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decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise
Exiting the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing
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This is now essential knowledge - says IT Brand Pulse
Editor:- August 9, 2014 - If it wasn't for people being seriously interested in mission critical SSD related technologies, product architectures and being willing to invest their time in (sometimes) bewildering content about difficult concepts as their best defensive plan to avoid making big mistakes - I wouldn't have any readers.

But although I have often commented on these pages how surprised I have been by the high level of knowledge and dedication evinced by those readers who contact me from outside the SSD industry - I hadn't given much thought to what that meant in terms of an industry trend.

My view (as a publisher) has been - my site is for really serious readers - and I don't aim to please everyone by dumbing down the content.

Quite the opposite in fact - as a few years ago I decided to pro-actively disengage from user facing content about the consumer SSD market. Other publications do that better.

Despite prioritizing reader quality over raw SSD reader numbers - my numbers have been doing OK - with some all time record numbers as recently as in the past 7 days.

I was content knowing that enough of you were interested in deep enterprise SSD related issues to stick with plan A - and I hadn't given much thought to how that compared with the wider market - beyond knowing that my readers are the most influential in the enterprise SSD markets.

Enter IT Brand Pulse - who measure many aspects of enterprise user thinking about SSDs (including perceptions and misperceptions about brand leadership).

I say "misperceptions" advisedly because sometimes in the past - SSD vendors have been perceived to be leaders in product categories in which they have no discernibly worthwhile product offerings. But a good score in brand projection (carried over from other markets) provides an opportunity for product marketers to convert such illusions to realities - because it shows that users would be willing to buy such products from such companies - if they actually existed.

I digress. The main point I wanted to make is this.

I was surprised to see that on page 55 of - Enterprise SSDs Who's Adopting Them and Why? - (a pdf based on their presentation earlier this week at FMS) - on which page IT Brand Pulse had taken a measure of user willingness to invest time into looking at the details of flash memory characteristics - and their conclusion is...

"This is now essential knowledge. - Only a little more than 25% of enterprise users will not deep dive into the technology."

I don't know about you - but I find that reassuring.

I've focused on just one page in what is - with pictures - an 80+ page document.

IT Brand Pulse's paper provides an entertaining and informative tour of the recent 2-3 years in the enterprise SSD market. And if you want the numeric data to scale the graphs shown in their paper - it only costs $495 - contact to order. the article (pdf)

See also:- storage market research, SSD endurance, Enterprise SSDs - the Survive and Thrive Guide, SSD history
"I can tell you now - that any prescriptive guide which says - this is exactly what you need to do to buy the best notebook or server or military SSD is doomed to failure at the start - because users don't know they are asking the wrong questions."
the problem with SSD education (and comprehension) - July 2010
the Top SSD Companies in Q2 2014
Editor:- August 1, 2014 - recently published the new 29th quarterly edition of the Top SSD Companies - based on metrics in Q2 2014. There are 2 first time appearances in this new edition. And some new updates. the article
whatever gave you that silly idea?
Can you trust SSD market data?
from the SSD news archive
SanDisk to buy Fusion-io

IBM is #1 in rackmount SSD revenue
Seagate agrees to acquire LSI's flash business for $450 million

Kaminario guarantees amplified usable capacity
SanDisk samples 4TB 2.5" SAS SSDs

Violin enters the SSD integrated server market
Samsung says its 2.5" NVMe PCIe SSD are 3x faster than 12Gbps SAS SSDs
A3CUBE unveils PCIe memory fabric for 10,000 node-class architectures

Marvell samples 5K IOPS smartphone SSD (eMMC 5.0)
IBM revamps TMS rackmount SSDs and launches memory channel SSD servers (with SanDisk / Diablo inside)

Half Micron's nand flash now used in SSDs

InnoDisk's (MO-276) nanoSSD in full scale production

Netlist says ULLtraDIMM SSDs infringe its patents

2013 SSD market timeline
popular SSD articles and recommended SSD blogs
SSD articles & blogs

Many factors at play in enterprise SSD market behavior still don't appear as explicit assumptions in SSD product marketing plans.

