI hybrid array market

Editor:- April 24, 2013 - Fusion-io made 2 significant announcements today.

The 1st of these was anticipated:- FIO's financial results for the quarter ended March 31 - revenue of $88 million (down 27% from the preceding quarter and down 7% from the year ago quarter).

The 2nd of these was the real news - that FIO has acquired another company - NexGen Storage (for $119 million).

NexGen's n5 systems are SSD ASAPs (hybrid caching systems with integrated real-time dedupe and QoS controls for VDI apps) which use Fusion's PCIe SSDs in standard servers with conventional hard drives to deliver fast enough iSCSI hybrid storage for SME and departmental needs in a 3U rack which delivers upto 150K IOPS and 16TB to 192TB raw capacity.

NeGen claims that on a per-U basis their systems deliver 10x more IOPS than HDD arrays, 3x more IOPS / U than conventional hybrid arrays and 3x more GB / U for VDI apps than pure SSD arrays.

These kinds of comparisons always depend on which competitor you're comparing with and when the comparison was done. However - the company has enough customer case studies and independent analysis papers on its site to show that real customers liked the products.

Summing up the 2 stories today?

FIO had already indicated that its revenue from its known biggest customers would decline for a few quarters - so the financial results are not a great surprise. But the NexGen announcement has opened the door to an entirely new type of customer for Fusion-io at the other end of the SSD adoption scale - compared to the well known big customers which have until now dominated FIO's business.

Will it work?

FIO is used to being the leader in the PCIe SSD market which it largely helped to create as a significant new part of the server ecosystem. But it will require a different type of marketing and business development approach to convert the potential of NexGen's technology into an equivalent leading role in the more conservative and crowded iSCSI market.

On the other hand if you add NexGen's hybrid iSCSI IP to the marketing magic of Fusion-io - it's safe to predict that the iSCSI market will soon be getting a wake up call the likes of which it has never seen before.


Intels oems LSI's RAID caching SSD technology

Editor:- April 8, 2013 - Intel - which already uses LSI's SandForce controllers in some SSDs - will oem LSI's dual-core RAID-on-Chip flash caching technology it was announced today.

LSI says their caching technology can double the number of VDI sessions supported in the same sever and flash environment.

"Intel's selection of LSI Nytro MegaRAID technology is another significant validation of our strategic focus and investments in flash-based server acceleration technology," said Gary Smerdon, senior VP and GM, Accelerated Solutions, LSI.


QLogic launches FabricCache PCIe SSD

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

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

Editor's comments:- for a lot more about this - see SSD news.


NetApp and LSI do that "my software loves your SSD" thing

Editor:- March 6, 2013 - LSI today announced that its Nytro WarpDrive (PCIe SSDs) have been validated for use with NetApp's Flash Accel (SSD ASAP) software.



another $24 million funding for 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).


Software - the 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.


Proximal Data - case study

Editor:- January 28, 2013 - Proximal Data today announced details of a new case study (pdf) re the use of its SSD ASAP software (AutoCache ) to trim 30 hours off the monthly SAS analytics report for a financial customer which used to take 36.5 hours.

Editor:- when SSD software companies start talking about real customers - the acquisition press releases follow not long behind based on recent SSD history.


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.


Imation acquires Nexsan

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


OCZ starts beta testing SSD cached Linux accelerator

Editor:- December 17, 2012 - OCZ today has begun a beta test program for its Linux Acceleration (LXL) cache software which the company says can intelligently reduce external traffic by upto 90%. LXL - which supports the company's own enterprise SSDs across a range of interfaces - splits the caching policy engine between the core mechanism running in the Linux kernel and an advanced statistical out-of-band analysis module that optimally determines which data needs to be placed in the local SSD cache. General availability is anticipated to be Q2 next year.


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.


SSD HDD ratios in big data? - blog by Panasas

Editor:- December 11, 2012 - "An important piece of our research involved determining how much SSD capacity customers would need...

" and whether it would make a big enough difference in system performance to be worth the incremental cost of including SSD storage in the system. To do this, we extracted key data from production file systems in the field..." - says Geoffrey Noer, Sr. Director of Product Marketing at Panasas in his recent blog SSDs and parallel storage (part 3) - in which he also says that in HPC workloads users can get good enough results by using as little as 1.5% ratio of SSD to HDD - compared to (read his blog if you want to see the exact ratio) needed for financial and other markets.

Editor's comments:- Although I was told about the earlier episodes in this blog series - which includes an introduction to SSDs - I didn't mention them before - because I assume if you don't already have a good idea of what's an SSD? before you get to these pages - then you won't linger here very long.

Another reason for my earlier reticence about these Panasas blogs - is I think that a description of SSDs written from the viewpoint of an SSD ASAP company whose boxes average over 90% hard drives - may be subtly tilted to a perspective which I consider to be a sideline along the enterprise SSD adoption road rather than the straightest way to the final destination.

Nevertheless - to give credit where it's due - some of the other past blogs I've seen from Panasas have included valuable insights which are storage media agnostic.

I've said to a couple of readers recently (including a Panasas customer) - that if I had to make a list of the last 5 companies on this planet which I thought would still be shipping hard drives in arrays into the enterprise - then Panasas would be one of them. That's because a small group of companies have invested enough talent into new ways of managing large HDD populations in a more effective and efficient way than the small controller architecture of classical RAID systems.

