rackmount SSD news
|7 out of top 10 SSD
companies are systems companies|
editor:- January 7, 2016 -
Rackmount SSD companies dominated the top 10 zone of the new
34th quarterly edition
of the Top SSD
Companies published today by StorageSearch.com
- with 7 out of the top 10 being in the rackmount SSD business.
EMC was the 2nd fastest
climber and this period marked Kaminario's best
rank in the more than 5 years it has appeared in this series.
back at the dominance of rackmount systems makers in past editions in this
series - the pattern first became clear in
Q2 2013 when it
was 8 of the top 10 companies.
The compelling technology
necessities driving this trend were noted in my
SSD year transitions article. The top level idea is the same today as it
"The rack has become the most important form factor at
which level enterprise SSD vendors must focus their strategic product ideas.
What we're seeing in the market today at the rack level - are efficiencies and
competitive advantages which accrue from combining and integrating design
factors at many levels within large SSD arrays (at the memory utilization level,
the SSD controller level, the drive interface level, the flash array
organization level and multiple levels up and down the system software and apps
software stacks). Mastering the design possibilities of SSD at the rack level
enables new levels of competitive advantages for vendors."
the precise details which have changed since 2013. Hence all those recent AFA
and big data SSD acquisitions.
And the market
has changed too (90% of enterprise vendors will disappear) which means it's
less safe for SSD outsiders to sit back and wait to see what happens.
Pure Storage reports high revenue growth
December 2, 2015 - Pure
that revenue in the recent quarter was $131.4 million - which was 2.6x
the revenue of the year ago period.
Pure Storage said it grew its
customer base to over 1,350 organizations, adding more than 250 new customers in
the third quarter.
Permabit shrinks data in new flash boxes from BiTMICRO
Editor:- October 20, 2015 - Permabit today
that its inline dedupe and compression software is used in BiTMICRO's new
rackmount SSD white boxes - which include a 1U iSCSI appliance (20x 2.5"
TB SSD shown at FMS) and a 3U
fast SSD server (8x PCIe SSDs) which is due to be shipped this quarter.
Dell buys EMC - the SSD view
good for Dell-EMC - long
good for AFA and hybrid competitors - short term
and changes for SSD suppliers - short term
Editor:- October 13, 2015 - Dell yesterday
it has agreed to acquire EMC
for approximately $67 billion. The acquisition also included EMC's stake in
the storage software
company VMware - which
will remain in public ownership.
Editor's comments:- In the
short term this fixes a problem for Dell (its weakness in enterprise storage)
and offers a credible way for EMC to adapt to a long term future in which its
storage products become
commoditized and accessible to smaller businesses (something which Dell has
historically been good at with its server business.)
landscape in enterprise storage is
but a long term SSD centric summary goes something like this.
have become a commodity. And there is little or no scope for genuine
differentation options to be offered within the server market. (Being able
to offer the same memories or SSDs in servers as everyone else - does not
decommodify server product lines BTW.)
In contrast - enterprise storage
- which in the HDD and post tape library and post optical storage era (2001 to
2008) had been coasting towards oblivious commoditization - has been
temporarily reprieved from that fate (2009 to 2018) by the disruptive
impact of SSD memory technologies which enabled the construction of
5 to 6 role
differentiated types of new storage boxes which could deliver value to
users in ways which were technically unimaginable and unfeasible with
classically tiered memory and storage.
Having misfired its original
entry into the enterprise flash market in
2008 - EMC has
in recent years managed to accumulate credible industry leading proprietary IP
and product lines in 2 of the 5 above storage box segments (which will satisfy
projected enterprise storage needs in the post HDD era) meanwhile treading
water in the other 3 main box segments (indicating its aspiration to occupy
part of those other crowded beachheads if possible).
Assuming all goes
well with the acquisition process - the Dell-EMC product line will enable EMC
storage to be more competitive in the short term with existing products and to
maybe credibly add another notch to the list of product types for which it has
aspirations for clear leadership.
on the server and storage markets which are emerging from
SSD centric software
and data architectures will mean that traditional product lines from both
vendors will shrink away.
