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hybrid arrays and SSD ASAPs

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Western Digital buys Tegile as memory shortages shatter utility pricing model assumptions for hybrid storage arrays

Editor:- August 29, 2017 - Western Digital announced today that it has agreed to acquire Tegile.

Editor's comments:- I think the assumptions underlying Tegile's utility model pricing were broken by the memory price hikes in 2017. Who's to blame? Well the SSD companies which were getting most of the benefit. So that's why I think Tegile couldn't sustain itself as an independent company. more analysis

HP values Nimble at > $100K / customer

Editor:- March 7, 2017 - HP today announcement it has agreed to acquire Nimble Storage for just over $1 billion.

See also:- SSD company acquisitions since Y2K

meet the new future hybrid memory systems

Editor:- January 24, 2017 - after AFAs what's the next box to be?

Cloud adapted memory systems - is the answer suggested by a new blog on .

One way to think about this new product type is as a hybrid - which can combine the roles of big memory and SSD storage with ratios determined by a software selector switch. the article

U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs uses RAID Inc. in 5PB SDS

Editor:- December 7, 2016 - A customer news story from RAID Inc. - Department of Veterans Affairs Selects RAID Inc. for Multi-Petabyte Microsoft Storage Spaces Deployment - includes the useful ratio metric that "400TB of flash-accelerated hot tier storage" were used to support 5PB of cold tier data in an InfiniBand attached fault tolerant array which supports over 460,000 devices in more than 280 sites.

See also:- "ratio" - mentions in

Elastifile gets patent for flash-aware adaptive cloud scale data management

Editor:- November 3, 2016 - Elastifile today announced it has been granted a US patent (No. 9,465,558) for a method of flash-native, collaborative data storage when running on multiple interconnected nodes.

Elastifile's technology (which is integrated in software solutions) is aimed at the hybrid cloud market.

The patented technology enables efficient, distributed storage across full-mesh clustered architectures in which all nodes interact with one another across multiple sites and clouds, in complex or constantly varying network conditions, and/or at a scale that may encompass thousands of diverse configurations.

"One of the greatest challenges for private and hybrid cloud data services has been ensuring consistent performance for distributed data writing, especially due to noisy and mixed environments," said Ezra Hoch, chief architect at Elastifile. "Our patented approach adaptively and efficiently manages how and where data is written, mitigating the constantly changing conditions—at cloud scale."

Infinidat has shipped over 400PB

Editor:- May 10, 2016 - Infinidat today announced that in Q1 2016 shipments of its InfiniBox enterprise storage array increased by 300% compared to the year ago period and now amounts to 422 petabytes worldwide. One of Infinidat's Fortune 500 customers now has over 10PBs of InfiniBox storage spread across multiple sites.

HP offers up front guarantees on usable capacity in flash hybrids

Editor:- March 10, 2016 - Taking the guesswork out of the costs of flash array utilization was one of the new pricing trends I wrote about 2 years ago in my article - Exiting the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing.

HP has aligned itself with this trend in a product announcement about high availability updates to its hybrid array family - 3PAR 20840.

Among other things HP says - "The new HPE Get Thinner Guarantee program offers a free, up-front workload assessment and a written assurance of as much as 75% capacity savings that removes guesswork in migrating from legacy storage onto all-flash HPE 3PAR arrays."

PrimaryIO ships applications aware FT caching

Editor:- March 8, 2016 - PrimaryIO (which changed its name from CacheBox in August 2015) today announced the general availability of its Application Performance Acceleration V1.0 (SSD aware software) for VMware vSphere 6.

PrimaryIO APA aggregates server-based flash storage across vSphere clusters as a cluster-wide resource enabling all nodes in the cluster to leverage the flash caching benefits even though a subset may already have flash deployed (as in hybrid arrays). Using application awareness, PrimaryIO APA caches critical, latency-sensitive application IOs in order to boost overall application performance while enabling optimal utilization of data center server and networking resources.

Editor's comments:- in a technology brief (pdf) about their technology - PrimaryIO describes how they use application awareness to intercept data request streams based on its "relative value and ability to accelerate workload performance."

PrimaryIO says this is more efficient in its use of flash than traditional approaches and can get good caching acceleration with a smaller amount of installed SSD capacity than other methods which don't discriminate so accurately.

Avere bridges NASA to the cloud

Editor:- January 19, 2016 - NASA has selected Avere Systems to help consolidate legacy storage and migrate research datasets created at the Ames Research Center over to the Amazon's AWS - it was announced today. Avere says that cloud related latencies will be mitigated by its FlashCloud (SSD ASAP) architecture.

Dell buys EMC

Editor:- October 13, 2015 - Dell has announced it has agreed to acquire EMC for approximately $67 billion. more in archived SSD news

Nimble's sales growth via US distribution wins "Rising Star" award

Editor:- September 28, 2015 - Nimble Storage was recognized for its outstanding sales growth through US distribution channels - it was announced today by the NPD Group whose sales tracker research formed the basis of "Rising Star" awards presented at a recent Global Technology Distribution Council summit.

Dot Hill acquisition could reposition Seagate as one of the leading standard platforms in the highly competitive legacy enterprise hybrid storage appliance market

Editor:- August 18, 2015 - Seagate today announced it will acquire Dot Hill Systems in an all-cash transaction valued at $9.75 per share, or a total of approximately $694 million.

Editor's comments:- this is a good strategic move for Seagate which now secures an enterprise market proven hybrid storage caching and tiering technology which can be used as a framework for hybrid appliances and cloud infrastructure.

The enterprise software stack and patent IP assets from Dot Hill will enable Seagate to credibly position its SSD caching technologies as second to none in mid range traditional legacy enterprise environments.

Dot Hill's marketing had been foundering around for a few years and the company was seemingly unable to get the kind of market attention it would have got if it were offering the same technology as a startup. Part of the problem was that - as an old time company from the dotcom era - which had relied on 3rd party companies oeming its products - Dot Hill had neglected to develop the same kind of marketing charisma and brand identity as many of the newer companies which it has been competing with.

As part of Seagate - Dot Hill 's caching technology could become a viable alternative platform for integrators who want to compete with newer vendors Tegile, Nimble, NexGen and hybrids from older vendors like HP and EMC.

NexGen decouples from Fusion-io accelerator juice with NVMe readiness

Editor:- June 30, 2015 - As previously signaled - NexGen Storage has decoupled itself from relying on SanDisk's PCIe SSD product line in its hybrid storage arrays with the announcement today that it has introduced NVMe readiness as an update in its software services. This paves the way for expanding the systems product line with a wider range of 3rd party internal SSD accelerators having different price and workload capabilities.

what does Tegile's customer survey tell us?

Tegile survey re enterprise customersEditor:- June 25, 2015 - A recently published survey conducted among customers of Tegile reveals some interesting insights into the demographics of Tegile's business but also - just as interesting - provides a spectrum of weighted answers about why people bought enterprise flash arrays and the perceived benefits.

Among the many results - the most interesting for me were:-
  • "36% plan to use their Tegile storage to accelerate the development of new products and services. Customers can create read/write clones of production databases. This enables them to get new applications into production faster without consuming a lot of storage space."

    Editor's comments:- that's a classic enterprise SSD advantage related to a pain point which I was discussing with users over 10 years ago.

    Users who don't have the performance freedom which SSDs deliver - but who struggle even to keep their legacy platforms running sluggishly - know there must be better things they can do with their raw business intelligence - but are too scared to interact with the production data. And designing new systems based on sampling - doesn't give the full picture.
  • Tegile says "51% of customers expect to see an ROI in 12 months or less."

    Editor's comments:- that's confirmation of something I said in my article - year of the enterprise SSD goldrush?

    "what's driving this confidence is that their customers have done the pilots- they've done the product tweaks - the biggest customers have finished their cautious rollouts - and they're coming back asking for more than more. The user mood is changing from - can I afford to use SSDs? - to a realization that - I can't afford not to use SSDs." (October 2011)

    What Tegile's survey confirms is that the same advantages which were first experienced by early adopters do indeed trickle down and deliver similar impacts to mainstream users (if the products are priced in a way which is attractive enough to tempt new customers to experiment.
The survey findings which I've commented on above - probably apply to any leading AFA vendor and not just Tegile.