It will be lonely for the HDD array sales guys when that happens - just as it has become quiet in the tape library industry conferences.


Enmotus demonstrates its automated MicroTiering SSD technology

Editor:- November 27, 2012 - Enmotus is demonstrating its auto-tiering software for the first time in public this week at the Server Design Summit.


making history at the US Presidential Debate

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

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


SSDs and boats and planes

Editor:- October 11, 2012 - a recent blog by Pure Storage asks - what's the risk of over promising and under delivering with hybrid storage arrays?

When this blog talks about hybrids the meaning - in this context - is flash and HDD hybrid boxes - not flash and PCM or some other combination of faster and slower SSDs.

Among other things - the article says "...now imagine if you showed up to board your international flight, and they put you on a ship instead?" ...read the article


QLogic signals intention to enter SSD ASAP market

Editor:- September 7, 2012 - QLogic yesterday announced its intention to enter the SSD ASAP market.

The company says its so called Mt. Rainier technology will support industry standard PCIe SSDs and SAS SSDs - and will connect via the company's HBAs and drivers.

The 1st product in this family will connect via traditional Fibre Channel HBA. Details released so far are too vague to make an assessment of how useful or competitive this product will be when it sees the light of day.


FlashMAX is FlashSoft compatible

Editor:- August 27, 2012 - Virident's PCIe SSDs are supported by SanDisk's FlashSoft auto-caching software - it was announced today.

The companies say this collaboration includes sales, joint testing and validation programs, and support and services assistance.

Editor's comments:- the thinking behind SanDisk's strategic decision to support competing SSD hardware with its software was one of the things which I learned in a recent interview with the company.


An Analyst Perspective on SSD Caching vs. Tiering

Editor:- August 23, 2012 - Here's a short note from - Demartek's paper - SSD Caching vs. SSD Tiering – Which Is Better? (pdf) - presented today at the Flash Memory Summit.

"Both caching and tiering are effective at improving enterprise workload performance. Caching is easier to manage - but there are both cache-friendly and cache-unfriendly workloads. Some vendors who started with one are offering the other." ...read the article (pdf)


Nimble expands on scalability

Editor:- August 6, 2012 - "Scalability" - in SSDs and storage - means different things to different people - and this is one of the themes discussed in my SSD symmetries article.

So I was curious to see what Nimble Storage meant by the word "scale" - as it's used more than 30 times in a recent press release from the company about a new range of rackmount SSD ASAPs.

A blog by Nimble's CEO, Suresh Vasudevan yesterday gives a more precise explanation of what they mean - which is in effect - you can scale capacity by adding hard drives or scale performance by adding SSDs - or do a bit of both - "without ever disrupting applications."

Nimble's systems span a much narrower range of performance scalability than you would see across the enterprise environment - so I'm not sure if scalability is the word I would have chosen to describe what they do. "Flexibility and convenient management within a useful application footprint" is probably more accurate - but doesn't sound so hot.


Another $25 million funding for Tintri

Editor:- July 24, 2012 - hybrid NAS rackmount SSD ASAP maker Tintri today announced it has closed a $25 million funding round which brings the company's total capital raised to over $60 million.


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.


Overland enters SSD ASAP market

Editor:- July 11, 2012 - Overland today made its long overdue début into SSD market history with the announcement that it uses SSD auto acceleration in its SnapSAN (iSCSI / FC SAN) hybrid storage racks to get upto 8x faster file performance.


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?


NEVEX offers free trial of $5K value Linux caching software

Editor:- May 29, 2012 - NEVEX says it's offering the 1st 30 people who trial its SSD ASAP / caching software for Linux - the option to keep the production version free.

I spoke a few minutes ago to Nigel Miller, VP Business Development, NEVEX - to test if his phone number is correct - because that's the response mechanism.

I asked how much can some one save by taking up the offer?

He said the regular price will be $5,000 per cached terabyte.

I also said it was unusual in the web industry to have nothing on their web site about this - and he said they wanted a quick and easy way to talk to people. He also said that if you are one of the early responders you will get good access to their technical support people. As time is of the essence here's the number if you're interested:- +1 647-393-2200


60 seconds to make your SSDs accelerate even faster

Editor:- May 8, 2012 - VeloBit today released 1.1 of its SSD caching software for Linux called HyperCache. (VMware and Windows versions are in Beta.

Editor's comments:- I spoke to VeloBit's CEO, Duncan McCallum about the company and the new product.

Like many other SSD ASAP software packages HyperCache ducks the problem of how to manage high availability environments by effectively only caching host reads and bypassing the caching SSD when doing host writes.

Duncan said the software is efficient in its use of host resources. It takes up less than 3% of host server CPU cycles and about 2% of RAM (compared to the capacity of the attached SSD cache).

How is VeloBit's caching software different?

In use - the company says its content locality caching uses the signatures of the data patterns which already are used frequently and have lots of references in order to predict and prioritize the caching of similar looking data. In that respect - the cache manager is learning something which is unique to that apps environment rather than simply caching blocks based on where they are address-wise relative to the current hot data.

In its business model - Duncan said he wanted to make VeloBit's software easy to adopt and install via web marketing. A design goal was to make HyperCache capable of being installed in under 10 minutes. He said the new launch version typically installs in under 60 seconds!

