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what do I need to know about any new rackmount SSD?

in 30 seconds - or less

an advisory checklist for:- SSD product marketers, marcomms, PRs and real people too

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - - March 13, 2012

Whenever a significantly new rackmount SSD comes to market there are some vital things I need to know in order to place it accurately in my mental map - of how it fits in the market.

I rarely spend much time on this because I've edited thousands of SSD articles and read tens of thousands of SSD news stories. So I like to answer the questions
  • should I or my readers care?
in a very few seconds.

Rightly or wrongly I speed through my data gathering mostly driven by instinct.

It's the web. If I get it wrong - I may go back and correct an omission. But new SSD stuff keeps incoming for the attention of me and my readers every few minutes of every day. So the "going back to fix" option has to compete with the "going forward" steady state - and when you're on internet time - as I have been since 1996 - it's easier to manage content smoothly - without crunching the mental gears - facing front.

If the first glance at the new SSD press release does pass the "maybe I care test" then there's a lot more supporting info I need to find in the next few minutes - because Dear VP of SSD Product Marketing - (if you're reading this) that's all the time you're going to get - unless you are in my list of very important SSD companies. And even they have time budgets - which are hours rather than minutes (each year).

Similarly when I encounter a new SSD vendor's site for the first time I'd like to think that I can find most of the answers I need about their pre-existing products quickly and easily.

Silly me. In some cases I do. But in most cases I don't.

If a company can't give me or you these answers - clearly and simply in a few clicks or emails (without signing up to their spam list) how do they think they are going to sell them?

Some SSD vendors do get to a threshold revenue level - despite these online deficiencies because their sales people work hard and their VCs are rich. But most SSD companies will fail to get to the next level of sustainable business growth - which is where - the customer finds you - and not the other way around - unless they invest more in their online SSD communications assets.

Two things prompted me to write this article - which is about what I expect to learn about a rackmount SSD in 30 seconds online.

The first was a recent generic email from Jeffrey Swartz President of Daly-Swartz Public Relation who was promoting his latest blog - Peter Drucker's "5 Deadly Business Sins" - which he said revisits a classic article - and at the end of his email (classic direct marketers know that you will probably read the end - or the PS) Jeffrey asked - "What are some examples you've observed?"

To which I replied - "I would suggest another deadly sin. Failing to view yourself in the same way as a potential customer of your products - who doesn't yet know you."

This demonstrates - that I do read emails from some PR agencies, and although I never read his blog - I just scanned the headlines - I am all too easily distracted into replying to emails - when instead I should be writing SSD web pages like this one.

The other trigger for this SSD-racks-faqs piece was that I was talking to some marketers about their future enterprise SSD systems (which is something I do many times each day) and decided that to save time extracting the information I needed in a series of emails - I quickly typed a little list of the things I would like to see - before I get into the hard questions.

I said - "For me - these are the top level filters for all enterprise SSD systems when I compare them to all the others."

So - if you're a marketer - take note and see if you have all this info easily findable for your existing SSD systems (while keeping in mind that customers search differently to marketers).

And if you're a potential customer of, or investor in an enterprise SSD vendor which doesn't offer you clear info about their products - ask yourself is it really worth your while struggling hard to extract this basic info? Or could your energy be spent better elsewhere?

Here's my little rackmount SSD FAQs list

Which is preceded by this important pre-filter question.

Is this just another me-too? and do I already know 20 / 50 others who have done the same - in which case - just skip the whole list.
  • how fast? – latency and IOPs – and how peaky?
  • how many TB per rack unit?
  • how much cost per usable protected TB?
  • what's the finance of the company? (VC, profits etc)
  • how many SSDs have they done before?
  • how scalable – in the range from entry level upto 1PB?
  • what are the general and particular strengths and weaknesses of the architecture?
  • how hard is it to do incremental upgrades?
  • is it a good fit in the long term SSD datacenter model? or is it only a good fit for short term/ dead end market niches?
  • platforms supported, interfaces, watts per rack, shipping status, independent benchmarks, color etc
I need all that stuff to get a good understanding before I get into asking any special characteristics.

And if you're interested - then you need to be able to find all that stuff easily too.

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