Here are some interesting results which are specific to Tegile's business.
  • Re the importance of offering "unified" connectivity (FC+IP) - "over half (53%) were using more than one storage protocol with their Tegile arrays."

    Editor's comments:- that's a higher proportion than I had assumed. Which also is consistent with the broad spectrum of traditional storage suppliers that Tegile has been displacing (another aspect shown in the survey).
  • Re customer satisfaction? - 92% of responders said that they'd recommend Tegile.

    Editor's comments:- that's a good story for a company whose business model has been so reliant on external funding to sustain its growth.

    But how sticky is brand loyalty in the enterprise flash market? Especially when we're entering a period where I predict that over 90% of enterprise SSD brands will disappear?

    Let's just say that high customer satisfaction is an excellent achievement but that a customer who has switched once because they saw a good reason to do so - is a customer who could easily switch again. While Tegile has some sticky service and software solutions in its product delivery - don't be beguiled by statements like the above - if and when you consider the IPO.

    And - on the perils of extrapolating inferences from surveys - 96 users - the customers who took part in the survey - aren't the whole market. the article - Why do people use Tegile Flash Storage?

Coho adds all flash SSD nodes to its hybrid population mix

Editor:- May 20, 2015 - Coho Data today announced it has closed $30 million in Series C funding, bringing its total funding to nearly $67 million.

The round was led by March Capital Partners, with additional participation from HP Ventures and Intel Capital as well as existing investors Andreessen Horowitz and Ignition Partners.

Coho Data also announced the general availability of its first all-flash storage node, the DataStream 2000f a 2U server based system which uses Intel's P3600 2.5" NVMe SSDs and conventional SATA SSDs.

Coho says that using a judicious mix of its variously populated SSDservers (which includes micro-tiered hybrid systems as well as the new pure SSD nodes) "empowera customers to efficiently support any application at any scale, all from a "single pane of glass" management interface, and all at less than $0.10/GB usable per month."

NetApp has stopped suing Nimble

Editor:- March 31, 2015 - Nimble Storage recently announced it recently entered into a written settlement agreement with NetApp re alledged misuse of trade secrets etc dating back to 2012-2013. The terms of the settlement are confidential and are not material to Nimble's financial statements.

SanDisk spins off NexGen

Editor:- January 8, 2015 - SanDisk today clarified that "Hybrid systems incorporating hard-disk drives are not part of SanDisk's strategic focus."

This strategy direction statement by Sumit Sadana, executive VP and chief strategy officer, SanDisk was part of an announcement today that SanDisk has completed the spin-out of Fusion-io's ioControl (hybrid SSD systems) business as a separate company called NexGen Storage.

SanDisk has agreed to be a supplier of PCIe flash storage technology to NexGen but will not maintain an ownership interest.

NexGen will be led by John Spiers who was co-founder and CEO of the original NexGen company before its acquisition by Fusion-io in April 2013 (for $119 million).

Editor's comments:- In retrospect Fusion-io's acquisition of NexGen was a mistake.

Fusion didn't have enough cash or people resources to invest in bootstrapping 2 entirely new systems businesses (one in the fast SSD rackmount market, and the other (based on NexGen) in the hybrid SSD appliance market) at a time when both markets were already becoming much more specialized and differentiated.

Can NexGen succeed as a standalone company?

Hundreds of other companies are also competing in the hybrid market - so you can ask them. Most likely NexGen will get acquired again.

now ready - Enmotus's FuzeDrive software

Editor:- November 4, 2014 - Micro-tiering within the server box - between the lowest possible latency persistent memory (such as flash backed DRAM DIMMs from Viking), then up a level to SATA SSDs and finally to hard drives - gives users materially different performance and cost characteristics to merely caching between those devices when they are used in a hybrid storage appliance.

That's the message behind the announcement today by Enmotus about the general availability of the company's FuzeDrive server (SSD software) for Windows and Linux - in which (unlike simple server based cache based solutions) - FuzeDrive treats the SSD as primary storage and so "all reads and writes to the hot data occur at full SSD speeds".

""Even SSDs are becoming bottlenecks in some cases" said Marshall Lee, CTO and co-founder of Enmotus. "As a result, newer classes of storage devices continue to appear that can take advantage of higher performance busses inside servers, NVDIMMs being a great example."

Samsung acquires Proximal

Editor:- November 3, 2014 - Samsung announced today it has acquired Proximal Data.

Editor's comments:- Why did Samsung need to acquire another SSD ASAP / caching company?

Samsung's earlier purchase - NVELO (acquired in December 2012) - operated in the consumer market - whereas Proximal's caching technology was designed to work with enterprise PCIe SSDs - a market in which Samsung is a relative newcomer - and in which Samsung stood out from other leading competitors in having no caching software it could call its own.

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?

say hello to CacheIO

Editor:- June 10, 2014 - CacheIO today announced results of a benchmark which is described by their collaborator Orange Silicon Valley (a telco) as - "One of the top tpm benchmark results accelerating low cost iSCSI SATA storage."

CacheIO says that the 2 million tpm benchmark on CacheIO accelerated commodity servers and storage shows that users can deploy its flash cache to accelerate their database performance without replacing or disrupting their existing servers and storage.

Editor's comments:- The only reason I mention this otherwise me-too sounding benchmark is because although I've known about CacheIO and what they've been doing with various organizations in the broadcast and telco markets for over a year - I didn't list them on before.

That was partly because they didn't want me to name the customers they were working with at that time - but also because with SSD caching companies becoming almost as numerous as tv stations on a satellite dish - I wanted to wait and see if they would be worth a repeat viewing. (And now I think they they are.)

surge of interest in hybrid SSD arrays

Editor:- June 2, 2014 - Hybrid SSD arrays - which includes auto-tiering / caching and other SSD accelerated pools of storage - became 1 of the top 3 product classifications viewed by readers in May. (It's only taken 5 years to get this much attention.)

VMware enters the SSD ASAP market

March 6, 2014 - With the launch of its Virtual SAN - VMware has at last joined the crowding SSD software ecosystem as a lead SSD player rather than (as before) in a subordinate role (as the legacy software dancing partner - a bit like dancing with your uncle or aunt at the wedding disco) which was the case before in hundreds of acceleration compatibility stories narrated by other SSD companies.

VSAN version 1.0 is an SSD ASAP (hybrid virtualizing appliance) - which supports 3-8 server nodes. The company says that "support for more than 8 will come later." the details.

Editor's comments:- first impressions? It's late and doesn't look great (in features). But it will probably be deemed adequate for many users starting down this road.

Before dismissing it entirely (as some commentators and competitors have already done) let's remember that when LSI entered the SSD market in January 2010 - it was the "163rd company to enter the SSD market". And look where they are now.

Being late to market doesn't count as a mortal sin in the SSD marketing lexicon right now because first mover advantage (pdf) assumptions aren't valid in this phase of the market's development.

more comments re VSAN

"Our customers who had the opportunity to participate in the VSAN beta told us that in most cases, (our) Maxta MxSP performs better" - said competitor Yoram Novick, founder Maxta in his blog - Software-Defined Storage – the Devil is in the Details

"I'm especially proud of how the team has outperformed expectations. Today we're announcing GA support for 32 nodes. That means that Virtual SAN can now scale from a modest 3 node remote office, to a multi-petabyte, mega-IOPS monster — just by adding more server resources... and ...VSAN isn't bolted on, it's built in." - says Ben Fathi, CTO VMware - in his blog - Virtual SAN: Powerfully Simple and Simply Powerful

Coho Data now shipping 2U MicroArray hybrids

Editor:- March 6, 2014 - Coho Data today announced general availability of its first product - a 2U SSD ASAP called the DataStream (an SSDserver 4/E box) - which integrates PCIe SSDs, hard drives and a server into a web scale expandable unit (using an internal 52 port 10GbE fabric switch) to implement what the company refers to as a "MicroArray" designed with the philosophy of "Turning Tiering Upside Down (pdf)" to deliver a base building block unit of 180K IOPS performance (4KB).