A 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.
Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise for rackmount SSDs

cloud storage news, vendors, articles  and directory - click here
cloud storage

I think that 2014 will be seen as the start of a new phase of creativity in the enterprise SSD market on the subject of pricing and affordability. As evidence for that - I'm going to mention 3 companies at the end of this article - whose recent activities - while different in detail - were swirling around in my head this week.
Exiting the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing

Rackmount SSDs click for news and directory
rackmount SSDs

"High-performance SSD-backed storage is becoming table stakes for a growing number of cloud providers."
Google Cloud tests out fast, high I/O SSD drives - by Barbara Darrow, Senior Writer at GigaOM (June 5, 2014)

click to read the article - Big versus Small SSD  architectures
Size matters in SSD architecture

"SSD efficiency is a very powerful differentiator in technology and I think it will also be very important in influencing business success too."
Efficiency - making the same SSD - with less flash

pcie  SSDs - click to read article

early alert for Storage Visions 2015
Editor:- July 16, 2014 - this week agreed to be a media sponsor for Storage Visions 2015 - which takes place January 4-5, 2015 in Las Vegas, NV. Here's the preliminary agenda.

So you'd think that when it comes to the person in purchasing - who's looking for standard SSD products to go into industrial or embedded systems - which aren't pushing the state of the art when it comes to form factors (some like CF have been around forever) and whose needs include the type of SSD interfaces which haven't been seen much in SSD news in the last 10 years - it should be simple enough.
no such thing as a simple standard legacy industrial SSD - (June 3, 2014)

SSD silos article
datacenter SSD silos

"Design to fail - because... No matter what kind of solutions you are going to use, their inner resiliency, the level of redundancy you are going to introduce (multiple servers, storage, datacenters, IT stuff), at some point something is going to break. Its not a matter of IF, but only of WHEN.

I dont want to have a monolith in my datacenter, something that is supposed to never fail. Because, when it will fail, Im sure there will be something in its design that will prevent me from recovering its services in a desirable timeframe. Because its designers never thought any possible problem, and the countermeasure for it."
Do we really need backups? - by Luca Dell'Oca, (May 12, 2014)

image shows Megabyte pouring clone juice onto his garden - click here for the backup software page
backup software

"That step in improved utilization means that when users make the switch to the newer software - not only do they need less servers - but they don't need as many SSDs either."
meet Ken - and the enterprise SSD software event horizon

Flash Memory
flash & nvm

the Top SSD Companies in Q1 2014
Editor:- May 19, 2014 - recently published the 28th quarterly edition of the Top SSD Companies List based on metrics in Q1 2014.

Newcomers to the list included Maxta and A3CUBE. the article

click to see directory of SAS SSD companies

what's the state of DWPD?
Diskful Writes Per Day in leading enterprise SSDs

Flash Memory Summit - event logo

click here to see our directory of SSD market analysts
SSD market analysts

PCIe SSDs for use in enterprise server acceleration have been shipping in the market since 2007. It's one of the most popular SSD subjects pursued by our readers (and has been since 2009).

With over 100 million enterprise PCIe ports already shipped - the converging PCIe SSD / server market is well positioned to expand into new applications.
the PCIe SSD directory on

"The winners in SSD software could be as important for infrastructure as Microsoft was for PCs, or Oracle was for databases, or Google was for search."
get ready for a new world in which
all enterprise data touches SSDs

"Don't place too much credence in what SSD companies tell you about the present or the future of the SSD market."
Survivor's Guide to Enterprise SSDs

nice flash vs naughty flash
Sugaring flash for the enterprise
how the market changed from 2004 to 2013
image shows software factory - click to see storage software directory
SSD software ....
pcie  SSDs - click to read article
PCIe SSDs ..
memory channel storage
memory channel SSDs

SSD news

revisiting an old new storage drive idea

Editor:- August 20, 2014 - From time to time I get an email from a new (to me) company which really grabs my attention. Here's one such which arrived this morning.

"We now have the WORM hard disk you refer to in your article in (Introducing WORM Hard Disk Drives - February 28, 2005).

"It was developed for the Department of Justice, and is now in use, by GreenTec-USA, Inc. in conjunction with Seagate. Can we send you some information? Would love to hear from you!" - Bob Waligunda, VP of Sales at GreenTec-USA.