And those lost revenues will stay gone
forever. The old ways and the
orders won't be coming back. That's why it's important for both companies
to draw in new smaller customers and to nurture them (if possible) into the
new sustainable sold state storage and server product lines.
about impacts for the SSD market?
Anyone who competes with Dell or EMC
will - for the next year - have an easier ride - due to the inward focus
which sucks away the attention of the talent following such acquisitions.
SSD market as a whole will continue to supply memory and SSDs to the new company
- and probably can look forward to getting more business in 18 months time.
it won't simply be more of the same. Some SSD vendors may see big changes
when Dell EOLs systems and modules which are cannibalistic and compete within
the combined product lines.
transaction comes out of weakness, not strength" said Scott Dietzen, CEO -
- in his blog
Observations on Dell / EMC Deal.
The aptness of
that summary made me jealous.
I guessed that Scott Dietzen has
probably got some old product planning powerpoints somewhere which could
provide many entertaining viewing hours about the competitive landscape
analysis which focuses around this old style pair of soon to be married
So my comment to Dietzen's article post on
linkedin was this.
re - "This transaction comes out of weakness,
not strength" - is a profound understatement. Wish I'd written that.
NexentaStor available with InfiniFlash
September 3, 2015 - Nexenta
support for SanDisk's
InfiniFlash AFA box.
List price for the integrated solution including, perpetual software licenses,
controllers, InfiniFlash, 3 year support and installation can be as low as
enterprise hardware consolidation,
3D TLC is good enough to last 7 years
in 1 DWPD Kaminario
Editor:- August 21, 2015 - One of the early
ideas in 2014 was that 3D nand flash was tough enough to consider using
in industrial SSDs so it was no surprise when 3D flash started to appear in
volume production of enterprise SSD accelerators such as Samsung's 10 DWPD
NVMe PCIe SSDs in September
So the recent
that it will soon ship 3D TLC (3 bits) flash in its K2 rackmount SSDs can be
seen as a predictable marker in the long term trend of
flash adoption in
Less predictable, than the price (under
for usable systems capacity) however, is that Kaminario is offering a 7
years endurance related systems warranty.
factor - discussed in a
blog - tells us more about Kaminario's customer base than it tells us about
Kaminario says its HealthShield "has been collecting
endurance statistics for the past few years, and from analyzing the data we see
that 97% of (our) customers are writing less than a single write per day (under
1 DWPD) of the entire capacity."
This is one aspect of a trend I
wrote about a few years ago -
inside the box - which is that designers of integrated systems have more
freedom of choice in their memories than designers of standard SSD drives -
because they have visibility and control of more layers of software and can
leverage other architectural factors.
A competent box level SSD
designer can make better decisions about how to translate raw R/W intentions
(from the host) into optimized R/W activities at the flash .
is especially the case when the designers are also collecting raw data
about the workloads used in their own customer bases. The customer experience is
more important than slavishly designing systems which look good in artificial
"more lanes of SAS than anyone else" - new 4U
Editor:- July 28, 2015 - As the
rackmount SSD market
consolidation - new business opportunities are being created for those
brave hardware companies which accept the challenge of providing simple
hardware platforms (which provide high density or efficiency or performance or
other combinations of valued technical features optimized for known use cases)
while also being willing to sell them unbundled from expensive frivolous
In that category - Savage IO today
its SavageStor - a 4U
server storage box - which - using a COTS array of hot swappable SAS SSDs -
can provide upto 288TB flash capacity with 25GB/s peak internal bandwidth with
useful RAS features for embedded systems integrators who need high flash
density in an untied / open platform.
Savage IO says it "products
are intentionally sold software-free, to further eliminate performance drains
and costs caused by poor integration, vendor lock-in, rigidly defined
management, and unjustifiable licensing schemes."
comments:- I spoke to the company recently and most of you will
if it's the right type of box for you or not.
fast rackmount SSDs from EMC, IBM, Pure... which is cheapest?
