|rackmount SSD news|
|growing user confidence
will spur enterprise flash consolidation|
Editor:- April 21, 2015 -
In an new article today on StorageSearch.com
I look at drivers, mechanisms and routes towards consolidation in the
enterprise SSD systems market along with some other outrageous and dangerous
"90% of the enterprise SSD companies which you know
have no good reasons to survive." ...read the article
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
how to configure Micron SATA SSDs for VSAN as a lower cost and
faster alternative to SAS HDDs in a Dell PowerEdge
September 12, 2014 - Micron
today published a new blog -
Demo 2014: A How-To Guide - which gives a top level configuration summary
of a recent benchmark demo it ran at VMWorld.
says "Our primary goal was to demonstrate best-in-class VSAN performance
and show how that compared to a standard VSAN configured with SAS HDDs. One of
the most interesting aspects of our configuration was that our M500 client
(cheap SATA) SSDs were actually less expensive than the SAS 10K HDDs (in the
comparison system)." ...read
Editor's comments:- An interesting thing
(for me) is that - for reasons explained in the article - Micron configured
VSAN to see the M500 SSDs as HDDs.
How will the hard
drive market fare... in a solid state storage world?
Dell rebrands FIO's ION - "Violin smasher class" fast
Editor:- June 24, 2014 - Fusion-io today
that its all-flash ION
Accelerator Appliance (fast rackmount SSD) will be offered as a fully
integrated and Dell
The scalable all-flash appliance features high
performance and efficient density with up to 12TB of persistent, ultra low
latency flash memory in 2U of space.
IBM is #1 in rackmount SSD revenue
16, 2014 - IBM
today that a recently published market report by IDC identified IBM as the
#1 company (ranked by revenue in 2013) for rackmount SSDs with 25% market
Editor's comments:- this would only be a surprise if
you had not read my January article -
Who's who in SSD?
It's IBM Jim - but not as we know it - which was cut and pasted from this
SSD news page you're reading now. .
The IBM-Jim article included
IBM's FlashSystems shipment numbers and the revelation that for 3 quarters IBM
shipped everything they could make.
Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise
May 28, 2014 - StorageSearch.com
today published a new article -
hidden segments in the enterprise for rackmount SSDs
Some of the
world's leading SSD marketers have confided in me they know from
their own customer anecdotes that there are many segments for enterprise
flash arrays which aren't listed or even hinted at in standard models of
the enterprise market.
Many of these missing market segments don't
even have names.
Hey - that means SSD-world is like a map of the
US before Lewis and Clark.
If you're a user - maybe that's why no
one is delighting you in the way you think you deserve.
That's what led
me to write my new article. ...read the
Another petabytes shipment snapshot of enterprise flash
May 9, 2014 - A recent blog - in ArchitectingIT
- says that 3 leading vendors shipped a sum total of over 50PB of
rackmount SSDs in
Q1 2014 - with HDS
- apparently having shipped more flash capacity than either EMC or Pure Storage
according to estimates by the blog's author Chris Evans.
comments:- How does this compare to other vendors? and to other times?
See Petabyte SSD
Milestones from Storage History.
Another context is this.
and when Skyera
ships just 40U of its fully populated upcoming
skyEagle (in a single
quarter later this year) that would be more flash capacity than anyone in the
above list. (Although they should all be shipping more too if you believe
flash capacity - on its own - is a crude and meaningless measure. (Unless -
I suppose - you're the company which sold the
chips or the boxes.)
of enterprise flash depends on how fast it is,
where it's located in the
datacenter architecture and how well it has been integrated to leverage
the application architecture.
EMC acquires memory channel SSD in a box company DSSD
May 5, 2014 - EMC
has acquired a stealth mode rackmount SSD company - DSSD
- it was announced
Products based on the new DSSD architecture are expected to be
available in 2015.
Editor's comments:- an informative and
entertaining article about this can be seen on
sounds like the DSSD product will implement a large directly addressable (by
PCIe) memory space - based on a transparent
RAM cache flash
scheme and will offer latencies similar to
SSDs - but with the capacity difference being that you can pack more
capacity into a box than in a bunch of DDR3 DIMMs.
It hearkens back to
the original big shared memory in a box connected by PCIe of
Violin's first product
- the Violin 1010 Memory
Appliance - which was launched back in 2007.
Although that was
pure RAM - and
enterprise users in those days weren't as
educated as they
are today. That meant Violin had to go back and redesign the product to include
a fibre-channel front end -
to make it fit in with the market idea of what an enterprise SSD box should
really look like. And that product also came in at the tail end of the
RAM SSD market - in the
year before new flash
controller architectures enabled SSD makers (including Violin) to displace
low to mid range SSD boxes with pure flash.
And before Violin's product
- in 1994 - Texas Memory
Systems was shipping a product called the SAM-2000 (Shared Access Memory) -
which enabled a bunch of different computers (even with different OS and
internal busses) to share the same memory at low microsend latencies and bus
There's an argument for saying that Violin already offers
something similar now to what EMC hopes to ship next year - in the shape of
Flash Array (WFA). Except that the 1st generation WFA uses GbE as the server
clustering fabric. But my guess is that it would be easy for Violin to offer
other variations with lower internal latency - to connect the CPUs to its
- if they thought enough customers would buy it.
IBM can already do
something similar (to Violin) with its X6 architecture.
limitations in IBM's technology are that the 1st generation of eXFlash DIMMs
(designed by SanDisk
and Diablo) are greedy
when it comes to power consumption. That means legacy server motherboards
don't have enough current capacity routed to the DIMMs to enable you to fill
them all with these modules. That's easy to change, however by adding more
copper in the motherboards and increasing the air flow in the box.
EMC offers the DSSD as a product which is unbundled from the brand of server -
then it might find a niche market for it.
But there are so many
different ways of tackling the same problem (such as enabling
PCIe SSD fabric from
storage, not to mention what's the PCIe interface for in
Skyera's new box)
that it may already be a crowded market by the time EMC has anything to ship.
Are you ready to
rethink enterprise RAM?
||If he had his way... Sir Squeaks-a-Bit
would stretch all rotating disk pretenders on the rack and remove their
|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.
Smaller nuances of user behavior (which are easier to discern as
patterns in a stable market) easily get lost under the noise created by headline
technology changes and the market's apparent willingness to slaughter and
discard once loved past industry leaders.
hidden segments in the enterprise for rackmount SSDs|