Editor's comments:- I haven't spoken to Bob yet - because of the time difference. But here's some info I got from GreenTec's web site:-
  • GreenTec WORM whitepaper (pdf) - "Organizations today have demanding needs to ensure that their sensitive data is protected. Considerable damage could be done if critical or sensitive files are deleted or altered either accidentally or intentionally"
The interesting thing for me is it shows that innovation in the hard drive market hasn't stopped completely. And GreenTec's 3TB (for now) WORM drives are also available as arrays in micro cloud blocks.

I had almost forgotten about my 9 year old WORM HDD (market needs this) article. I'll update it later with this note.

Linking this back to SSDs - there have been several companies in recent quarters who have announced physical write-disable switches into embedded SSDs - including:- See also:- SSD security, military SSDs

Maxta invests in Intel

Editor:- August 19, 2014 - In May 2014 we learned that Intel had invested in Maxta. And this week we learned that Maxta has reciprocated that favor by investing in Intel.

More strategically than with mere money - Maxta's investment - announced yesterday - is in the form of a reference architecture - cored on Maxta's MxSP software (SSD ASAP software) which provides an easy to support set of solutions preconfigured for Intel servers and Intel SSDs.

Maxta says its MaxDeploy Reference Architecture offers the framework of a repeatable and standard deployment model - which provides its customers "ease of ordering and predictability" - and which mitigates the risk of hardware or software compatibility issues, while simplifying and shortening deployment time and training.

The new solution set will be demonstrated next week at VMworld, San Francisco.

See also:- SSD software, SSD acquisitions

Super Talent joins M.2 PCIe SSD market

Editor:- August 11, 2014 - Super Talent Technology today announced that it has added an M.2 form factor SSD to its NGFF family of SSDs.

Super Talent's PCIe DX1 has a PCIe gen 2 interface, R/W speeds upto 480/400MB/s respectively, capacity upto 256GB MLC and comes with a 128MB DDR3 DRAM cache.

Samsung ships 10nm SAS SSDs

Editor:- August 8, 2014 - Samsung today announced it is producing SAS SSDs with 10nm nand flash.

The SM1623 has R/W IOPS upto 120K/26K respectively. But DWPD isn't that great - Samsung says it's about 1 (which is restrictive).

Editor's comments:- When it comes to COTS storage arrays (just a bunch of SSDs with some RAID) SAS is the new SATA. While SATAe and NVMe (2.5" PCIe SSDs and M.2 PCIe SSDs) will be the new SAS.

This is a significant milestone in the 10 year history of enterprise flash - and portends lower pricing for entry level SSD storage arrays.

But it's not at simple as 10nm based arrays always being cheaper for all apps.

The ability to do more writes and work faster (with more expensive memory and software) creates its own competitive efficiencies.

So it's more likely that in the next few years we'll see 10nm being used as one of several memory geometries in different roles - even inside the same boxes. Just as we're seeing multiple generations of flash in enterprise and embedded markets today.

Diablo unveils DDR-4 flash DIMM SSDs

Editor:- August 7, 2014 - Diablo yesterday announced details of a new 2nd generation memory channel SSD - low latency flash SSD accelerators in DDR-4 sockets - which will sample to oems in the first half of 2015.

Along with the new hardware technology there will be an improved software platform - with features like NanoCommit - which Diable says will enable hundreds of millions of transactions per second, with nanosecond latency.

"Memory Channel Storage DDR4 solutions represent the next evolution of Server Acceleration technology," said Riccardo Badalone, CEO and Co-founder of Diablo Technologies. "In addition to supporting a faster memory interface, the Carbon2 platform delivers unprecedented levels of hardware acceleration for new software innovations like NanoCommit. Converged Memory, where the best of Flash and DRAM are combined, will rely on this type of technology to give applications the ability to transparently persist updates to main memory."