Editor's comments:- you can judge the lofty scale of Coho Data's ambitions by this market soothsayer quote which they integrated in the launch press release - ""By 2017, Web-scale IT will be an architectural approach found operating in 50% of Global 2000 enterprises."

See also:- SSD empowered cloud, SSD hybrid arrays, the enterprise SSD software event horizon

Atlantis enters SSD ASAP market

Editor:- February 11, 2014 - Atlantis Computing today launched the new "In-Memory Storage Technology" release of its storage virtualization software - called Atlantis ILIO USX - which can significantly increase enterprise utilization by enabling users to deploy up to 5x more VMs on their existing storage. See also:- ILIO USX faqs (pdf)

10,000 sites use DataCore

Editor:- December 16, 2013 - DataCore today announced that over 10,000 customer sites have used its software.

DataCore's stance re enterprise SSD architecture is that most users can (for the time being) resist the siren calls of SSD makers towards all flash enterprise storage - because "only 5% of workloads require top tier performance. And businesses have turned to auto-tiering software to make sure applications are sharing flash and spinning disk, based on the need to optimize performance and investment."

new blog by PernixData describes the intermediate states of play for its HA clustered write acceleration SSD cache

Editor:- November 5, 2013 - In a clustered, SSD ASAP VM environment which supports both read and write acceleration it's essential to know the detailed policies of any products you're considering - to see if the consequences - on data vulnerability and performance comply with strategies which are acceptable for your own intended uses.

In a new blog - Fault Tolerant Write Acceleration by Frank Denneman Technology Evangelist at PernixData describes in a rarely seen level of detail the various states which his company's FVP goes through when it recognizes that a fault has occured in either server or flash. And the blog describes the temporary consequences - such as loss of acceleration - which occur until replacement hardware is pulled in and configured automatically by the system software.

Stating the design principles of this product - Frank Denneman says - "Data loss needs to be avoided at all times, therefore the FVP platform is designed from the ground up to provide data consistency and availability. By replicating write data to neighboring flash devices data loss caused by host or component failure is prevented. Due to the clustered nature of the platform FVP is capable to keep the state between the write data on the source and replica hosts consistent and reduce the required space to a minimum without taxing the network connection too much." the article

high availability enterprise SSDs

more tiers reduce waste - says Chris M Evans

Editor:- October 2, 2013 - The wastefulness of conventional storage tiering is discussed in a blog - Moving On From Storage Tiering - by Chris M Evans, publisher of Architecting IT - who advocates the concept of having an infinite number of tiers so that - "each server will be closer to receiving the performance level they need."

He goes on to say - "If we can deliver that, move the data between tiers dynamically and fix the wasted capacity issue within each tier, then we have our ultimate storage device." the article

Editor's comments:- The problem with implementing this is that the most economical way to design storage systems is still dependent on the likely speed and capacity characteristics.

People buy products and they have to understand the differences between the products they see in the market. (That job of segmentation is just as important for marketers to implement precisely as the easier bits they spend more time and money on.)

When I analyzed all the different types of SSDs you need in the datacenter - from the architecture and use cases point of view - I got to about 7 different types - which are distinctly different - as described in my SSD silos model - which covers the spectrum from ultrafast RAM to archive solid state storage.

An SSD product which has been optimized for any one of these distinct uses will be uneconomic or less competitive for the other uses.

Therefore I think infinite tiers - as proposed in Chris M Evans's blog - can exist OK as logical concepts in software - but these infinite tiers will still have to map onto a distinct set of no more than maybe 3 to 4 different physical SSD tiers in most customer sites. Otherwise they will be wasteful and too expensive.

In the currently forseeable state of semiconductor memories - the physics and the SSD controller architecture favor designs in which you know in advance what kind of use the memory cell population in each part of your SSD is being optimized for.

Training for a sprint requires a different care conditioning regime to training for a marathon. Although you can switch streams and repurpose cells dynamically - which is what adaptive R/W is all about - this is done within the context of knowing which kind of race the SSD is in from the outset. Running half a marathon fast and then dying due to dehydration is not an attractive product option.

Proximal Data announces AutoCache version 2

Editor:- August 26, 2013 - Proximal Data today announced the release of version 2.0 of AutoCache (SSD ASAP software). Pricing starts at $999 per host for flash caches less than 500GB.

The company has been demonstrating the new version working with PCIe SSDs from Micron at VMworld.

Tegile says its sales exceed its VC funding

Editor:- August 13, 2013 - Tegile Systems today announced the closing of its $35 million Round C funding led by late-stage venture firm Meritech Capital Partners with additional investment by original stakeholder August Capital and strategic partners WD and SanDisk.

Editor's comments:- Tegile says that unlike some other VC funded companies in this market space which have lived mostly on investments Tegile has generated more customer revenue than it has taken in outside financing.

OCZ ships PCIe SSD based SQL accelerator

Editor:- July 23, 2013 - OCZ today announced the general availability of its ZD-XL SQL Accelerator - an SSD ASAP appliance - delivered as a PCIe SSD (600GB, 800GB or 1.6TB) and bundled software - which optimizes caching of SQL Server data in Windows environments - and can provide upto 25x faster database performance.

Editor's comments:- One of the differentiators in SSD caching products is the sophistication of their behavior when viewed from a time basis. This is 1 of the 11 key SSD symmetries - which I call "age symmetry".

In this respect - a key feature of ZD-XL SQL Accelerator is its business-rule pre-warming cache engine and cache warm-up analyzer that monitors SQL Server workloads and automatically pre-loads the cache in advance of critical, demanding or important SQL Server jobs. It achieves this by identifying repeated access patterns that enable DBAs to set periodic time schedules to pre-load the cache.

This product won Best of Show Award at an event called Interop in May.

WD catches VeloBit

Editor:- July 10, 2013 - For the past 15 years from what I've seen - the ultimate business aim of most storage software companies has been - to get acquired.

That's been even more true in the SSD software market - wherein frankly - most companies don't even pretend to invest in sustainable business models.

In the past 2 years - an SSD software company has been acquired every 2 months (on average) and the latest company sustaining that trend is VeloBit which has been acquired by WD for deployment by its subsidiary HGST - it was announced today.

In case you've forgotten why this trend started - software makes it easier to sell more SSDs and the ROI from a vendor's point of view is better than doubling the sales force. That's why valuations (not disclosed in this case yet) have been so disconnected from the financial outlook of the ISV's themselves.

FlashSoft 3.2

Editor:- June 19, 2013 - SanDisk recently announced a new version - 3.2 - of its FlashSoft (SSD caching software) for Windows Server ($3,000), and Linux ($3,500). New in this release is high availability support with low latency SSD mirroring for "safe write-back" caching. Improvements include:- larger cache sizes upto 2TB per cache and upto 8TB cache per server. Also the number of volumes supported by a single cache has increased from 255 to 2048.

Editor's comments:- Many enterprise SSD users - who wouldn't dream of approaching SanDisk to use its raw SSDs in their enterprise projects - are more than willing to use their enterprise SSD software and share their ideas about their enterprise SSD problems and their experiences. Can SanDisk really software to transform itself into an enterprise SSD heavyweight?

Stec's profiler removes guesswork in sizing SSD caches for hybrid storage pools

Editor:- May 21, 2013 - Stec today announced that it's offering a free profiling tool - EnhanceIO Profiler - which can enable users to determine how much benefit they would get from using its EnhanceIO (SSD caching software) - before they even install any SSDs.

The company says that the "non-disruptive installation" can save hours of administrative trial and error by recommending the optimal block size, and the capacity and type of SSDs to be used for maximum performance gain. See also:- will SSDs end bottlenecks - and cure all my server speed worries?

Intels oems LSI's RAID caching SSD technology

Editor:- April 8, 2013 - Intel - which already uses LSI's SandForce controllers in some SSDs - will oem LSI's dual-core RAID-on-Chip flash caching technology it was announced today.

LSI says their caching technology can double the number of VDI sessions supported in the same sever and flash environment.

"Intel's selection of LSI Nytro MegaRAID technology is another significant validation of our strategic focus and investments in flash-based server acceleration technology," said Gary Smerdon, senior VP and GM, Accelerated Solutions, LSI.