VeloBit has tested their software with SSDs in various form factors from leading companies including OCZ, Fusion-io and Virident.

Duncan commented that when it came to PCIe SSDs - they found their software produced the best results with Virident - which he said produced the fastest SSD caching results of any SSD they had yet tested.

Other aspects of VeloBit's offering (to me) look similar to many other previous SSD software products:- internal compression, write attenuation, real-time dedupe and pricing on a per CPU basis.

With so many companies vying for the same customer share of mind the thing which stands out for me is the 60 seconds install time. Even allowing for a degree of future software bloat - the slowest part about acquiring new SSD ASAP software could soon become typing in your credit card details.


still waiting to learn more about GridIron's SSDs?

Editor:- April 24, 2012 - GridIron Systems yesterday announced that it is approaching petabyte scale FC SAN SSD capability with its OneAppliance auto-tiering product family which will be shipping next month.

Building blocks include:-
  • FlashCube (1 million IOPS, 10GB/s R/W, upto 100TB)
  • iNode (40 core TB RAM with 100TB flash)
  • RackPack (40 server system with 4 million IOPS, 40GB/s bandwidth and 250TB of Flash
Editor's comments:- I took the unusual step (for me) of registering with GridIron's website so I could read the product details. I had asked the company last December to remove this anti-informational inquiry process - but the barrier is still in place. Today it took far too many many minutes for their web site to come back with a message saying that I could now be allowed to read their datasheets. But by then I had used up my time budget.

GridIron's blogs suggest that because their systems are so fast - you'll get better results using their racks for big data analytics instead of other SSDs - and in particular PCIe SSDs like those from Fusion-io, OCZ and LSI.

Are you going to wait 5 minutes or more on their web site to get information which you should be able to see immediately so you can decide how credible is their claim that they can save you time and money with their proprietary solution?

Someone should tell their VCs that this company is still in stealth mode when it comes to web based communications.

And SSD racks versus PCIe SSDs is a flawed analysis anyway. Most enterprises will need and use both.

...Later:- April 28, 2012 - GridIron's CTO, Som Sikdar responded to my criticism above and said the company is sorry and will review and improve the information accessibility on its website. And a few days later - the log-in wall was removed.


Diverse views emerge on SSD caching / tiering video

Editor:- April 26, 2012 - In a 50 minutes panel discussion YouTube is SSD simply a big cache or a real storage tier? - moderated by Chris Evans, editor of the Storage Architect.

Participating in this discussion on SSD ASAPs were representatives from EMC, STEC, Nimble Storage, Velobit, SolidFire and Virident.

The discussion ranged from - where's the best place to put SSDs? and which agency should determine where to put the hot data? The app or the storage system? Here are just some of the ideas expressed in the talk.

Caching is best because it's simple to deploy and scale - and you don't have to bet your career or your business future if it goes wrong - (and discover new bottlenecks which you didn't know about before).

Caching is a short term fix. SSD is a tier.

You need both caching and tiering.

SSDs provide new possibilities which means maybe the SSD shouldn't be hidden by caching - but remain visible to SSD specific APIs.

You don't see any of the big HDD storage box makers in the biggest customer data centers like Amazon, Google and FaceBook. The HDD isn't a datacenter device anymore - hard drives just live in the cloud.

See also:- the SSD Heresies


VeloBit readies for SSD ASAP software launch

Editor:- April 9, 2012 - in the run up to to launching its HyperCache product line (SSD ASAP software) - VeloBit today announced the appointment of Mike LaPeters as VP of Sales.

"SSD adoption in the enterprise has been stalled by the cost and complexity of deploying SSD" said Mike LaPeters. "VeloBit offers a non-disruptive, cost-effective means to scale IT performance. I look forward to using my experience from working with thousands of storage customers to help companies quickly, easily and inexpensively deploy SSD."


Dataram monetizes SSD ASAP IP while retaining XcelaSAN

Editor:- April 4, 2012 - Dataram today announced it has sold its patents portfolio related to solid state storage and SSD ASAPs for $5 million to Phan Tia Group.

Dataram retains a license to continue to use the patents in current and future Dataram products including XcelaSAN with limited rights to transfer its license. ipCapital Group assisted in patent valuation, and supported Dataram on the negotiation and successful close of this transaction.

"This transaction represents an exceptional opportunity to fund new growth initiatives while at the same time it protects our current product portfolio" said John Freeman, Dataram President and CEO. "The license granted to Dataram under this Agreement will also allow us to market, develop and sell XcelaSAN as well as other existing and new Dataram products that incorporate the technology based on these patents. They are all protected under the Patent Purchase Agreement."

Editor's comments:- this is a good deal for Dataram. This way they retain their stake in the high availability FC SAN RAM end of the SSD ASAP market - and get some cash to pursue growth ideas.

The XcelaSAN has been aimed at niche segments in the enterprise SSD market - but could take off in new directions with the appopriate marketing investment.

Dataram probably understands what they have to do to get business there better than anyone else - because they've been working hard to learn what the early adopters in this market want for over 2 years and have been applying that feedback into product tweaks and clearer customer messages.

To many readers the sum of money mentioned in this news story sounds small - compared to the tens and hundreds of million dollar sums often bandied about in SSD VC stories. But Dataram is a very conservatively managed company and they get a lot done for what seems to other SSD oems like loose change.