Editor's comments:- After FMS - Diablo sent me more info (pdf) about their FMS presentation (pdf) from which I have extracted these key features.
  • Diablo's converged memory architecture (flash tiered with DRAM) is planned to support 700 million random cachelines / sec.
  • Latency of each cacheline is about 48 nanoseconds.
  • Diablo's NanoCommit supports byte addressable small writes to flash with high transaction rates and the ability to mirror the DRAM contents to persistent storage.
  • The combination of technologies would enable something like a 1U server with 25TB of converged memory.
Diablo MCS - nanocommit - click for pdf

Plextor's M.2 PCIe SSD wins award at FMS

Editor:- August 7, 2014 - Plextor today announced that its M6e - an M.2 PCIe SSD - has won Best of Show for most Innovative flash memory technology at the Flash Memory Summit.

The M6e SSD combines a multi-core Marvell PCIe 9183 controller and Toshiba toggle NAND flash with firmware developed by Plextor's in-house team.

As part of the design verification - Plextor says that 400 units were subjected to 500 hours of extreme tests without error or failure.

say hello to Shannon Systems

Editor:- August 6, 2014 - I hadn't heard of Shannon Systems before. But I got a nice email this morning from Xueshi Yang, CEO and co-founder who said he has been reading "for quite a number of years now" and also said that his company is showing their products at Flash Memory Summit.

Among other things - Xueshi Yang said - "Shannon System is a startup I co-founded in 2011 in China after I left Marvell.

"The company is dedicated to the enterprise flash storage market. Currently, we focus on the high performance PCIe market with our proprietary controllers and software systems. In April this year, we announced the industry first 6.4TB PCIe SSD with a single controller, which boasts 67us read access latency and 9 us write access latency (all in 4KB, random). While in June, we introduced a PCIe SSD with SFF-8639 interface, which is hot-pluggable. We currently serve over 100 customers in China, including Tier 1 internet companies, as well as other named customers such as China Mobile, China Telecomm etc."

Silicon Motion samples controller for TLC SATA SSDs

Editor:- August 5, 2014 - Silicon Motion today announced that it is sampling the SM2256, the world's first complete merchant ASIC/firmware SATA 6Gb/s SSD controller solution supporting 1x/1y/1z nm triple-level cell (TLC) NAND from all major NAND suppliers.

"We expect TLC SSDs to account for more than 40% of all client SSD shipments in 2015," said Michael Yang, Senior Principal analyst at IHS iSuppli. "The combination of cost effective TLC NAND and new controllers like Silicon Motion's SM2256 will help drive this level of adoption."

HGST rekindles concept of a PCM based PCIe SSD

Editor:- August 4, 2014 - HGST today announced it will demonstrate a PCM PCIe SSD concept at the Flash Memory Summit. HGST says the demonstration model delivers 3 million random read IOPS (512 Bytes) and a random read access latency of 1.5 microseconds.

Editor's comments:- Micron funded the world's first enterprise PCM PCIe SSD demo 3 years ago (in June 2011). The storage density of PCM resulted in an SSD which had pitifully low capacity compared to flash memory at that time - and earlier this year (in January 2014) there were reports that Micron had temporarily abandoned this idea.

Is HGST really going to wander into memory space where even the memory makers don't want to go? Or is this just a market signal that HGST isn't just looking at short term SSD product concepts?

A3CUBE will use military connectors in datacenter fabric

Editor:- August 4, 2014 - A3CUBE today announced that its emerging PCIe compatible distributed shared memory architecture - the RONNIEE Express - is supported by a military grade rugged connector technology. A3CUBE teamed with a specialist connector manufacturer AirBorn Inc on this aspect of the implemenetation.

A3CUBE says that RONNIE RIO is the first network adapter card designed with carrier-grade and military-grade reliability and is designed to bring mission-critical features to the standard data center interconnection network and data plane.

See also:- military SSDs, HA SSDs

And the best buy SSDs shall be the worst (if you change your workloads)

Editor:- August 2, 2014 - An applications optimized SSD system can be the cheapest buy - if you always use it for the original purpose - but it can be a poor choice if you throw the wrong type of applications at it. Enter - the good ole general purpose fast SSD array.

The conflicts are examined in a new blog - Real Flash Storage Systems multi-task! written by Woody Hutsell, IBM who among other things says - "It just so happens that flash appliances with built-in deduplication are the worst choices for database acceleration." the article

The idea that an SSD which is best for one type of use may have the worst characteristics for another - was also examined from an architectural point of view in my classic article - how fast can your SSD run backwards?

