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The big market impact of SSD dark matter

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - - September 11, 2012
Sometimes putting a name to something helps you deal with it.

Because even if you don't understand the underlying details a useful coping strategy is to place the word or phrase in your mental map of what's going on.

Later - if the new concept becomes a bigger part of what you need to know on a daily basis you can read up some more about it. But having a label gives you an initial hook to hang your thoughts on. You could say that's the typical life-cycle of most SSD jargon.

Have you been wondering about the viability of vendor business models in the enterprise SSD market lately?

My guess is that then even if you're comfortably familiar with the core user value propositions for SSDs and on passing terms with various key enterprise flash technologies - and even if you're already well versed in the arcanarie of the enterprise datacenter - then I think you'll agree with me that a lot of what's happening in enterprise SSD land still doesn't appear to make sense.

For example:-

How do all these market size projections add up?

And why are VCs cheerfully tossing nearly as much new money into the SSD pot as the whole pot was worth in revenue not that long ago?

I've written before about some of the more obvious reasons that enterprise SSD revenue is accelerating - which can be summed up as saying this.

There was a time when most apps didn't depend on SSDs. When users try out SSDs for the first time they're cautious at first - but if they get good results they know a whole bunch of other places they can also use SSDs in the future - and each time - as using SSDs gets more familiar - the next purchase is bigger and happens quicker. This transition phase from a "new" technology becoming mainstream is what creates a "growth bubble" for vendors.

Fair enough - but how big will the eventual SSD bubble be?

My long held view is that all the traditional ways of prediction can't help but understate the destination size of the SSD market.

That's because SSD is a disruptive market and doesn't only replace old ways of doing things - but will create new markets that didn't exist before and which couldn't have existed before SSDs reached a threshold level of awareness and affordability.

What are the new SSD empowered apps?

And who will be the biggest future users of enterprise SSDs?

That's a subject which I discuss a lot with vendors. It's fun guessing - and some of the guesses may be right. But just as it would have been impossible to predict with detail the effects of the microprocessor and the internet when those technologies started to become well known - it's probably impossible to predict with any level of precision what the SSD empowered super new markets of the future will be.

I call this market factor - "SSD Dark Matter"

Like cosmological dark matter - the SSD dark matter will be bigger in mass than anything which we can currently see or foresee.

I often say to enterprise SSD marketers - it's easy to create a list of the top 10 oems or user sites which already use SSDs - but no one's got more than a small fraction of the list of future SSD user heavyweights - because they don't exist yet - or if they do - they're in stealth mode.

They can see us - however - and if you're looking in today - then Hi!

The SSD Dark Matter Market is one of the reasons I urge all SSD companies to put more info about what they do on the visible web.

Be clearer explaining what you do.

Don't hide silly obvious stuff behind log-ins and NDAs.

And improve your online signposting. You're just one among hundreds of SSD companies - so to make it easier for the dark matter people to find you.

The new startups don't have the time or patience to follow your tangled old marketing communication threads.

They're not going to tramp around booths at a conference to swap business cards and war stories about the good old days of storage and servers.

Today, tomorrow and the next unknowable 5 years are the good old days for them.

But here's the good part. And you can do something about it.

If the dark matter SSD people like your SSD technology and place it at the heart of their own launch platforms - they could make you seriously rich.

The SSD Dark Matter impact is why the SSD market will grow to be many times bigger than anyone with a sane spreadsheet could possibly expect.

Later:- at the time of writing this blog I was thinking of the web scale companies, the cloud infrastructuralists, and the real time analytics jocks who would change retail, advertising, intelligence and all kinds of data upcycling leveraged activities which previously had been technically impossible to monetize because data processing was too slow and the reach of memory-like latencies were too small.

Looks like we're getting there as many storage taliers now agree that some of these Dark Matter SSD companies are already bigger (use more SSDs) than the world's historically best known 2, 3 and 4 letter named enterprise storage companies.

Here are some more articles in the "SSD thought leadership" series - which have appeared on the home page of
It looks like you're seriously interested in the SSD market.

Here are some more articles you may be interested in.

SSD news
SSD market history
SSD market analysts
RAM ain't what it used to be
how fast can your SSD run backwards?
what's the big picture message re SSDs?
Can you tell me the best way to get to SSD Street?
the classic user value proprositions for buying SSDs
comparing SSDs to other disruptive changes in computer history
will the enterprise SSD market be big enough for all these companies to grow?
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"The SSD riddle game has been running for a long time."
the enterprise SSD box riddle game
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click here to see some more storage market  predictions
....... Spellerbyte's crystal ball had
a far seeing SSD-ray attachment.
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.
Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise
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Every assumption which served you well about the relative sizes of memory and storage in your enterprise world will soon be wrong.
after AFAs - what's next?

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"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

"By 2016, hyperscale datacenters will house more than 50% of raw compute capacity and 70% of raw storage capacity worldwide..."
IDC - from a story in SSD news - December 2014

"If Coho focussed strictly on building systems (architected) at the scale of Facebook's f4 (65PB), we wouldn't have a very large pool of potential customers today.

"(Don't get me wrong: I'd be very happy to talk to you if you are interested in buying so many racks of our product.)"
Andy Warfield , cofounder and CTO - Coho Data - in his blog - Facebook as a file system - a web scale case study (October 9, 2014)


"The Open Compute Project started out as a controversial idea inside Facebook. In 4 short years, it has turned the datacenter computer-hardware industry on its head."
How Facebook is eating the $140 billion hardware market - - (June 2015)


We're now nearing a pivotal point in the enterprise SSD market where the long held assumptions I helped to encourage (especially how many leading systems vendors there will be in the market at the same time) are about to be change dramatically.
90% of enterprise SSD companies have no good reasons to survive
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