QLogic launches FabricCache PCIe SSD

Editor:- March 22, 2013 - QLogic yesterday entered the enterprise SSD market (in the PCI SSD and SSD ASAPs segments) with the launch its first product - the FabricCache 10000 Series adapter (pdf) - which provides transparent sharable and clusterable caching for FC SANs.

The 2 card set (upto 400GB flash, and 2x 8Gbps FC ports) can deliver upto 310,000 initiator IOPS and supports upto 2,048 concurrent logins.

Editor's comments:- for a lot more about this - see SSD news.

another $24 million funding for Nexenta

Editor:- February 27, 2013 - Nexenta Systems today announced it has secured $24 million in Series D financing.

The company's SSD ASAP software - called NexentaStor - currently supports SSDs from the following companies:- DDRdrive, HGST, InnoDisk , Intel, LSI, OCZ, SanDisk, Seagate, SMART and STEC - according to Nexenta's hardware support list (pdf).

Software - the new reason to reconsider Intel's server SSDs

Editor:- February 13, 2013 - Intel yesterday announced that in the next 30 days it will ship a Linux version of the SSD caching software - based on IP from its acquisition of NEVEX last August. The products have been rebranded as Intel® CAS (Cache Acceleration Software).

Editor's comments:- I would categorize Intel's current generation of enterprise SSD solutions (which includes the same old indifferent SSDs working with the new CAS software) as being in the medium to fast-enough performance range.

Suitable customers might be end users who have never used SSD acceleration before - or users with apps which don't need the higher speeds offered by competing SSD bundled drive / module packages from Fusion-io, SanDisk and OCZ - and customers who don't want to do their caching via dedicated rackmount based products from the dozens of other vendors listed in the SSD ASAPs directory.

The market segment addressed by these new Intel products is the early majority of enterprise SSD adopters - who will be reassured by the perceived safety of buying into the dangerous world of solid state storage acceleration from a value based brand.

I spoke about the new CAS software to Intel product manager Andrew Flint who cofounded NEVEX and I learned some useful things about the product.

The first question I asked was - how many PCIe SSDs can the CAS product support in a single server? And were there any graphs showing how performance drops off or is maintained when you do that.

The answer was - this info isn't publicly available right now. Although it may be in the future.

That's when I concluded that Intel CAS (married to current generation Intel SSDs) isn't a fast product - and is not in the kind of performance league where a user would seriously worry about this type of scalability problem.

Intel's ideal end-user customers right now for CAS are people who have been using no SSD acceleration at all coupled with hard drive arrays. That performance silo could change - with faster Intel SSDs in the future - and isn't due to limiting characteristics in the software.

I asked - Does it support 3rd party SSDs?

I was told - the standard release only supports Intel SSDs. But there's nothing in principle to prevent it being used with other SSDs using the open source release of the software.

The product is a read cache. I was told that it makes very good use of whatever RAM is in the server to optimize both read and write performance. However, my view is that as Intel SSDs aren't fast - this is somewhat academic.

I asked about the time constants which are analyzed by the caching software - and learned that - depending on the app - the data usage period which is analyzed goes up to days. (Generally in this type of product longer is better - and when you go up from milli-seconds and seconds to minutes, hours and days - you have the potential to get better caching results.)

I learned that Intel CAS isn't written around the data structure or interface - and is hardware agnostic. Users can tell the software which apps they want to cache - via a control panel. This is very useful in environments where a single server is running a mix of apps - some of which are critical (in performance needs) while others are not.

I asked - does the CAS have to have advance knowledge of the app? - Is it optimized for a preset list of apps?

I was told - No. It will work just as well for - what I called - dark matter software- which might be a proprietary app which no one else knew about.

I asked if Intel collects stats from the general population of installed servers which use the software? - in order to improve tuning algorithms...

I was told - No. The optimizations (data eviction probability rates) are done based on what is learned on the customer's own server and private data - and the factory shipped software. There isn't a wider intelligence learning or gathering or snooping function.

I learned that a special feature of this Intel CAS release is the ability to share cache resources with a remote SSD. The data stays hot and doesn't have to be recreated when different virtual machines are accessing this type of resource.

Overall I came away with a good impression of the CAS software and how well the NEVEX technology idea has been assimilated into Intel's SSD business.

It will undoubtedly help Intel sell more SSDs to people who have never used enterprise SSDs before - and maybe also to people with low end apps who have used SSD acceleration before but whose first choice of SSDs wouldn't otherwise have been Intel.

Proximal Data - case study

Editor:- January 28, 2013 - Proximal Data today announced details of a new case study (pdf) re the use of its SSD ASAP software (AutoCache ) to trim 30 hours off the monthly SAS analytics report for a financial customer which used to take 36.5 hours.

Editor:- when SSD software companies start talking about real customers - the acquisition press releases follow not long behind based on recent SSD history.

Violin acquires GridIron

Editor:- January 21, 2013 - Violin today announced it has acquired GridIron Systems.

Editor's comments:- in October 2012 I listed GridIron as 1 of the 3 main contenders to Fusion-io in the enterprise SSD software stakes -with the qualifying comment...

"GridIron - probably has the most sophisticated SSD ASAP software in the industry. But it's a shame it has been tied (until recently) to their hardware - an SSD HDD hybrid box."

Today's announcement - which adds to the growing list of notable SSD acquisitions in the modern era of the SSD market - will enable Violin to strengthen its already established authority in the enterprise SSD rack market.

Imation acquires Nexsan

Editor:- January 2, 2013 - Imation today announced it has acquired Nexsan (which among other things is in the rackmount hybrid SSD ASAPs market) for $120 million.

OCZ starts beta testing SSD cached Linux accelerator

Editor:- December 17, 2012 - OCZ today has begun a beta test program for its Linux Acceleration (LXL) cache software which the company says can intelligently reduce external traffic by upto 90%. LXL - which supports the company's own enterprise SSDs across a range of interfaces - splits the caching policy engine between the core mechanism running in the Linux kernel and an advanced statistical out-of-band analysis module that optimally determines which data needs to be placed in the local SSD cache. General availability is anticipated to be Q2 next year.

SSD HDD ratios in big data? - blog by Panasas

Editor:- December 11, 2012 - "An important piece of our research involved determining how much SSD capacity customers would need...

" and whether it would make a big enough difference in system performance to be worth the incremental cost of including SSD storage in the system. To do this, we extracted key data from production file systems in the field..." - says Geoffrey Noer, Sr. Director of Product Marketing at Panasas in his recent blog SSDs and parallel storage (part 3) - in which he also says that in HPC workloads users can get good enough results by using as little as 1.5% ratio of SSD to HDD - compared to (read his blog if you want to see the exact ratio) needed for financial and other markets.

Editor's comments:- Although I was told about the earlier episodes in this blog series - which includes an introduction to SSDs - I didn't mention them before - because I assume if you don't already have a good idea of what's an SSD? before you get to these pages - then you won't linger here very long.

Another reason for my earlier reticence about these Panasas blogs - is I think that a description of SSDs written from the viewpoint of an SSD ASAP company whose boxes average over 90% hard drives - may be subtly tilted to a perspective which I consider to be a sideline along the enterprise SSD adoption road rather than the straightest way to the final destination.

Nevertheless - to give credit where it's due - some of the other past blogs I've seen from Panasas have included valuable insights which are storage media agnostic.

I've said to a couple of readers recently (including a Panasas customer) - that if I had to make a list of the last 5 companies on this planet which I thought would still be shipping hard drives in arrays into the enterprise - then Panasas would be one of them. That's because a small group of companies have invested enough talent into new ways of managing large HDD populations in a more effective and efficient way than the small controller architecture of classical RAID systems.

It will be lonely for the HDD array sales guys when that happens - just as it has become quiet in the tape library industry conferences.

Enmotus demonstrates its automated MicroTiering SSD technology

Editor:- November 27, 2012 - Enmotus is demonstrating its auto-tiering software for the first time in public this week at the Server Design Summit.

SSDs and boats and planes

Editor:- October 11, 2012 - a recent blog by Pure Storage asks - what's the risk of over promising and under delivering with hybrid storage arrays?