Diablo secures patent related to MCS technologies

Editor:- July 31, 2014 - Diablo today announced that the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) awarded U.S. patent No. 8,713,379, entitled a "System and method of interfacing co-processors and input/output devices via a main memory system," to the company. The '379 patent describes:
  • A method for connecting non-volatile memory directly to the memory controllers of a processor.
  • A learning machine to handle data interleaving/de-interleaving and data scrambling/de-scrambling algorithms for DDR3/4-based memory controllers.
  • A method to remap the non-linear DIMM address space back to linear address space used by the driver
See also:- Memory Channel SSDs

Lite-On enters enterprise M.2 PCIe SSD market

Editor:- July 30, 2014 - Lite-On will be showing a new M.2 PCIe SSD for the enterprise market next week at the Flash Memory Summit.

The P1P is a M.2 PCIe SSD with capacities of 1TB and power loss protection circuit all in a small form factor.

The small form factor and high capacity allow enterprise customers to pack more storage in a smaller footprint. The P1P Series can deliver sequential R/W speeds up to 610MB/s and 520MB/s while random R/W speeds can be upto 95K/15K IOPS.

The drive has a MTBF of 2 million hours and an endurance rating of up to 1 drive write per day for 5 years.

NxGn Data exits stealth with promise of in-situ SSD processing

Editor:- July 29, 2014 - NxGn Data today exited stealth mode.

NxGn will use advanced adaptive DSP technology to enable small form factor SSDs (such as M.2) aimed at the enterprise market - using MLC and TLC down to 1z-nm geometries.

Fully functional FPGA-based samples will be available in early 2015, followed by final production samples of SoC-based M.2 solutions in late 2015.

NxGn says it will be the first SSD controller company in the industry with in-storage computation capability - what it calls "In-Situ Processing".

Editor's comments:- Earlier this year I published a couple of reports and mentions about SSD suppliers (LSI and Memblaze) who have modifed their controller firmware to eliminate or bypass functions from the lowest level SSD drive - for large customers like Baidu - who then use their array level software to get better utilization and performance.

And in the industrial market InnoDisk - uses what it calls 3rd generation architecture - to partition intelligent data actions between the controller and software stack.

Until recently - only Fusion-io (in whose products the flash controller and apps server - share the same CPU cores) has been able to maximize high end context intelligence with low level flash block data access at a similar latency level.

But once you've solved the problem of making SSDs reliable and fast - it's tempting to create an SSD instruction set which which focuses on application layer needs too - and not just those of dumb storage.

See also:- Active Flash: Towards Energy-Efficient, In-Situ Data Analytics on Extreme-Scale Machines

real-world performance of flash storage systems

Editor:- July 23, 2014 - Editor:- July 23, 2014 - How does flash storage perform in the real world? - Demartek aims to provide some answers by reporting on the performance tests which it has carried out on SSD and hybrid systems from many of the leading enterprise SSD companies in a session next month at the Flash Memory Summit (August 5).

Demartek says attendees will come away with reasonable estimates of what they can expect in practice and the results also reveal additional advantages of flash-based storage, with what Dennis Martin, President - Demartek calls "happy side effects". ...more info

See also:- SSD testing & analyzer news, how fast can your SSD run backwards?

STT-MRAM? - update report

Editor:- July 18, 2014 - IEEE Spectrum today published an interesting state of the art article about spin-transfer-torque MRAM - Spin Memory Shows its Might.

Among other things the article's author - Rachel Courtland Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Spectrum Magazine - says "STT-MRAM may be claiming some of the enthusiasm once reserved for other alternative memories, such as ferroelectric RAM, phase-change memory, and resistive RAM. But its success will come down to manufacturing technology and how well it can compete on cost." the article

See also:-
flash and other nvm, storage interface chips

new article on enterprise SSD pricing

Editor:- July 18, 2014 - in a new article on the home page of - Exiting the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing - I explain why I think that 2014 will be seen as the start of a new phase of creativity in the enterprise SSD market on the subject of pricing and affordability and I name 3 companies leading this charge.

