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|Branding Strategies in
the SSD Market - by
Sometimes the name of an SSD
product - or the company who makes it - can lead to a confused situation - when
one part of your brain stops you correctly interpreting the words that your eyes
are reading. Here are 2 examples.|
- RamSan - from Texas Memory Systems |
this later became the
FlashSystem brand from IBM
|Stretching the RamSan brand to cover SSDs
which weren't RAM SSDs (didn't include any flash) and then didn't connect via
SANs and detouring past "we don't think MLC is good enough" to
arrive at the destination - "RamSan Performance. eMLC value."
Here's an example of a banner ad for the RamSan-20 which was running
here on StorageSearch.com in the 1st half of 2010.
|In July 2010 a reader said to me that
although he was impressed by the specs of the
PCIe SSD from
Texas Memory Systems)
he "knew" he wouldn't be able to afford it - as it was a
RAM SSD. |
said - this is a flash
SSD. The "RamSan" product brand is the oldest SSD product brands
in the industry - having been used for at least 10 years.
In 1992 my
listed a "SAM-2000" SSD (Shared Access Memory) from the same
company - at a time before the terms "fibre-channel" or "SAN"
had even been invented. So I'm guessing that RamSan was a short step from where
the company had been when they started marketing FC connected SSDs.
RamSan confusing when applied to a flash SSD?
Yes. Because another
potential source of confusion (which didn't apply in this reader's particular
case) is that the product in question is not a "SAN" compatible product -
by which is meant a storage device which connects via
the term "SAN" in the storage market has been devalued from its
original meaning - and adapted by usages such as "IP SAN" (which is
an iSCSI compatible
ethernet connection) so that it is often meanignless and disregarded by many
TMS isn't alone in using the term "SAN" to describe
a DAS product like a PCIe SSD. In the early days of
in 2008 - FIO
regularly referred to its product as a solution or replacement for FC SANs.
Technically -it wasn't. But this was customer code speak - aimed at editors
and analysts who didn't know any better - that their products were aimed at the
same kind of serious storage customers who traditionally had used SANs. You
can't blame them - because the PCIe SSD market - which is huge now - didn't
register in most user thinking back in those days. In fact it wasn't till
September 2011 - that Fusion-io's SSDs made it into a legacy FC SAN product - in
the blade based product line of
TMS - stretching the RamSan brand to encompass SSDs which weren't RAM SSDs and
didn't connect via SANs was a pragmatic marketing approach. Because when
you've got a strong brand such as RamSan (in the context of SSD) - it helps
sell products - and most people - who need these accelerators - will see past
the confusing name to the real product which lies behind.
Memory Systems have done a better job at removing confusion when it introduced
its 1st flash SSD (the rackmount RamSan-500) in
marketing expert I've spoken to said it would have been simple at that stage to
differentiate the new products using different brands.
The advantage for TMS at the time (of using the old brand) was that the
new product was clearly part of a 30 year reliable solid state storage heritage
even though it used memory technology which many in the industry had once
considered to be risky. But it could be counter productive to rebrand the
product lines now.
- in an interview with Jamon Bowen,
Director of Sales Engineering for Texas Memory Systems, I learned that 70%
of the company's SSD sales are actually flash SSDs rather than RAM SSDs.
2011 - Texas Memory Systems was the 2nd to last enterprise SSD maker to
resist offering MLC flash in its SSD product line. So it's interesting to see
that in a link to its high density MLC FC SAN rackmount SSD - the RamSan-810
- it uses the headline
"RamSan Performance. eMLC value."
Cutting across 2 long standing customer misconceptions at a single
stroke. (One being concerns about
naughty flash in
- XcelaSAN - from Dataram|
|Here's an example of a banner ad for the XcelaSAN which was running
here on StorageSearch.com in the 1st half of 2010.|
|Dataram is one of the
oldest surviving brands in the memory market. The company was founded in 1967.
Dataram makes a rackmount SSD - called the
Now if you had to guess what kind of memory makes up the bulk of the storage
capacity in this product (and you do have to guess - because the company's own
web page doesn't tell you) - you'd guess
you'd be wrong. It's actually SLC flash (the
reliable kind of
flash). I know this because I spoke to Dataram's CTO, Jason Caulkins
when the product was
launched in 2009.
And here's another confusing thing - which I
have said often to Dataram's marketers. You don't see the word "SSD"
(or the expanded form "solid state drive/disk") on their main product
page. Instead - they call it a "storage optimization appliance".
add to the rich pool of SSD
jargon - I invented the word
this class of SSD - a term which other publications and some vendors are
starting to adopt.
July 23, 2010 - Dataram's CTO, Jason Caulkins sent me this email to clarify
Dataram's stance re the terminology used to describe their product.
said - "Zsolt, I see on your recent post that you have made note of
some issues with folks mis-using the term "SSD".
"I agree that the term SSD is sometimes being mis-used by both
vendors and consumers, which is making things a bit (more) hazy.
"I would like to clarify how we use the term at Dataram. We
refer to "Solid State Disk" only when describing a discreet storage
device using some form of memory as the primary storage medium.
"In the case of the XcelaSAN, we never refer to it as an SSD. It
is a solid state storage appliance, but it is not typically used for long-term
"It really is a SAN accelerator. It may use
SDRAM, NAND, or any number of other types of storage internal to the system, but
those are not exposed to the outside world."
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