what to tell your
VC, lawyer, and non
technical friends who don't work in the computer industry|
by Zsolt Kerekes,
editor - published June 21, 2010
|You've all heard about
talk about them. I've written
a few myself.
But what is all the fuss and excitement about?
This article gives
you a simple summary of what you need to know. I've tried to make it as non
technical as I can. (Really.)
SSDs are electronic modules which work
with computer systems. You don't need to know
how they work. You
just need to know what they can do.
- what can SSDs do for
SSDs can speed up nearly all server applications by 3x.
the speedup can be as much as 40x.
These speedups can be achieved at the same time as using less
servers, less space, less power and lower cost than using traditional (rotating
hard disk) technology.
If you consider that processor clock speeds only grew about 4x in the
past decade - and hard disk storage speeds didn't increase at all - then using
SSDs is like leaping your server performance 10 years forwards in time
in a single day!
Is there more?
- what can SSDs do for
SSDs can significantly speed up notebooks, make them lighter and
increase battery life.
This non trivial result requires a good
SSD-aware design. Unfortunately there are no true SSD notebook paragons yet.
Nearly all current notebooks were designed originally for hard drives and have
been adapted for SSDs. Imperfect SSD notebooks can deliver some improvements -
but not as many as native SSD designs. And I include the OS as part of the
The OS plays a bigger factor in notebooks than in servers -
because server economics enable designers the luxury of packing more CPU power
in the SSD controller - and the best server SSD solutions tend to be
heterogeneous or OS-agnostic.
brevity I've just mentioned 2 headline applications for SSDs which work now.
There are 5 categories described in StorageSearch.com's
adoption model (published in 2005) - 4 of which already exist now and
another recent addition - which is an emerging new category.
|what about SSD's future?|
mentioned above what SSDs can do today in products which are familiar. And for
most of you - that's all you need to know.
But SSDs are a disruptive
technology which will change the landscape of the future computer market and
create a new technology bubble with new market leaders.
past bubbles include the microprocessor
(mid 1970s) the
(early 1980s) the
parallel servers which was an enabling technology for the affordability of
internet (mid 1990s).
SSDs will change the way computer products
are designed - so that by 2015 nearly all products will be designed to be
SSD-centric - instead of HDD-centric as they have been for
over 50 years.
the future - SSDs will enable new markets and applications which do not yet
exist. SSDs will enable a new class of data leveraging applications which
create value from
datasets in ways which were impossible with the limitations of past servers
and storage systems. The impact of these new markets will be as significant as
the impact of search-engines has been to the utility of the web.
what's the business impact of SSDs?
markets have the potential to grow big fast - there's a
bubble effect which
is fueled by
- greed - the desire to make money and
a look at these numbers - which show the number of SSD manufacturers
listed on StorageSearch.com
- fear - the fear of becoming irrelevant by not participating in a
new market which may have an important impact on the business you're already in
- 1998 - 10 companies
- 2005 - 30 companies
- 2007 - 63
- 2008 - 92
- 2010 - 200 plus companies
- 2013 - 1,000 plus companies - forecast extrapolated from internal market
models (Later correction:- seen from the perspective of January 2014 - I
estimate there were about 600 SSD companies plus another 100 or so in the
ecosystem for whom SSD chips or SSD software were becoming an important part of
their business. There may have been more - but it was a futile process trying to
count them all - as many of them weren't doing anything significantly
SSD annual revenue - (StorageSearch.com estimates) - for more
revenue data see
was the 1st storage market
analyst to raise my head above the parapet and say that SSDs had the
capability to grow to be a $10 billion / year market and I published a
catalytic report to that effect in 2003.
The initial reactions from
SSD company founders and marketing VPs were incredulity and surprise.
But after talking to most of the leading companies in the market at that time
(and some future SSD market leaders who were still in stealth mode) many SSD
oem thought leaders I spoke to - who previously had thought about the SSD
market only within the context of their own isolated market silos realized
that things could change dramatically to the upside and revised their own
plans accordingly and thereby lit the match to fire up the business and product
development engines that began to transform the SSD market from its previous
quiet obscurity to today's frenetic revolution.