When this blog talks about hybrids the meaning - in this context - is flash and HDD hybrid boxes - not flash and PCM or some other combination of faster and slower SSDs.

Among other things - the article says " imagine if you showed up to board your international flight, and they put you on a ship instead?" the article

QLogic signals intention to enter SSD ASAP market

Editor:- September 7, 2012 - QLogic yesterday announced its intention to enter the SSD ASAP market.

The company says its so called Mt. Rainier technology will support industry standard PCIe SSDs and SAS SSDs - and will connect via the company's HBAs and drivers.

The 1st product in this family will connect via traditional Fibre Channel HBA. Details released so far are too vague to make an assessment of how useful or competitive this product will be when it sees the light of day.

FlashMAX is FlashSoft compatible

Editor:- August 27, 2012 - Virident's PCIe SSDs are supported by SanDisk's FlashSoft auto-caching software - it was announced today.

The companies say this collaboration includes sales, joint testing and validation programs, and support and services assistance.

Editor's comments:- the thinking behind SanDisk's strategic decision to support competing SSD hardware with its software was one of the things which I learned in a recent interview with the company.

An Analyst Perspective on SSD Caching vs. Tiering

Editor:- August 23, 2012 - Here's a short note from - Demartek's paper - SSD Caching vs. SSD Tiering – Which Is Better? (pdf) - presented today at the Flash Memory Summit.

"Both caching and tiering are effective at improving enterprise workload performance. Caching is easier to manage - but there are both cache-friendly and cache-unfriendly workloads. Some vendors who started with one are offering the other." the article (pdf)

Nimble expands on scalability

Editor:- August 6, 2012 - "Scalability" - in SSDs and storage - means different things to different people - and this is one of the themes discussed in my SSD symmetries article.

So I was curious to see what Nimble Storage meant by the word "scale" - as it's used more than 30 times in a recent press release from the company about a new range of rackmount SSD ASAPs.

A blog by Nimble's CEO, Suresh Vasudevan yesterday gives a more precise explanation of what they mean - which is in effect - you can scale capacity by adding hard drives or scale performance by adding SSDs - or do a bit of both - "without ever disrupting applications."

Nimble's systems span a much narrower range of performance scalability than you would see across the enterprise environment - so I'm not sure if scalability is the word I would have chosen to describe what they do. "Flexibility and convenient management within a useful application footprint" is probably more accurate - but doesn't sound so hot.

Another $25 million funding for Tintri

Editor:- July 24, 2012 - hybrid NAS rackmount SSD ASAP maker Tintri today announced it has closed a $25 million funding round which brings the company's total capital raised to over $60 million.

AutoCache for PCIe SSDs

Editor:- July 23, 2012 - Proximal Data announced immediate availability of its first product - a software based SSD ASAP - designed to work with PCIe SSDs - in particular - products from LSI and Micron.

AutoCache ($999 for cache sizes less than 500GB) reduces bottlenecks in virtualized servers to increase VM density, efficiency and performance. The company says it can increase VM density upto 3x with absolutely no impact on IT operations.

Editor's comments:- here are some questions I asked about the new product - and the answers I got from Rich Pappas, Proximal's VP of sales and business development.

Editor:- How long does it take for the algorithms to reach peak efficiency?

Pappas:- It varies by workload, but typically it takes about 15 minutes for the cache to warm to reach peak efficiency.

Editor:- Is the caching only on reads, or is it effective on writes too?

Pappas:- AutoCache will only cache reads, but by virtue of relieving the backend datastore from read traffic, we have actually seen overall write performance improvements as well. This effect is also dependent on the workload.

Overland enters SSD ASAP market

Editor:- July 11, 2012 - Overland today made its long overdue début into SSD market history with the announcement that it uses SSD auto acceleration in its SnapSAN (iSCSI / FC SAN) hybrid storage racks to get upto 8x faster file performance.

STEC releases SSD cache software for any make of SSD

Editor:- June 6, 2012 - STEC today announced the general availability of the company's EnhanceIO SSD Cache Software for Linux and Windows environments with pricing starting from $295 and $495 (per server) for a 1 year subscription.

STEC says its SSD cache software can used with any vendor's SAS, Fibre Channel, PCIe or SATA SSD.

In addition, a Linux version of EnhanceIO SSD Cache Software, based on Facebook's Flashcache caching module, will be made available under a general public license (GPLv2).

"As one of the original architects of Flashcache, I'm extremely pleased to see this technology being enhanced and supported by STEC in their EnhanceIO software," said Mohan Srinivasan, software engineer at Facebook. "Flashcache has proven to be an invaluable tool for accelerating application performance at Facebook."

Users can choose from a selection of caching schemes and block sizes to suit their preference and SSD's capabilities. STEC stores the metadata for the cache in system DRAM rather than in the SSD. The DRAM required for the cache is 0.1% of the cache size so a terabyte of SSD cache requires about 1GB of DRAM support. Product support tools include a profiler which can collect user data and suggest the best policy option parameters for the cache setup.

Editor's comments:- irrespective of the technical strengths and weaknesses (and pricing model) of the this new product compared to other competing SSD ASAP / caching offerings - one question which immediately springs to mind is this.

How serious is STEC about making this software work as a standalone product? And if it becomes successful will the company be tempted to bundle it free with its own SSDs?

NEVEX offers free trial of $5K value Linux caching software

Editor:- May 29, 2012 - NEVEX says it's offering the 1st 30 people who trial its SSD ASAP / caching software for Linux - the option to keep the production version free.

I spoke a few minutes ago to Nigel Miller, VP Business Development, NEVEX - to test if his phone number is correct - because that's the response mechanism.

I asked how much can some one save by taking up the offer?

He said the regular price will be $5,000 per cached terabyte.

I also said it was unusual in the web industry to have nothing on their web site about this - and he said they wanted a quick and easy way to talk to people. He also said that if you are one of the early responders you will get good access to their technical support people. As time is of the essence here's the number if you're interested:- +1 647-393-2200

60 seconds to make your SSDs accelerate even faster

Editor:- May 8, 2012 - VeloBit today released 1.1 of its SSD caching software for Linux called HyperCache. (VMware and Windows versions are in Beta.

Editor's comments:- I spoke to VeloBit's CEO, Duncan McCallum about the company and the new product.

Like many other SSD ASAP software packages HyperCache ducks the problem of how to manage high availability environments by effectively only caching host reads and bypassing the caching SSD when doing host writes.

Duncan said the software is efficient in its use of host resources. It takes up less than 3% of host server CPU cycles and about 2% of RAM (compared to the capacity of the attached SSD cache).

How is VeloBit's caching software different?

In use - the company says its content locality caching uses the signatures of the data patterns which already are used frequently and have lots of references in order to predict and prioritize the caching of similar looking data. In that respect - the cache manager is learning something which is unique to that apps environment rather than simply caching blocks based on where they are address-wise relative to the current hot data.

In its business model - Duncan said he wanted to make VeloBit's software easy to adopt and install via web marketing. A design goal was to make HyperCache capable of being installed in under 10 minutes. He said the new launch version typically installs in under 60 seconds!

VeloBit has tested their software with SSDs in various form factors from leading companies including OCZ, Fusion-io and Virident.

Duncan commented that when it came to PCIe SSDs - they found their software produced the best results with Virident - which he said produced the fastest SSD caching results of any SSD they had yet tested.

Other aspects of VeloBit's offering (to me) look similar to many other previous SSD software products:- internal compression, write attenuation, real-time dedupe and pricing on a per CPU basis.

With so many companies vying for the same customer share of mind the thing which stands out for me is the 60 seconds install time. Even allowing for a degree of future software bloat - the slowest part about acquiring new SSD ASAP software could soon become typing in your credit card details.

still waiting to learn more about GridIron's SSDs?

Editor:- April 24, 2012 - GridIron Systems yesterday announced that it is approaching petabyte scale FC SAN SSD capability with its OneAppliance auto-tiering product family which will be shipping next month.