Texas Memory Systems introduces fast-enough PCIe SSD in ASAP bundle

Editor:- March 27, 2012 - Texas Memory Systems has introduced a new fast-enough MLC PCIe SSD into its product line as part of an SSD ASAP / caching bundle which includes software from NEVEX

The new RamSan-80 eMLC PCIe SSD provides 450GB usable capacity, 700 MB/s throughput and 80K / 170K R/W IOPS.

Editor's comments:- this new product from TMS is aimed at a different market to those which the company traditionally focused on with its "world's fastest storage". The company's new eMLC PCIe SSD - which is only available as part of this new SSD ASAP bundle - enables TMS to reach down to price points which are significantly lower than anything it has ever done before - with a product that's easy for users to deploy to get apps speedups in Windows SAN and NAS environments.


Drobo's new SSD ASAP uses SAS SSDs from OCZ

Editor:- March 8, 2012 - OCZ announced that its Talos SSDs (3.5" SAS SSDs) will be used in Drobo's new B1200i range of iSCSI auto-tiering systems (SSD ASAPs).

This is Drobo's first product to leverage the benefits of SSDs.

"Just like larger organisations, SMEs should be able to afford and enjoy the benefits of SSD technology and performance," said Tom Buiocchi, CEO of Drobo. "For the best capacity and performance, our unique automated data-aware tiering allows customers to easily and affordably add SSDs to the same Drobo environment that already has high-capacity traditional disk drives."


SanDisk acquires FlashSoft

Editor:- February 15, 2012 - SanDisk today announced it has acquired FlashSoft - one of the leading independent software vendors in the SSD ASAPs market.


Tegile enters the SSD ASAP market

Editor:- February 14, 2012 - Tegile announced general availability of its Zebi hybrid storage arrays - which are rackmount SSD ASAPs with internal hard drives and integrated dedupe, compression and snapshot.


NEVEX CacheWorks supports RamSan flash

Editor:- February 8, 2012 - NEVEX today announced that its CacheWorks for Windows Server has been tested and optimized for performance with the new generation of flash SSDs from Texas Memory Systems - in particular the RamSan-70 (a PCIe SSD) and the RamSan-810 (a 1U rackmount SSD).

Editor's comments:- In 2010 I wrote about the sometimes confusing brand stretch of "RamSan" - as even back then 70% of the SSDs that TMS sold were flash rather RAM - and PCIe was a sizable chunk of the product line mix too.

This software support from NEVEX fills a key functional gap (SSD ASAP) in the TMS route to market.

It's important for NEVEX too.

TMS has been selling enterprise SSDs longer than any other company. But unlike some competing PCIe SSD companies (Fusion-io, OCZ, STEC and Micron) which have all acquired their own SSD software IP in the past year (thereby obsoleting most 3rd party caching/tiering development investments) - Texas Memory Systems is still focused on hardware design. Nevertheless - while I'm confident that acquiring an ISV isn't on TMS's wish list - the company itself recently announced it would look positively on a suitable potential acquirer. So nothing is as certain as it seems.


will rental break through the uncertainty barrier for SSD ASAPs?

Editor:- January 26, 2012 - One of the business development obstacles facing enterprise SSD ASAP / caching vendors in the past few years has been that users have mostly thought of them as being HDD array accelerators.

And even if a user is interested right now - and even if they are happy with their try before you buy results - they often hold off making a purchase - because they think (after reading web sites like this one) that one day they'll be ripping out their rotating RAID systems and replacing them with SSDs - so it might be silly to buy an SSD cache applaince right now.

Now in reality - most users won't replace their entire HDD storage as quickly as they might like to think - and ASAPs do have a permanent role in the pure SSD datacenter too. Some vendors' marketing materials talk about that - while others are still harping on about hard disks and the "superiority" of SSD - even when their technology roadmap works just as well for SSD.

Seemingly breaking through the user indecision barrier - Dataram today published a customer story about their "no long term commitment" - Acceleration on Demand - leasing program. It sounds like a good idea - but I don't know the exact terms and conditions involved.


OCZ acquires SANRAD

Editor:- January 10, 2012 - OCZ yesterday announced it has acquired SANRAD for $15 million.

"SANRAD's software is a wonderful complement to OCZ's Flash technology," said Oded Ilan, CEO of SANRAD Inc. "We are excited with the opportunity created by this unique combination between storage virtualization, caching and PCIe Flash storage."

Editor's comments:- this makes the 4th SSD IP or company acquisition that OCZ has done that I've written about on these pages. 3 out of the 4 have aimed squarely at the enterprise SSD market.

SSD software will be a powerful sales and business growth accelerator for PCIe SSD companies in 2012 - as it will open up new market opportunities much faster than previously possible with human engineering assets. Put simply - it's let the software solve the problem of integrating the SSD. It's more than simply auto-tiering - but that's an important enabling tool as well.

SANRAD was also the 1st company to ship front loadable PCIe SSD modules BTW.


the New Business Case for SSD ASAPs

Editor:- December 6, 2011 - StorageSearch.com today published a new article - the New Business Case for SSD ASAPs .