Editor:- July 9, 2015 - In a recent blog about the
competitiveness of fast rackmount SSDs -
I Hate Cost/GB Discussions - Michael Martin,
FlashSystems Specialist - IBM
- leads you through a series of arguments to convince you that - when
measured on a 5 year ownership basis (against a very specific set of parameters)
his company's fast
rackmount SSDs are cheaper to own than competitive models from EMC and Pure.
other things Michael says - "Why is everyone so focused on the initial cost
when it comprises such a small percentage of the "real" or total cost
of the storage array?"
condition question which Michael Martin looks at is - what is if EMC gave
you a FREE VMAX? How would that compare to the IBM V9000 FlashSystem's TCO?
I like that style of analysis - because it's one I've used a lot
myself in the past 12 years or so - in various market forecasts where I
looked at the cost of one type of product being zero but another type of
product (SSD) still being cheaper or better.
comments:- recently we've seen survey data from
Tegile suggesting that
for a significant proportion of enterprise users the ROI on their enterprise
flash investment can be as little as 1 or 2 years - which suggests that looking
at the 5 year cost, or the initial purchase cost are equally unreliable
For most users - the uncertainty of capturing reliable
predictive cost benefit data to justify the acquisition of enterprise flash
arrays was discussed in my article -
the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing.
The reasons for
choosing one system over another include so
preferences and associated customer service values that the 5 year
predicted cost from a particular web site are not likely to be the decisive
factor for most users - who will prefer to trust their own analysis.
long as you don't take the rankings in Michael Martin's blog too seriously - as
gospel - and don't come away with the idea that IBM's FlashSystem is always the
best and cheapest fast rackmount SSD - it's a fun read. ...read
Conspicuously absent however in this discussion -
given the 5 year cost justification timeframe - is a new class of fast
rackmount SSDs which will be emerging in the next year - based on arrays of
2.5" NVMe SSDs
- which will have the same impact on this segment of the market (IBM, EMC,
Violin etc) as did
flash on RAM SSDs.
(Implode the costs and explode the scalability and market roadmaps.)
also:- SSD costs and
justifications 2001 to 2015
SolidFire opens sales channel in Japan
19, 2015 - SolidFire
it has expanded its sales reach into Japan with the opening of a new office
in Tokyo and a distribution agreement with
SanDisk enters the rackmount SSD market
March 4, 2015 - As I've been saying for the past several years now - the rack
component form factor for enterprise flash.
And SanDisk recently
it has joined the enterprise
rackmount SSD market
- with a new product - 3U 512TB array of 8TB
SAS SSDs - with
iSCSI (and upto 8 way
SAS connections for
local servers) called the
system (pdf) which leverages the market proven SanDisk
Accelerator software stack which came with the acquisition of
Pricing is under $2K
/ TB before
Editor's comments:- SanDisk's pricing and
storage density for the InfiniFlash is similar to
FS (pdf) - launched in
October 2014 -
although the 2 products have very different internal architectures. The
InfiniFlash is an array of standard SAS SSDs while the skyHawk FS is a
proprietary design with internal
architecture - which can use any type of cheap, high density flash.
availability of cheap, raw, white box rackmount SSDs like this from
HGST and other vendors
may put some pressure on traditional storage vendors to justify why they
charge so much for - what in most cases - are in reality vanilla flash
arrays with some added software features. But it's that software and related
services which have locked newer vendors out of these older markets.
said that - there are many types of users in the rackmount market who don't
want the kind of software offered by companies like
HP and for whom - even the
priced management functions integrated in boxes from newer companies like
Tegile represent an
expensive solution bundled with a data management approach which is different
to what they need.
I first wrote about the conundrum of different
rackmount SSDs - with different characteristics - co-existing at the same time
and satisfying different user risk and value judgement profiles in a
In the 6 years since then - as the market has grown larger - it has
been possible to delineate more functional differences in SSD box types than
existed at that time - while at the same time - the variety of possible
attached permutations - with respect to application compatibility, inherent
technology risk factors, and buyer behavior - has grown too.
result has been inefficient markets - and an inadequate range of products -
often inappropriately marketed. Problems which I identified (with help from
leading users and marketers) in my recent article -
hidden segments in the enterprise for rackmount SSDs
Western Digital acquires Skyera
15, 2014 -
and HGST today
the acquisition of Skyera.
comments:- This is a momentous acquisition for the enterprise SSD market.