It shouldn't come as any surprise that the dominant form factor leading this new market trend is rackmount SSDs. because as I told you in this article last year - exciting new directions in rackmount SSDs - that's the most productive form factor for doing something efficiently different with technology.

And the simplest way for vendors to signal to the world that they are masters and commanders of the solid state storage high seas - rather than merely floating barges of nand flash which can be swept along in any direction by the latest technology gust - is to hoist new colors of SSD pricing. the article.

SSD brand leaders - from IT Brand Pulse

Editor:- July 17, 2014 - Based on votes by end users in its survey sample groups - IT Brand Pulse today named the "2014 SSD Brand Leaders".

The IT Brand Pulse "Innovation Leaders" included these companies and categories:- Editor's comments:- with so many companies now doing market research which intersects with the SSD market - you've now got more sanity checks than ever to determine whether your assessment of any particular SSD company is broadly in line with that of other people.

Brand awareness, financial reports and online search data - intrinsically provide different numerically weighted views of the same market. And which methodology you prefer depends on whether your priority is in understanding the past, present or future - and what it is you're trying to decide.

For longitudinal market studies you can refine your understanding of shifting patterns of market change and real leadership by comparing these different types of data and correlating the movements in different time periods. So a shift in search volume in one period may correlate to a change in revenue some time later. Or a change in revenue or profitability might be seen to be tied to a change in brand strength later.

The interesting thing about the SSD market is that because the technology hasn't been standing still - it can be shocking to compare the same list and see how it changes over a period of 3 to 5 years and to see which old names have disappeared and which new ones have replaced them. I'm often reminded of this when I trawl back through my own SSD history and news archives. I'm sure it's the same for many of you too.

One of the things we all hope to get out of these lists - is to avoid making too many bad bets on companies and technologies which will prove to be a waste of our time.

See also:- SSD market analysts, Can you trust SSD market data?

Tegile appoints former Violin VP as new CMO

Editor:- July 15, 2014 - Tegile Systems today announced that Narayan Venkat - who was formerly VP products and marketing at Violin - has joined Tegile as its Chief Marketing Officer.

See also:- rackmount SSDs, playing the enterprise SSD box riddle game

OCZ announces availability of ZD-XL SQL Accelerator 1.5

Editor:- July 15, 2014 - OCZ this week announced availability of version 1.5 of its ZD-XL SQL Accelerator (PCIe SSD and caching software bundle) the beta version of which was announced in April. Highlights:-
  • flash Buffer Pool Extension (BPE) support
  • better granularity of database files that need to be accelerated - than version 1.0.
  • remote flash services - enables remote network connected blade servers to access cached PCIe flash storage using OCZ's proprietary Direct Pass Caching Technology.
Small system performance? - Internal testing performed by OCZ delivered over one million TPMs for a sample of 50 virtual users when ZD-XL SQL Accelerator 1.5 was located in the same server as the SQL application.

For larger enterprises/data centers that use ZD-XL SQL Accelerator 1.5 in a traditional HA SAN storage environment, the embedded software can cache large database files from the SAN onto server-side flash either locally or remotely - with 5x speedups (compared to native HDD SAN performance) being realistic goals.

Editor's comments:- This product is aimed at the same applications as Violin's Windows Flash Array (WFA)

The main differences are:-
  • OCZ has been selling into the entry level enterprise SQL acceleration market as a business focus for much longer than Violin (years rather than months).

    In contrast - Violin's history has been mostly as a very high performance SSD supplier - and until recently Violin only encountered small SSD applications as departmental use cases within big SSD customer sites.
  • With Violin's WFA you get an integrated system - but have to buy the servers from Violin.
  • With OCZ's ZD-XL SQL Accelerator - you have the freedom to use any servers you like - as long as they have enough spare slots to install the PCIe SSD cards. But you have to know a bit more about what you're doing - and the performance is unique to your system.
See also:- ZD-XL SQL Accelerator 1.5 case studies and white papers

an update on Atlantis (Software-Defined Storage)

Editor:- July 14, 2014 - Atlantis Computing today announced 2 things:-
  • On a year-over-year basis Atlantis grew 1H bookings 80%
Commenting on the state of the company he founded in 2006 and which has already sold over 580,000 licenses - CTO, Chetan Venkatesh said - "Atlantis was started with a vision of a future where intelligent and agile Software solved the most important, complex and challenging problems of storage hardware. In our view, storage is not a hardware problem, but that hardware is the problem and to solve that you need intelligent software that disrupts the current paradigm of expensive and proprietary SAN & NAS."