What's an SSD ASAP? - When I use this term it includes:-
  • auto-tiering SSD appliances
  • SSD cache - the automatic kind
  • SSD acceleration As Soon As Possible
  • Auto-tuning SSD Accelerated Pools of storage
  • combinations of the above
It's going to be a huge market. SSD ASAPs are 1 of the 6 main SSD product types that will be around in the pure solid state storage datacenter of the future in the 2016 to 2020 timeframe.

The word "new" in the title is deliberate. It replaces an article I wrote about SSD ASAPs when the market started in 2009.

Since then - my thinking - and that of key players in the market has developed. This should no longer just be regarded as a tactical market to bring the advantages of SSD acceleration to legacy hard drive arrays. ASAPs are an essential interface between different levels of SSD storage. ...read the article


analyzer suite could speed up auto-tiering SSD evaluations

Editor:- November 29, 2011 - hyperI/O today announced availability of its Disk I/O Ranger software analysis tool for Windows environments.

The company says this will help users diagnose and understand disk storage access performance problems and to to verify that QoS levels are being met at the application/file/device level. It could also simplify the evaluation of auto-tiering SSD appliances by collecting real-time metrics.

Editor's comments:- I asked Tom West, President of hyperI/O what he was seeing of the SSD market from his perspective of selling storage analysis tools. He said -"One of the major users of the hIOmon software is listed within the top 10 of your latest - Top 20 SSD Companies."


NexGen enters iSCSI auto-tiering SSD ASAP market

Editor:- November 8, 2011 - NexGen emerged from stealth mode and announced general availability of its first product - the n5 - a 3U iSCSI auto-tiering and real-time compression appliance - which internally leverages 48GB RAM cache, 1.3TB PCIe SSD and 32TB raw SAS HDD capacity to deliver 120TB RAID protected usable fast virtual storage with adjustable performance QoS for every volume.


Satisfying apps speedup hunger without expensive SSD write caching

Editor:- October 19, 2011 - Read caching can lift the glass ceiling on write caching - as much as 3x. That's one of the unexpected twists revealed in a new blog by Gary Orenstein VP of Products at Fusion-io.

What are the practical applications of this? - Gary gives several examples - like greatly simplified data replication / protection. But that's not the only trick in the SSD toolkit. To demonstrate how this can be leveraged Gary shows readers a graph which shows a 10x write speedup obtained when using FIO's PCIe SSDs as read caches - managed by their IO Turbine SSD ASAP software - in a server attached to a storage array from NetApp.

Editor's comments:- providing fail safe data replication within the low latency of an SSD acceleration environment is a non trivial problem - discussed in an earlier blog by Woody Hutsell (who now works for Gary - see SSD news).

That complexity is why you pay more for SSD solutions which include write replication (like Violin, Kaminario, Huawei Symantec and Dataram) - the extra cost appearing in both the invoice and accrued latency.

The new blog by Gary Orenstein says - in effect - that you don't have to go all the way to full à la cartre R/W SSD caching to get a satisfying meal of the day apps speedup. ...read the article


NEVEX launches SSD ASAP software for Windows Server

Editor:- October 11, 2011 - NEVEX today launched its first product - an auto-tiering / SSD ASAP software cache for Windows Server, VMware, Hyper-V priced at $2,495 per physical server .

CacheWorks' selective cache optimization technology empowers administrators by providing flexible control to accelerate specific data by application, file type, and location to deliver typical speedups of 3x - according to customer quotes in their launch press release (pdf).


GridIron's fat flash stirs ASAP caffeine sooner to beat weekly peaky loads

Editor:- September 29, 2011 - GridIron Systems today announced general availability of its TurboCharger - an FC SAN fat flash SSD ASAP / auto-tiering cache - which has low latency (tens of microseconds) and is intended to be used in what the company calls "Big data" installations.

Editor's comments:- Although conceptually similar to Dataram's 2 year old XcelaSAN - GridIron's product is scaled to work with much bigger storage capacities - and includes more dedicated silicon.

Also - unlike most other caches - GridIron says its hot data stores and recognizes peaking data patterns over many days - and not just short term real-time data spikes. That makes it better able to react more quickly to cyclical business demands - such as time of day, day of the week, start/end of month etc - without having to relearn them. So the acceleration will kick in faster.

This is an example of good "age symmetry". See also:- how fast can your SSD run backwards? 11 Key Symmetries in SSD design


Dell will distribute Dataram's auto tiering SSD

Editor:- September 22, 2011 - Dataram announced that Dell OEM Solutions will manufacture, provide hardware customization, distribute and support Dataram's FC SAN compatible auto-tiering / SSD ASAP - the XcelaSAN from November 2011.

Editor's comments:- Since Dataram launched the XcelaSAN 2 years ago it has fixed perceived gaps in its failover characteristics and established some impressive customer reference sites. But sales have been slow.

Part of the problem has been that this product is aimed at users who don't have the technical resources within their workgroups to tune vanilla SSD accelerators in SANs because of the many complex data architecture decisions which then arise. That's why they need auto-tiering.

But without internal safety nets these ideal potential customers have to be absolutely confident that it works and will be supported. This deal with Dell goes a long way to doing that - and will tip the balance for many who liked the idea but needed the reassurance that a 3rd party heavyweight company has looked at the design and is prepared to support it.


SANRAD enters the SSD ASAP market

Editor:- September 20, 2011 - SANRAD has entered the auto-tiering SSD / SSD ASAPs market with the launch of its new VXL software which supports its family of FC and GbE unified storage network routers.