I think the context in which to view this is as the embodiment of a new
wisdom in the industry - that to succeed in the enterprise SSD market today -
and to achieve the ultimate efficiencies at the manufacturing level - vendors
have to think like systems companies.
You don't need to worry about the endurance of our FlashSystems -
Editor:- October 7, 2014 - Worried about
"None of the thousands of
products (fast rackmount SSDs) which IBM has shipped has ever
worn out yet! - says Erik
Eyberg, Flash Strategy & Business Development at IBM - in his new
storage reliability: Aligning technology and marketing. "And our
metrics suggest that will remain true in almost all cases for many, many years
(certainly well beyond any normal and expected data center life cycle)"
goes on to explain that's the reason IBM can now officially cover flash
storage media wear-out as part of its standard IBM FlashSystem warranty and
maintenance policies - without changing the prices for these services.
his blog has a
to a white paper about the reliability architecture underlying this product
(although it's behind a sign-up wall - which seems counter productive to me.)
comments:- Don't expect all other flash array vendors to follow suit (with
no cost endurance guarantees) - because this product range from IBM is based on
design rules and memory reliability architectures experience in FC SAN
compatible enterprise SSD racks which have evolved since the 1st generation
RamSan from TMS (in
2000). And for more than a decade
using other popular enterprise storage interfaces.
Holly Frost - who founded
Texas Memory Systems - and who was the CEO when TMS was acquired - told me a
revealing story about TMS's policies concerning the reliability of their SSD
systems and customer care procedures.
This conversation took place
in December 2011
- when the company was launching its first high availability SSD - which
became the basis of IBM's FlashSystem.
It still makes interesting
reading today. You can see it in
this article -
in the right hand column - scroll down to the box titled - "no single point
of failure - except..."
NetApp says - the time for taking risks with enterprise flash
startups is over
Editor:- October 1, 2014 -
of the flash startups is the provocative title of a recent blog by Craig Alger at NetApp - who
asserts that the "brief window of time where fast and agile (enterprise
SSD) startups can get the jump on large, slow manufacturers" has now
Craig questions how startups like
Tegile can expect to
compete now that "titans of the industry" such as NetApp, and EMC
(and by implication IBM, Dell, and HP too) have got their flash toys,
licensed and integrated neatly within vast product catalogs?
comments:- If you agree with Craig's premise - that all the disruptive
innovation is now over - then you'd probably also agree that it's not worth
taking risks with new enterprise SSD startups. Just stick with the big safe
vendors and you'll be OK.
You won't be surprised to learn what I told
Craig by email yesterday - which was this...
I saw your blog - Demise of the Flash startups - and might comment /
post about it. Liked the middle but disagree about the conclusion.
I would agree - if the pace of disruptive change in enterprise SSD
architecture had slowed down and if it already did solve most problems.
with a lot of very big
changes in utilization still to come - the potential market size for
genuinely innovative enterprise SSD startups (drives, systems and software) is
bigger than it was before.
"So there will more startup
companies to acquire, license from and compete with. No one's got a whole
stable solution architecture and credible roadmap yet. At best current flash
systems are stepping stones to somewhere else."
Oh - and if you're
wondering - which is the part of Craig's blog I liked the most (apart from the
cleverly provocative title) it was where he says "...those SSDs aren't as
expensive as they
used to be." ...read
to EMC... ours is better - can you take these AFA startups seriously?
||If he had his way... Sir Squeaks-a-Bit
would stretch all rotating disk pretenders on the rack and remove their
|"I think the scoring
concept intrinsically suggests a much more stable, restricted and naive model of
the SSD enterprise than is currently the case." |
| re -
AFA Buyers Guide|
Editor's comments (September 30, 2015 )
|Many factors at play in
enterprise SSD market behavior still don't appear as explicit assumptions in SSD
product marketing plans.
One contributory cause for gaps in segmental understanding has been
the continuing pace of disruptive innovation in enterprise SSD-land - which has
meant there hasn't been a stable market template for vendors to follow from one
seemingly chaotic year to the next as they encroach on new markets.
hidden segments in the enterprise|
|Some of the deepest
thinking going on in the SSD market right now is focused on rackmount SSDs. (Or
enterprise flash arrays - if you think that sounds better.)|
|new SSD thinking
inside the box|