Building blocks include:-
  • FlashCube (1 million IOPS, 10GB/s R/W, upto 100TB)
  • iNode (40 core TB RAM with 100TB flash)
  • RackPack (40 server system with 4 million IOPS, 40GB/s bandwidth and 250TB of Flash
Editor's comments:- I took the unusual step (for me) of registering with GridIron's website so I could read the product details. I had asked the company last December to remove this anti-informational inquiry process - but the barrier is still in place. Today it took far too many many minutes for their web site to come back with a message saying that I could now be allowed to read their datasheets. But by then I had used up my time budget.

GridIron's blogs suggest that because their systems are so fast - you'll get better results using their racks for big data analytics instead of other SSDs - and in particular PCIe SSDs like those from Fusion-io, OCZ and LSI.

Are you going to wait 5 minutes or more on their web site to get information which you should be able to see immediately so you can decide how credible is their claim that they can save you time and money with their proprietary solution?

Someone should tell their VCs that this company is still in stealth mode when it comes to web based communications.

And SSD racks versus PCIe SSDs is a flawed analysis anyway. Most enterprises will need and use both.

...Later:- April 28, 2012 - GridIron's CTO, Som Sikdar responded to my criticism above and said the company is sorry and will review and improve the information accessibility on its website. And a few days later - the log-in wall was removed.

Diverse views emerge on SSD caching / tiering video

Editor:- April 26, 2012 - In a 50 minutes panel discussion YouTube is SSD simply a big cache or a real storage tier? - moderated by Chris Evans, editor of the Storage Architect.

Participating in this discussion on SSD ASAPs were representatives from EMC, STEC, Nimble Storage, Velobit, SolidFire and Virident.

The discussion ranged from - where's the best place to put SSDs? and which agency should determine where to put the hot data? The app or the storage system? Here are just some of the ideas expressed in the talk.

Caching is best because it's simple to deploy and scale - and you don't have to bet your career or your business future if it goes wrong - (and discover new bottlenecks which you didn't know about before).

Caching is a short term fix. SSD is a tier.

You need both caching and tiering.

SSDs provide new possibilities which means maybe the SSD shouldn't be hidden by caching - but remain visible to SSD specific APIs.

You don't see any of the big HDD storage box makers in the biggest customer data centers like Amazon, Google and FaceBook. The HDD isn't a datacenter device anymore - hard drives just live in the cloud.

See also:- the SSD Heresies

VeloBit readies for SSD ASAP software launch

Editor:- April 9, 2012 - in the run up to to launching its HyperCache product line (SSD ASAP software) - VeloBit today announced the appointment of Mike LaPeters as VP of Sales.

"SSD adoption in the enterprise has been stalled by the cost and complexity of deploying SSD" said Mike LaPeters. "VeloBit offers a non-disruptive, cost-effective means to scale IT performance. I look forward to using my experience from working with thousands of storage customers to help companies quickly, easily and inexpensively deploy SSD."

Dataram monetizes SSD ASAP IP while retaining XcelaSAN

Editor:- April 4, 2012 - Dataram today announced it has sold its patents portfolio related to solid state storage and SSD ASAPs for $5 million to Phan Tia Group.

Dataram retains a license to continue to use the patents in current and future Dataram products including XcelaSAN with limited rights to transfer its license. ipCapital Group assisted in patent valuation, and supported Dataram on the negotiation and successful close of this transaction.

"This transaction represents an exceptional opportunity to fund new growth initiatives while at the same time it protects our current product portfolio" said John Freeman, Dataram President and CEO. "The license granted to Dataram under this Agreement will also allow us to market, develop and sell XcelaSAN as well as other existing and new Dataram products that incorporate the technology based on these patents. They are all protected under the Patent Purchase Agreement."

Editor's comments:- this is a good deal for Dataram. This way they retain their stake in the high availability FC SAN RAM end of the SSD ASAP market - and get some cash to pursue growth ideas.

The XcelaSAN has been aimed at niche segments in the enterprise SSD market - but could take off in new directions with the appopriate marketing investment.

Dataram probably understands what they have to do to get business there better than anyone else - because they've been working hard to learn what the early adopters in this market want for over 2 years and have been applying that feedback into product tweaks and clearer customer messages.

To many readers the sum of money mentioned in this news story sounds small - compared to the tens and hundreds of million dollar sums often bandied about in SSD VC stories. But Dataram is a very conservatively managed company and they get a lot done for what seems to other SSD oems like loose change.

Texas Memory Systems introduces fast-enough PCIe SSD in ASAP bundle

Editor:- March 27, 2012 - Texas Memory Systems has introduced a new fast-enough MLC PCIe SSD into its product line as part of an SSD ASAP / caching bundle which includes software from NEVEX

The new RamSan-80 eMLC PCIe SSD provides 450GB usable capacity, 700 MB/s throughput and 80K / 170K R/W IOPS.

Editor's comments:- this new product from TMS is aimed at a different market to those which the company traditionally focused on with its "world's fastest storage". The company's new eMLC PCIe SSD - which is only available as part of this new SSD ASAP bundle - enables TMS to reach down to price points which are significantly lower than anything it has ever done before - with a product that's easy for users to deploy to get apps speedups in Windows SAN and NAS environments.

Drobo's new SSD ASAP uses SAS SSDs from OCZ

Editor:- March 8, 2012 - OCZ announced that its Talos SSDs (3.5" SAS SSDs) will be used in Drobo's new B1200i range of iSCSI auto-tiering systems (SSD ASAPs).

This is Drobo's first product to leverage the benefits of SSDs.

"Just like larger organisations, SMEs should be able to afford and enjoy the benefits of SSD technology and performance," said Tom Buiocchi, CEO of Drobo. "For the best capacity and performance, our unique automated data-aware tiering allows customers to easily and affordably add SSDs to the same Drobo environment that already has high-capacity traditional disk drives."

SanDisk acquires FlashSoft

Editor:- February 15, 2012 - SanDisk today announced it has acquired FlashSoft - one of the leading independent software vendors in the SSD ASAPs market.

Tegile enters the SSD ASAP market

Editor:- February 14, 2012 - Tegile announced general availability of its Zebi hybrid storage arrays - which are rackmount SSD ASAPs with internal hard drives and integrated dedupe, compression and snapshot.

NEVEX CacheWorks supports RamSan flash

Editor:- February 8, 2012 - NEVEX today announced that its CacheWorks for Windows Server has been tested and optimized for performance with the new generation of flash SSDs from Texas Memory Systems - in particular the RamSan-70 (a PCIe SSD) and the RamSan-810 (a 1U rackmount SSD).

Editor's comments:- In 2010 I wrote about the sometimes confusing brand stretch of "RamSan" - as even back then 70% of the SSDs that TMS sold were flash rather RAM - and PCIe was a sizable chunk of the product line mix too.

This software support from NEVEX fills a key functional gap (SSD ASAP) in the TMS route to market.

It's important for NEVEX too.

TMS has been selling enterprise SSDs longer than any other company. But unlike some competing PCIe SSD companies (Fusion-io, OCZ, STEC and Micron) which have all acquired their own SSD software IP in the past year (thereby obsoleting most 3rd party caching/tiering development investments) - Texas Memory Systems is still focused on hardware design. Nevertheless - while I'm confident that acquiring an ISV isn't on TMS's wish list - the company itself recently announced it would look positively on a suitable potential acquirer. So nothing is as certain as it seems.

will rental break through the uncertainty barrier for SSD ASAPs?

Editor:- January 26, 2012 - One of the business development obstacles facing enterprise SSD ASAP / caching vendors in the past few years has been that users have mostly thought of them as being HDD array accelerators.

And even if a user is interested right now - and even if they are happy with their try before you buy results - they often hold off making a purchase - because they think (after reading web sites like this one) that one day they'll be ripping out their rotating RAID systems and replacing them with SSDs - so it might be silly to buy an SSD cache applaince right now.

Now in reality - most users won't replace their entire HDD storage as quickly as they might like to think - and ASAPs do have a permanent role in the pure SSD datacenter too. Some vendors' marketing materials talk about that - while others are still harping on about hard disks and the "superiority" of SSD - even when their technology roadmap works just as well for SSD.

Seemingly breaking through the user indecision barrier - Dataram today published a customer story about their "no long term commitment" - Acceleration on Demand - leasing program. It sounds like a good idea - but I don't know the exact terms and conditions involved.

the New Business Case for SSD ASAPs

Editor:- December 6, 2011 - today published a new article - the New Business Case for SSD ASAPs .

