Effect on Storage Market

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-01-15 Print this article Print

So, what does the Jan. 14 announcement mean to the storage market in general? Plenty.

"Well, I think we all knew something was going to happen soon [with regard to flash moving into storage arrays], but I don't think anybody saw this coming [in January]," Mark Peters, storage analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, told eWEEK. "It's great to see EMC doing it, too -- they're not always the first out of the gate on these things."

Flash drives can store a terabyte of data using 38 percent less energy than traditional Fibre Channel disk drives, Pund-IT analyst Charles King and Mesabi Group principal David Hill wrote Jan. 14 in a special report.

"Since it would take about 30 15,000-RPM Fibre Channel disk drives to deliver the same performance as a single flash drive, this translates into a dramatic 98 percent reduction in power consumption to achieve similar transaction-per-second performance," Hill and King wrote.

"With flash drive technology in a Symmetrix DMX-4 storage system, a credit card provider could clear up to six transactions in the time it once took to process a single transaction," they wrote.

"Overall, EMC's efforts could significantly alter the dynamics of the flash SSD market, where stand-alone flash storage systems have been available only from smaller vendors -- notably Solid Data and Texas Memory Systems."

Roberto Basilio, senior director of enterprise storage product management at competing Hitachi Data Systems, told eWEEK that "EMC is primarily playing catch up with this announcement. Hitachi was the first tier one storage vendor to support thin provisioning when we launched the USP V in May of last year.

Basilio added: "As far as the flash drives, we're not seeing very many requests from customers to support this technology at the moment. We believe EMC is really serving the needs of the few here."

Basilio and HDS Chief Scientist Claus Mikkelsen both said they thought the market for high-end flash SSDs was far less than 1,000 companies worldwide.

"It not even a niche -- it's just a minute part of the market," Mikkelsen said. "Anyway, we've been there and done that. SSDs certainly have improved a great deal from the 1990s -- back then they were volatile, now they are non-volatile -- and give EMC credit for moving ahead. But when potential customers find out the high prices and the other limitations [of flash] become apparent, things will cool off."

Tom Coughlin of San Jose, Calif.-based Coughlin Associates, a longtime flash storage expert who puts on the Storage Visions conferences several times per year, told eWEEK that "this isn't really that new -- having flash in enterprise storage systems. [Solid-state] DRAM has been used as part of the enterprise storage hierarchy for quite a while."

In fact, Xiotech, of Eden Prairie, Minn., has been offering DRAM-based SSDs for over a year as part of its Magnitude 3D virtual storage cluster.

"I see this as a reflection of flash moving into the space formerly occupied by DRAM. The price will come down quite a bit, although it's still expensive," Coughlin said.

Peters of ESG said that as time goes on "we'll see more and more stuff [in data centers] that doesn't spin. I think EMC is creating a space between themselves and their competitors. It'll be interesting to see how they catch up to this."

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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