Avere gets another $20 million funding

Editor:- July 10, 2014 - Avere Systems today announced raised an additional $20 million in venture financing, bringing the total amount invested in the company to $72 million. The Series D funding round was led by Western Digital Capital, with participation from previous investors Lightspeed Venture Partners, Menlo Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners and Tenaya Capital. The funding will be used to accelerate sales, marketing and continued development of the company's hybrid cloud storage solutions.

"The reality for 99% of enterprises is they will operate increasingly in a hybrid IT storage environment for many years to come. This means that no single storage technology will win, and both on-premises and cloud storage will be required to achieve cost and performance goals" said Ron Bianchini, president and CEO of Avere Systems.

Editor's comments:- I agree with Ron about that 99% figure.

In my 2012 article - an introduction to enterprise SSD silos - when I was writing about a future in which SSDs are everywhere - I said - "No single SSD type can match all the needs of all user enterprises economically. And there will always be a need to have intermediate management between SSD systems which have dissimilar speed / cost characteristics." - "SSD systems" in this context - includes the cloud.

But I'd like to take Ron's statement - about what constitutes a "hybrid" - a bit further...

I would add the words "software architectures" somewhere in that strong assertion about hybrids. (Although I can see why that would be too messy to include in a press release.)

I think that enterprises today - whether they consciously realize it or not - are in reality choosing between at least 4 different generations of SSD-aware software architectures within and around their enterprise SSD hardware mix - every time they buy a new storage product or server - in addition to the straightforward and highly visible determinations they make about the 3 fundamentally different types of hybrid caching and tiering SSD appliances (different from a network architecture point of view) which we've seen operating in classic legacy storage software frameworks since 2009.

Those "software hybrids" - which represent different generations of thinking and different pragmatic business approaches - are at the root of the software based multipliers in rackmount SSD market segments (which are making everyone's life more complicated).

In the long term the impact of multi-generationally-rooted and SSD-centric software hybridization in the enterprise will be as significant as the differences between a 2.5" SSD and a 2.5" hard drive.

I have written about these software generations before in various articles - so I won't repeat them here - I might write a simple bullet point unified history of this subject if enough readers ask me to clarify this.

a reader asks - about continuity of PLX's PCI Express box platform

Editor:- July 10, 2014 - Yesterday a reader asked if I thought that the PCIe fabric system - which I had written about last month in the article - An SSD conversation with PLX - would still be available as a product after the acquisition of PLX by Avago Technologies closed?

He pointed out that Avago avoids competing with its own systems customers (which is why they divested the SSD business from LSI) and also Avago isn't a systems company.

Here's what I said...

The points you make are valid and I had wondered the same thing myself.

But I think the PCIe fabric box (ExpressFabric solution) will continue in some form or other – because it started out as a system design kit for demonstrating what could be done with the next generation of PCIe chips and software stacks. So it's an essential sales tool for the chip business.

Before the announcement from Avago – the PLX guys had already said that any of their customers would be welcome to use as much or as little as they wanted from the SDK box – as PLX wasn't originally advancing this as a systems product.

But I could see from my own judgement (and PLX confirmed this) that for some customers – having availability of such a box as a product would be a convenient tool.

Incidentally - that's how Intel got into the systems business - with their Multibus SBC product range in the 1970s - which was a response to customers asking if they could buy the boards which were in the early microprocessor development systems.

Returning to Avago and the PCIe fabric SDK

I agree - it's possible that Avago may decide not to get into the volume supply business of these boxes – but in that case I think the boxes (and design IP for these boxes) would continue to be available in some form from a designated source – otherwise lack of this integration concept tool would slow down market adoption of the new PCIe fabric chips.