I warned everyone
at the start - that the cozy old ways of SSD marketing would change too - and
that a bigger market would also mean a tougher more competitive market in which
marketing would become more important. Some understood that - adapted and
thrived - others did not and have dwindled into obscurity or disappeared.
As we progress from where we are now to
where I think the market is heading there will be
- excitement - the thrill of being able to do things with
computers for the 1st time which were previously impossible, slow or out of
reach to most budgets. That ranges from faster computer games for kids, to the
making of new companies - like the next Intel, Microsoft, Sun and Google.
- vendor pain - hundreds of companies will crash and burn (VC funded
SSD companies which get it wrong) or fade quietly into a less frenetic
retirement (storage makers, chip makers, OS designers and others who were
leaders in HDD technology generations - but who fail to transition to the new
SSD data driven economy).
this point I realize that yet another promise of a "short article" has
failed. But I hope you get the general idea. If you found parts of it useful -
tell your friends and colleagues to see it themselves.
- user pain - those who bought an SSD which needed needed
upgrades to make it
work, those whose SSDs trashed
their data or failed before their alloted time, those who had a great
experience from their 1st generation SSD and then forgot to be careful and had
a terrible time when
they switched to a cheaper alternative supplier, those who thought they were
buying from a safe proven company - only to realize that they were an
unsuspecting beta site for a new technology disguised in an old brand.
hundreds more articles about SSDs already on this site - ranging from
comments about individual companies - new product launches - technologies and
details of how to design new SSDs - and a lot more to come.
taking the time to read StorageSearch.com - "leading the way to the new
My next SSD article will be
called - Branding
Strategies in the SSD Market.
As the marketing girl in
the Hitchhikers Guide to the
Galaxy said - re the development of the wheel - "Alright, Mr.
Wiseguy... "if you're so clever, you tell us what color it should be."
How will users navigate their way through thousands of SSD messages
which compete for their attention?
In the time honored way of learning
to recognize, filter out and disregard the 99% of SSD babel which is for
What can marketers do to create better messages for the
How can users recognize a good SSD brand when they see it?
...Later:- in January 2011 - Broadcast Engineering magazine
published my article
future of enterprise data storage.
It's a completely new
article which takes as its starting point - storage market models and concepts
from several futuristic articles which have already appeared here on the
mouse site - advances them and integrates them into a single cohesive
...Later:- in January 2012 - I wrote a new article
- on the SSD market - How does the SSD market today compare with
earlier disruptive tech markets?
...Later:- in July 2013 - in a new article - hostage to the
fortunes of SSD - I explained why so many big traditional companies
are piling into the SSD market with acquisitions and licenses - despite the
fact that many leading SSD companies haven't demostrated sustainable business
|"Since the early
1970s there have been 3 revolutionary disruptive influences in the electronics
and computing markets:- the microprocessor, the commercialization of the
internet and the transition of digital storage to SSDs."|
|......from the article -
Perspectives - on
the SSD market|
|an introduction to
enterprise SSD silos|
||The enterprise SSD
market is complicated enough already but despite that - only 7 distinct types
of SSD classes are all that are needed to sustainably satisfy all the
architecture needs in the pure solid state storage data center of the future.
...read the article
|What's the best way to
design a flash SSD? |
and other questions which split SSD opinion
|More than 10 key areas of
fundamental disagreement within the SSD industry are discussed in an article
here on StorageSearch.com called
the SSD Heresies.|
||Why can't SSD's true believers agree upon
a single coherent vision for the future of solid state storage? ...read the article|
|the 3 fastest flash
PCIe SSDs - list / lists|
|You know the sort of
thing I mean - where a magazine compares 10 SSDs or a blogger compares 2 SSDs
against each other. It would be nice to have a shortlist so that you don't have
to waste too much of your own valuable time testing unsuitable candidates
StorageSearch's long running
fastest SSDs directory
typically indicates 1 main product in each form factor category but those
examples may not be compatible with your own ecosystem.
If so a
new article -
the 3 fastest PCIe
SSDs list (or is it really lists?) may help you cut that Gordian
knot. Hmm... you may be thinking that StorageSearch's editor never gives easy
answers to SSD questions if more complicated ones are available.
||But in this case you'd be
wrong. (I didn't say you'd like the answers, though.) ...read the article|