What's an SSD ASAP? - When I use this term it includes:-
  • auto-tiering SSD appliances
  • SSD cache - the automatic kind
  • SSD acceleration As Soon As Possible
  • Auto-tuning SSD Accelerated Pools of storage
  • combinations of the above
It's going to be a huge market. SSD ASAPs are 1 of the 6 main SSD product types that will be around in the pure solid state storage datacenter of the future in the 2016 to 2020 timeframe.

The word "new" in the title is deliberate. It replaces an article I wrote about SSD ASAPs when the market started in 2009.

Since then - my thinking - and that of key players in the market has developed. This should no longer just be regarded as a tactical market to bring the advantages of SSD acceleration to legacy hard drive arrays. ASAPs are an essential interface between different levels of SSD storage. the article

analyzer suite could speed up auto-tiering SSD evaluations

Editor:- November 29, 2011 - hyperI/O today announced availability of its Disk I/O Ranger software analysis tool for Windows environments.

The company says this will help users diagnose and understand disk storage access performance problems and to to verify that QoS levels are being met at the application/file/device level. It could also simplify the evaluation of auto-tiering SSD appliances by collecting real-time metrics.

Editor's comments:- I asked Tom West, President of hyperI/O what he was seeing of the SSD market from his perspective of selling storage analysis tools. He said -"One of the major users of the hIOmon software is listed within the top 10 of your latest - Top 20 SSD Companies."

NexGen enters iSCSI auto-tiering SSD ASAP market

Editor:- November 8, 2011 - NexGen emerged from stealth mode and announced general availability of its first product - the n5 - a 3U iSCSI auto-tiering and real-time compression appliance - which internally leverages 48GB RAM cache, 1.3TB PCIe SSD and 32TB raw SAS HDD capacity to deliver 120TB RAID protected usable fast virtual storage with adjustable performance QoS for every volume.

Satisfying apps speedup hunger without expensive SSD write caching

Editor:- October 19, 2011 - Read caching can lift the glass ceiling on write caching - as much as 3x. That's one of the unexpected twists revealed in a new blog by Gary Orenstein VP of Products at Fusion-io.

What are the practical applications of this? - Gary gives several examples - like greatly simplified data replication / protection. But that's not the only trick in the SSD toolkit. To demonstrate how this can be leveraged Gary shows readers a graph which shows a 10x write speedup obtained when using FIO's PCIe SSDs as read caches - managed by their IO Turbine SSD ASAP software - in a server attached to a storage array from NetApp.

Editor's comments:- providing fail safe data replication within the low latency of an SSD acceleration environment is a non trivial problem - discussed in an earlier blog by Woody Hutsell (who now works for Gary - see SSD news).

That complexity is why you pay more for SSD solutions which include write replication (like Violin, Kaminario, Huawei Symantec and Dataram) - the extra cost appearing in both the invoice and accrued latency.

The new blog by Gary Orenstein says - in effect - that you don't have to go all the way to full à la cartre R/W SSD caching to get a satisfying meal of the day apps speedup. the article

NEVEX launches SSD ASAP software for Windows Server

Editor:- October 11, 2011 - NEVEX today launched its first product - an auto-tiering / SSD ASAP software cache for Windows Server, VMware, Hyper-V priced at $2,495 per physical server .

CacheWorks' selective cache optimization technology empowers administrators by providing flexible control to accelerate specific data by application, file type, and location to deliver typical speedups of 3x - according to customer quotes in their launch press release (pdf).

GridIron's fat flash stirs ASAP caffeine sooner to beat weekly peaky loads

Editor:- September 29, 2011 - GridIron Systems today announced general availability of its TurboCharger - an FC SAN fat flash SSD ASAP / auto-tiering cache - which has low latency (tens of microseconds) and is intended to be used in what the company calls "Big data" installations.

Editor's comments:- Although conceptually similar to Dataram's 2 year old XcelaSAN - GridIron's product is scaled to work with much bigger storage capacities - and includes more dedicated silicon.

Also - unlike most other caches - GridIron says its hot data stores and recognizes peaking data patterns over many days - and not just short term real-time data spikes. That makes it better able to react more quickly to cyclical business demands - such as time of day, day of the week, start/end of month etc - without having to relearn them. So the acceleration will kick in faster.

This is an example of good "age symmetry". See also:- how fast can your SSD run backwards? 11 Key Symmetries in SSD design

Dell will distribute Dataram's auto tiering SSD

Editor:- September 22, 2011 - Dataram announced that Dell OEM Solutions will manufacture, provide hardware customization, distribute and support Dataram's FC SAN compatible auto-tiering / SSD ASAP - the XcelaSAN from November 2011.

Editor's comments:- Since Dataram launched the XcelaSAN 2 years ago it has fixed perceived gaps in its failover characteristics and established some impressive customer reference sites. But sales have been slow.

Part of the problem has been that this product is aimed at users who don't have the technical resources within their workgroups to tune vanilla SSD accelerators in SANs because of the many complex data architecture decisions which then arise. That's why they need auto-tiering.

But without internal safety nets these ideal potential customers have to be absolutely confident that it works and will be supported. This deal with Dell goes a long way to doing that - and will tip the balance for many who liked the idea but needed the reassurance that a 3rd party heavyweight company has looked at the design and is prepared to support it.

SANRAD enters the SSD ASAP market

Editor:- September 20, 2011 - SANRAD has entered the auto-tiering SSD / SSD ASAPs market with the launch of its new VXL software which supports its family of FC and GbE unified storage network routers.

"Many organizations are adding flash resources to their virtual server environments but aren't able to use them efficiently," says Dr Allon Cohen, SANRAD's VP Marketing. "By combining our software with their infrastructure, they instantly have faster access, more secure data, and resilience."

Editor's comments:- the thinking behind SANRAD's acceleration architecture is described in this white paper - Where to put your flash SSD accelerators - for best enterprise results (pdf)

will OCZ's new hybrid PCIe SSD be a market game changer?

Editor:- September 1, 2011 - OCZ yesterday launched a hybrid PCIe SSD - the RevoDrive Hybrid - which integrates 100GB SSD capacity along with an onboard terabyte HDD and SSD ASAP / auto hot spot cache tuning controller capable of 910MB/s peak throughput and upto 120,000 random write IOPS (4K) - all for an MSRP under $500.

"The RevoDrive Hybrid leverages the best attributes of both solid state drives and traditional hard drive technology to deliver dynamic data-tiering on a single easy to deploy PCIe storage drive," said Ryan Petersen, CEO of OCZ.

Editor's comments:- although many oems have tried to make a success of all in one SSD-HDD hybrid drives - the hybrids which have come to market in the past 6 years have mostly been failures more analysis on main SSD news page

FlashSoft launches software to unleash the power of enterprise flash

Editor:- June 28, 2011 - FlashSoft today announced it has secured $3 million Series A funding and has launched its first product - software which enables enterprise flash to be used as a cost-effective, server-tier computing resource (ASAP functionality in software) which is available for free evaluation through a 30-day "Try Before You Buy" program.

Editor's comments:- FlashSoft says its software (which runs on Windows Server - Linux is in beta) works with any flash SSDs upto 1TB, and takes approx 5% CPU utilization and 100MB of core RAM. I asked

How many physical SSDs does the software support?

The number of SSDs is not limited, as long as they can be represented as a single logical volume, eg. through a RAID.

Is the 1TB limit shown on your site the limit for the setof SSDs or just for each drive?

The 1TB limit is the current logical limit for the SSD used for caching. The data set is typically 5x greater (or more) than the cache. The size restriction is an artifact of early development, and in a near-future release, there will be no restriction on the size of the SSD employed.

In the case of sudden power loss – what are the steps taken to protect the state of the cached data and update the external storage?