"Many organizations are adding flash resources to their virtual server environments but aren't able to use them efficiently," says Dr Allon Cohen, SANRAD's VP Marketing. "By combining our software with their infrastructure, they instantly have faster access, more secure data, and resilience."

Editor's comments:- the thinking behind SANRAD's acceleration architecture is described in this white paper - Where to put your flash SSD accelerators - for best enterprise results (pdf)


will OCZ's new hybrid PCIe SSD be a market game changer?

Editor:- September 1, 2011 - OCZ yesterday launched a hybrid PCIe SSD - the RevoDrive Hybrid - which integrates 100GB SSD capacity along with an onboard terabyte HDD and SSD ASAP / auto hot spot cache tuning controller capable of 910MB/s peak throughput and upto 120,000 random write IOPS (4K) - all for an MSRP under $500.

"The RevoDrive Hybrid leverages the best attributes of both solid state drives and traditional hard drive technology to deliver dynamic data-tiering on a single easy to deploy PCIe storage drive," said Ryan Petersen, CEO of OCZ.

Editor's comments:- although many oems have tried to make a success of all in one SSD-HDD hybrid drives - the hybrids which have come to market in the past 6 years have mostly been failures ...read more analysis on main SSD news page


Fusion-io acquires SSD ASAP software company

Editor:- August 4, 2011 - Fusion-io announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire IO Turbine for approximately $95 million.

David Flynn, Chairman and CEO of Fusion-io. "We believe integrating ioMemory and IO Turbine adds a critical and previously missing performance component to virtualized IT environments that will accelerate the adoption of Fusion-io technology. This acquisition also underscores our focus on providing customers with an enterprise solution that features software and hardware components designed to accelerate their business' full suite of applications."

Fusion-io also reported revenue of $72 million for the fiscal fourth quarter of 2011, more than 6x as much as the year ago quarter in 2010 and up 7% from from the prior quarter.

Editor's comments:- these are the first financial results reported by Fusion-io since it became a publicly listed company. The results - and the company's decision to acquire an SSD ASAP software company together confirm and validate the company's strong showing in our predictive top 10 SSD companies list in recent years. The SSD market has become a serious business - and is no longer just about how cleverly a bunch of electronics guys can tame a bunch of unruly memory chips and make them play hard drive tricks.


FlashSoft launches software to unleash the power of enterprise flash

Editor:- June 28, 2011 - FlashSoft today announced it has secured $3 million Series A funding and has launched its first product - software which enables enterprise flash to be used as a cost-effective, server-tier computing resource (ASAP functionality in software) which is available for free evaluation through a 30-day "Try Before You Buy" program.

Editor's comments:- FlashSoft says its software (which runs on Windows Server - Linux is in beta) works with any flash SSDs upto 1TB, and takes approx 5% CPU utilization and 100MB of core RAM. I asked

How many physical SSDs does the software support?

The number of SSDs is not limited, as long as they can be represented as a single logical volume, eg. through a RAID.

Is the 1TB limit shown on your site the limit for the setof SSDs or just for each drive?

The 1TB limit is the current logical limit for the SSD used for caching. The data set is typically 5x greater (or more) than the cache. The size restriction is an artifact of early development, and in a near-future release, there will be no restriction on the size of the SSD employed.

In the case of sudden power loss – what are the steps taken to protect the state of the cached data and update the external storage?

FlashSoft employs a method called multi-level metadata management, which stores some cache metadata in RAM, but most of it on the SSD itself (and employs a balanced tree design for optimal efficiency). There are two benefits to this design: first, it minimizes utilization of server memory. Only the hottest metadata runs in server memory. The rest is cached in SSD. Also, the application regularly creates snapshots of the metadata on the SSD, so that in the event of a server crash, the cache metadata can be re-created from the snapshots + most recent metadata almost immediately. Typical recovery is less than a second. (Keep in mind, our team's background is at Veritas, Oracle, Symantec, etc. so data recovery is a top priority for the product design.)


virtual server acceleration mistakes

Editor:- June 21. 2011 - 5 Mistakes to Avoid when trying to solve I/O Bottlenecks in Virtualized Servers is a new article by IO Turbine published on StorageSearch.com.

Needless to say most of the discussion in here revolves around the best use of SSDs. Among other things - IO Turbine says "While many enterprise-class storage providers offer automatic tiering with data migration to and from the SSD storage, these solutions typically take place well after the need for the I/O acceleration has passed." ...read the article


Dataram delivers 24x speedup for telco

Editor:- May 5, 2011 - Dataram has started to say more about the speedup ratios that customers are seeing with its XcelaSAN (the industry's first SSD ASAP).

One of my 11 SSD predictions for 2011 was that SSD marketers would start to talk the language of xN speedups for common apps or customer groups rather than simply tossing around native IOPS and throughput numbers.

"We knew from the outset that XcelaSAN would deliver unbeatable value and performance to our customers, and we are now seeing proof of the many financial and business benefits that all our users are receiving." said John Freeman, President and CEO of Dataram. "We are very pleased to find that our customers can now do more at lower CapEx and OpEx, while extending the usable life of their equipment in a wide range of business environments."


Marvell flies a kite for DragonFly accelerator

Editor:- April 4, 2011 - Marvell today unveiled a PCIe compatible SSD ASAP.