It's in the interests of Avago and its oem customers to ensure that the ExpressFabric SDK remains available as a software reference architecture which is at the center of this new ecosystem.

Later:- I asked for an official response about this (just in case I had missed anything) but - as I expected - the answer was - it will come in a future press release.

SanDisk extends the reach of its SSD software platform

Editor:- July 8, 2014 - 2 weeks ago SanDisk announced a new enterprise software product - ZetaScale - designed to support large inmemory intensice applications.

I delayed writing about it at the time - until I learned more. But now I think it could be one of the most significant SSD software products launched in 2014 - because of the freedom it will give big memory customers (in the next 2-3 years) about how they navigate their tactical choices of populating their apps servers with low latency flash SSD hardware.

what is ZetaScale?

SanDisk says - "ZetaScale software's highly parallelized code supports high throughput for flash I/O, even for small objects, and optimizes the use of CPU cores, DRAM, and flash to maximize application throughput. Applications that have been flash-optimized through the use of ZetaScale can achieve performance levels close to in-memory DRAM performance."

ZetaScale is SSD agnostic. "ZetaScale is compatible with any brand of PCIe, SAS, SATA, DIMM or NVMe connected flash storage device, providing customers the ability to choose, avoiding hardware vendor lock-in."

I was curious to see how this new product - which is a toolkit for deploying flash with tiering to DRAM as a new memory type - fitted in with other products - from SanDisk and from other vendors which also operate in this "flash as a big memoryalternative to DRAM" application space .

So I asked SanDisk some questions - and got some interesting answers.
  • Where does the ZetaScale product come from?

    SanDisk - ZetaScale builds upon our Schooner acquisition technology for additional use cases and flash deployment models.

    ZetaScale allows any developer to better tune their applications for flash-based environments, no matter which vendors hardware or interface is being leveraged. Thus, ZetaScale represents a major step forward in our vision of the flash-transformed data center—empowering software developers to scale and enhance their applications to meet today's big data and real-time analytics demands, while lowering TCO.
  • How much commonality is there between ZetaScale and FlashSoft product offerings?

    ZetaScale and FlashSoft software are complementary and orthogonal.

    FlashSoft provides direct-attached flash-based caching for NAS and SAN devices, with the goal of improving performance for unmodified applications running on a server.

    ZetaScale software provides a flash and multi-core optimization library that applications can integrate to allow them to achieve 3x times the performance improvement from flash alone.

    Both ZetaScale and FlashSoft software provide their benefits in bare metal and virtualized environments
  • Does ZetaScale support ULLtraDIMM?

    Yes. The software is compatible with any brand of PCIe, SAS, SATA, DIMM or NVMe connected flash device, enabling users to avoid vendor lock-in. However, the software does not get embedded into any SSD.
  • How would ZetaScale fit into a future SanDisk product line which also includes Fusion-io?

    SanDisk cannot comment on open M&A activity. As usual, all planning surrounding the product portfolio and roadmap will begin following the close of the acquisition.
Editor's comments:- overall I'd have to rate SanDisk's - ZetaScale as one of the most significant SSD software products launched in 2014.

From a technical point of view - it's a toolkit which will enable architects of SSD apps servers with very large in memory databases to decouple themselves fromdeep dives into specific low latency SSD products. Instead of gambling on whether they should exploit particular features which come with particular low latency SSDs - they can instead use ZetaScale as the lowest level of flash which their apps talk to. And that will change markets.

And although SanDisk didn't want to comment on how this would be positioned against Fusion-io's VSL - it's undeniable that in some applications it does compete today.

Although I wouldn't be surprised to see - a year after the acquisition (if it goes ahead) ZetaScale could be useful as a way of introducing new customers to the ioMemory hardware environment - without those customers having to make a hard commitment to the rest of Fusion-io's software.

And - looking at the memory channel SSD market - it also means that SanDisk software might be a safer standard for future customers of any DDR4 or HMC SSDs which might emerge from competitor Micron which - unlike SanDisk - hasn't demonstrated yet any strong ambitions in the SSD software platform market.

EMC acquires cloud piped via iSCSI company TwinStrata

Editor:- July 8, 2014 - not that it really matters - EMC has acquired TwinStrata
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