FlashSoft employs a method called multi-level metadata management, which stores some cache metadata in RAM, but most of it on the SSD itself (and employs a balanced tree design for optimal efficiency). There are two benefits to this design: first, it minimizes utilization of server memory. Only the hottest metadata runs in server memory. The rest is cached in SSD. Also, the application regularly creates snapshots of the metadata on the SSD, so that in the event of a server crash, the cache metadata can be re-created from the snapshots + most recent metadata almost immediately. Typical recovery is less than a second. (Keep in mind, our team's background is at Veritas, Oracle, Symantec, etc. so data recovery is a top priority for the product design.)

virtual server acceleration mistakes

Editor:- June 21. 2011 - 5 Mistakes to Avoid when trying to solve I/O Bottlenecks in Virtualized Servers is a new article by IO Turbine published on

Needless to say most of the discussion in here revolves around the best use of SSDs. Among other things - IO Turbine says "While many enterprise-class storage providers offer automatic tiering with data migration to and from the SSD storage, these solutions typically take place well after the need for the I/O acceleration has passed." the article

Dataram delivers 24x speedup for telco

Editor:- May 5, 2011 - Dataram has started to say more about the speedup ratios that customers are seeing with its XcelaSAN (the industry's first SSD ASAP).

One of my 11 SSD predictions for 2011 was that SSD marketers would start to talk the language of xN speedups for common apps or customer groups rather than simply tossing around native IOPS and throughput numbers.

"We knew from the outset that XcelaSAN would deliver unbeatable value and performance to our customers, and we are now seeing proof of the many financial and business benefits that all our users are receiving." said John Freeman, President and CEO of Dataram. "We are very pleased to find that our customers can now do more at lower CapEx and OpEx, while extending the usable life of their equipment in a wide range of business environments."

Marvell flies a kite for DragonFly accelerator

Editor:- April 4, 2011 - Marvell today unveiled a PCIe compatible SSD ASAP.

Marvell claims 10x speedups can be realized using its new DragonFly Virtual Storage Accelerator - which is designed to reduce write amplification to external storage arrays and acts as an OS agnostic multiprotocol storage cache for NAS, SAN or DAS storage arrays. The product - is expected to sample in Q3.

Editor's comments:- more than 20 companies have launched similarly impressive sounding accelerators in the past 2 years in form factors ranging from cards to racks. Based on the track record of the SSD industry in this particular segment I think it would be realistic for users to think about a timescale which is more like another year than another quarter before application software issues are resolved in this new product - and the speedup ratio quoted may or may not be sustainable too.

Xiotech enters ASAP market

Editor:- January 31, 2011 - Xiotech is the latest company to join the crowding SSD ASAP market with the launch of its Hybrid ISE - a 3U FC rack with 14TB of capacity and 60,000 IOPS performance which internally uses a mixture of 2.5" SSDs and HDDs.

Similarly to many other ASAP vendors - Xiotech claims its systems has "fully automated set-and-forget simplicity". The company says that using ROI calculations from weighted I/O counts, automated tiering begins within 1 minute of I/O and continues to manage the performance requirements of applications in real-time.

ASAPs will still be needed after hard drives have gone

Editor:- January 21, 2011 - today a reader asked a good question about the SSD ASAP market - effectively asking if I thought some vendors might have missed an opportunity here - because of how long it was taking to get customers to accept them.

When the first ASAPs came to market in 2009 - I commented that the clock was ticking - because I didn't see the need for this type of product once enterprises transitioned to a pure SSD environment in the dataceneter.

I was glad to get the email because I have revised my thoughts about this. Here's the text below from the reply I sent this morning.

I've been revising and updating my long range SSD market model recently - some parts of which appeared in this article last year.

Something which comes out of filling in the details is that I was wrong to say that SSD ASAPs will have a limited market life. When the datacenter transitions to a 100% solid state storage in the 2015 to 2019 period - there will be an even bigger need for automatic tiering technology between the 3 levels of SSDs in the new storage architecture described in the petabyte SSD article.

That's because the difference in latency between the fastest SSDs and the slowest (bulk storage SSDs) will be bigger than the ratio between hard drives and cartridges in a tape library. That means the best performing ASAPs will still find a place in the market - long after I originally expected.

I initially thought the need would disappear in an environment which was 100% solid state storage. In some apps that will be true. But in bigger enterprises complexity and economic realities mean that tiering - between different classes of SSD storage - will still be necessary.

Alacritech enters SSD ASAP market

Editor:- January 11, 2011 - Alacritech launched the ANX 1500 ($70,000 base price) - a 2U fat flash SSD ASAP optimized for the NAS market - which the company claims can deliver 120,000 NFS OPS when configured with 48GB of DRAM and up to 4TB flash SSD.

Demartek tests LSI's CacheCade

Editor:- November 2, 2010 - Demartek has published a sponsored test report (pdf) which compares the performance of SSDs and HDDs in a simulated web server environment when managed by LSI's CacheCade software - which provides SSD ASAP functionality.

Editor's commnents:- The report shows that throughput and access times were improved by at least 3x using a single SSD cache compared to the HDD only situation.

However - it's disappointing that the sizing of the test was not best chosen to draw meaningful conclusions. Because the web content was only 25% larger than the SSD capacity! It would have been more helpful to design a simulated case in which there was at least a 10x or 100x size difference. Because if you can fit all the web content onto an SSD then you don't need the burden of the "cache" software at all - and might get better results by switching it off.

There are case studies going back nearly 10 years which show that SSDs can provide big speedups in web servers. The exact speedup depends on how fast the SSD is. This test report doesn't answer the question - is LSI's CacheCade useful in a realistically scaled environment?

Nimble Storage enters the ASAP market

Editor:- July 15, 2010 - Nimble Storage announced the release of the Nimble CS-Series an iSCSI compatible SSD ASAP which has been optimized for backup and compression performance.

The model CS240 has 18TB of primary storage and 216TB backup. At launch pricing was under $3/GB (usable) for primary storage and $0.25/GB for backup storage.

Nexenta streams online tv

Editor:- May 20, 2010 - Nexenta Systems announced that its products (which include SSD ASAP features) are being used by the Dutch Public Broadcasting Agency NPO for storing and delivering online tv in a configuration which includes 192TB of hard disk drives and a 1.9TB SSD read cache.

The broadcaster's website has approximately 80TB of video available to online users who want to watch previously broadcasted television programs. During an average evening, between 10 and 20,000 people stream data, adding up to 25GB in capacity. The customer (who evaluated multiple vendors ) says that important selection criteria were:- performance, price, support and power consumption.

PMC-Sierra acquires Adaptec's SSD ASAP and RAID business

Editor:- May 10, 2010 - PMC-Sierra announced a definitive agreement to acquire Adaptec's channel storage business for approximately $34 million in cash.

This deal includes Adaptec's RAID storage product line, its global VAR customer base, board logistics capabilities, and SSD cache performance solutions.

Editor's comments:- I had heard that Adaptec's storage business was up for sale a few months ago.

In my storage market outlook 2010 to 2015 article - published last year - I explained why I thought that the RAID controller market couldn't stay as it was.

These companies have to get into offering complete SSD solutions in the long term. In the short term PMC-Sierra may be able to do a better job aggregating a bigger percentage of whatever remains of the untied RAID controller business.

I expect the RAID business (for hard disks) will eventually become a consumer / SMB market - while the enterprise storage array part of this market will morph through an SSD ASAP phase - while users struggle to redefine new storage architectures for the datacenter.

GreenBytes unveils 1U dedupe ASAP

Editor:- March 29, 2010 - GreenBytes today unveiled the GB-1000 (under $10,000) a 1U 4TB SSD accelerated dedupe appliance which supports simultaneous SAN and NAS deployments.

Ingest and restore performance is stated as 0.54TB/hr.

Adaptec's SSD seed corn came from Microsoft

Editor:- March 25, 2010 - in yet another simulated benchmark published today related to Adaptec's SSD ASAP caching technology - which they leverage in their MaxIQ SSD product - I learned that the underlying technology was originally developed by (surprise! surprise!) - Microsoft.

"When our datacenter team came up with some innovative ideas around using solid state devices as read caching devices, we determined it made good sense to license these advances to Adaptec because Microsoft itself doesn't sell these types of products," said David Kaefer, GM of Intellectual Property Licensing at Microsoft. "By collaborating through licensing, Adaptec customers benefit from a product that delivers impressive performance and cost savings over alternatives in the market."
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