Marvell claims 10x speedups can be realized using its new DragonFly Virtual Storage Accelerator - which is designed to reduce write amplification to external storage arrays and acts as an OS agnostic multiprotocol storage cache for NAS, SAN or DAS storage arrays. The product - is expected to sample in Q3.

Editor's comments:- more than 20 companies have launched similarly impressive sounding accelerators in the past 2 years in form factors ranging from cards to racks. Based on the track record of the SSD industry in this particular segment I think it would be realistic for users to think about a timescale which is more like another year than another quarter before application software issues are resolved in this new product - and the speedup ratio quoted may or may not be sustainable too.


Xiotech enters ASAP market

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

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


ASAPs will still be needed after hard drives have gone

Editor:- January 21, 2011 - today a reader asked a good question about the SSD ASAP market - effectively asking if I thought some vendors might have missed an opportunity here - because of how long it was taking to get customers to accept them.

When the first ASAPs came to market in 2009 - I commented that the clock was ticking - because I didn't see the need for this type of product once enterprises transitioned to a pure SSD environment in the dataceneter.

I was glad to get the email because I have revised my thoughts about this. Here's the text below from the reply I sent this morning.

I've been revising and updating my long range SSD market model recently - some parts of which appeared in this article last year.

Something which comes out of filling in the details is that I was wrong to say that SSD ASAPs will have a limited market life. When the datacenter transitions to a 100% solid state storage in the 2015 to 2019 period - there will be an even bigger need for automatic tiering technology between the 3 levels of SSDs in the new storage architecture described in the petabyte SSD article.

That's because the difference in latency between the fastest SSDs and the slowest (bulk storage SSDs) will be bigger than the ratio between hard drives and cartridges in a tape library. That means the best performing ASAPs will still find a place in the market - long after I originally expected.

I initially thought the need would disappear in an environment which was 100% solid state storage. In some apps that will be true. But in bigger enterprises complexity and economic realities mean that tiering - between different classes of SSD storage - will still be necessary.


Alacritech enters SSD ASAP market

Editor:- January 11, 2011 - Alacritech launched the ANX 1500 ($70,000 base price) - a 2U fat flash SSD ASAP optimized for the NAS market - which the company claims can deliver 120,000 NFS OPS when configured with 48GB of DRAM and up to 4TB flash SSD.


Demartek tests LSI's CacheCade

Editor:- November 2, 2010 - Demartek has published a sponsored test report (pdf) which compares the performance of SSDs and HDDs in a simulated web server environment when managed by LSI's CacheCade software - which provides SSD ASAP functionality.

Editor's commnents:- The report shows that throughput and access times were improved by at least 3x using a single SSD cache compared to the HDD only situation.

However - it's disappointing that the sizing of the test was not best chosen to draw meaningful conclusions. Because the web content was only 25% larger than the SSD capacity! It would have been more helpful to design a simulated case in which there was at least a 10x or 100x size difference. Because if you can fit all the web content onto an SSD then you don't need the burden of the "cache" software at all - and might get better results by switching it off.

There are case studies going back nearly 10 years which show that SSDs can provide big speedups in web servers. The exact speedup depends on how fast the SSD is. This test report doesn't answer the question - is LSI's CacheCade useful in a realistically scaled environment?


NVELO launches notebook SSD ASAP

Editor:- August 17, 2010 - NVELO launched Dataplex - a software product aimed at PC oems - which provides SSD ASAP functionality inside a notebook.

Since Dataplex works with off-the-shelf storage devices, PC OEMs and consumers have complete freedom to choose any SSD and any HDD, from any vendor.

"Consumers love the idea of SSD performance, but there is still a huge (price) gap between HDDs at $0.20/GB and SSDs at $2.00/GB; as an HDD replacement, the economics simply don't work for all but a very small percentage of the market," said David Lin, VP of product management at NVELO. "With Dataplex, we are making SSD performance economically feasible for a much larger market by using the strengths of SSD and HDD technology together. And we're not talking about simply installing the OS and whatever applications can fit onto a small SSD. Dataplex learns user behavior, and intelligently caches all important data and applications in an SSD device while maintaining the full capacity of the HDD for storage."

Dataplex will begin shipping from select Tier 1 PC OEMs in 2011. NVELO is currently in discussions with leading HDD and SSD vendors to enable aftermarket sales and bundling options for Dataplex, and has begun development of an enterprise version of Dataplex for server systems.

Editor's comments:- if successful - NVELO's product will render obsolete most hybrid drives aimed at the notebook market. In the server ASAP market - it's a direct competitor to the unloved MaxIQ SSD Cache Performance Kit created by Microsoft, taken to market by Adaptec - and now owned by PMC-Sierra.


Nimble Storage enters the ASAP market

Editor:- July 15, 2010 - Nimble Storage announced the release of the Nimble CS-Series an iSCSI compatible SSD ASAP which has been optimized for backup and compression performance.

The model CS240 has 18TB of primary storage and 216TB backup. At launch pricing was under $3/GB (usable) for primary storage and $0.25/GB for backup storage.


Nexenta streams online tv

Editor:- May 20, 2010 - Nexenta Systems announced that its products (which include SSD ASAP features) are being used by the Dutch Public Broadcasting Agency NPO for storing and delivering online tv in a configuration which includes 192TB of hard disk drives and a 1.9TB SSD read cache.

The broadcaster's website has approximately 80TB of video available to online users who want to watch previously broadcasted television programs. During an average evening, between 10 and 20,000 people stream data, adding up to 25GB in capacity. The customer (who evaluated multiple vendors ) says that important selection criteria were:- performance, price, support and power consumption.


PMC-Sierra acquires Adaptec's SSD ASAP and RAID business

Editor:- May 10, 2010 - PMC-Sierra announced a definitive agreement to acquire Adaptec's channel storage business for approximately $34 million in cash.

This deal includes Adaptec's RAID storage product line, its global VAR customer base, board logistics capabilities, and SSD cache performance solutions.

Editor's comments:- I had heard that Adaptec's storage business was up for sale a few months ago.

In my storage market outlook 2010 to 2015 article - published last year - I explained why I thought that the RAID controller market couldn't stay as it was.

These companies have to get into offering complete SSD solutions in the long term. In the short term PMC-Sierra may be able to do a better job aggregating a bigger percentage of whatever remains of the untied RAID controller business.

I expect the RAID business (for hard disks) will eventually become a consumer / SMB market - while the enterprise storage array part of this market will morph through an SSD ASAP phase - while users struggle to redefine new storage architectures for the datacenter.


StorSimple fills "missing link" in cloud storage DNA

Editor:- May 4, 2010 - StorSimple has exited stealth mode - announcing a bunch of collaborative customer supply agreements - and disclosing info about its Armada storage appliance - which is designed to reduce the cost and simplify the integration of cloud storage within datacenter applications and infrastructure.

Editor's comments:- Just as application specific SSDs are the future for the SSD market - StorSimple's Armada system can be regarded as an application specific SSD ASAP which includes features such as real-time dedupe and cloud data encryption.

The simplest way to think about it is as "the missing link" between the promise of cloud storage and its practicality. The companies which have agreed to be named in StorSimple's company launch press release (Amazon, AT&T, EMC, Iron Mountain, and Microsoft) seem to think it's a noteworthy part of cloud storage DNA too.


GreenBytes unveils 1U dedupe ASAP

Editor:- March 29, 2010 - GreenBytes today unveiled the GB-1000 (under $10,000) a 1U 4TB SSD accelerated dedupe appliance which supports simultaneous SAN and NAS deployments.

Ingest and restore performance is stated as 0.54TB/hr.


Adaptec's SSD seed corn came from Microsoft

Editor:- March 25, 2010 - in yet another simulated benchmark published today related to Adaptec's SSD ASAP caching technology - which they leverage in their MaxIQ SSD product - I learned that the underlying technology was originally developed by (surprise! surprise!) - Microsoft.

"When our datacenter team came up with some innovative ideas around using solid state devices as read caching devices, we determined it made good sense to license these advances to Adaptec because Microsoft itself doesn't sell these types of products," said David Kaefer, GM of Intellectual Property Licensing at Microsoft. "By collaborating through licensing, Adaptec customers benefit from a product that delivers impressive performance and cost savings over alternatives in the market."
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SSDs  ASAP Terrorbyte didn't know where he was going. But he wanted to get there as fast as possible.
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StorageSearch.com invented the term "ASAPs" (Auto-tuning SSD Accelerated Pools of storage) in 2009 - to describe a new class of auto-caching, auto-tiering and performance tuning SSD appliances and software which leverage hybrid pools of storage drives.

These automated and integrated solutions replaced earlier (engineer intensive) manual hot spot tuning methods.

The SSD ASAP acronym also works as a collective technology description for technologies which deliver SSD acceleration As Soon As Possible - to legacy heterogenous storage installations.
Need SSD Acceleration ASAP? - Say "hello" to SSD ASAPs (includes a partial list of vendors)
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"Across the whole enterprise - a single petabyte of SSD with new software could replace 10 to 50 petabytes of raw legacy HDD storage and still enable all the apps to run much faster while being hosted on a shrunken population of SSD enhanced servers."
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SSD ad - click for more info










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image shows  Spellabyte's software factory

Where are we now with that SSD software?










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SSD ad - click for more info










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"Thanks for the offer, but...
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This classic article described the pivotal future storage market climate in which enterprise users will cease to regard hard drive arrays attractive or usable - even if the cost of buying a new hard drive array drops away to ZERO! - this way to the petabyte SSD










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ioControl Hybrid Storage Rack image  - from Fusion-io  - click for more info
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ioControl - iSCSI Hybrid Storage
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"The enterprise SSD market is complicated enough already and users will steer towards a simple set of standard product types which meet universal needs and which can be almost seamlessly replaced by similar products from competing vendors - without re-engineering the user's legacy SSD architecture."
7 Silos which classify where all SSDs will fit in the pure SSD datacenter










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Raw "speed" is no longer the same guarantee to market success within SSDs as it once used to be. Nevertheless - this article remains popular.
the Fastest SSDs










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Software used to be SSD's enemy.
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Survivor's Guide to Enterprise SSDs










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products from SSD market history
click for more info about the revolutionary auto tuning XcelaSAN SSD accelerator from Dataram
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Nowadays there are many companies in the auto-caching enterprise SSD market. But the first systems product was the XcelaSAN - launched in September 2009.

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