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StorageSearch.com is about thought leadership in the SSD market.

from - what's in the chips?

to - how will SSDs change the future?

Since the 1990s our readers have accelerated the growth of the SSD market and determined its essence and onward direction.

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disk writes per day in enterprise SSDs
DWPD

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personality of the SSD?
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Dark matter users in enterprise SSD
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When your SSD breaks...

Who do you call?
broken barrel image - click to see the SSD data recovery directory

Decloaking hidden segments in the enterprise
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DWPD ratings in enterprise SSDs today?
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The risk of flash
wear-out in SSDs is
a kind of "forever war"
which is never really
permanently won.
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If they survive manufacturing they'll survive our industrial customers too. image shows mouse building storage - click to see industrial SSDs article

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size matters M2 SSDs
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Killerbyte had a "no surrender" attitude when it came to attacks on her personal data integrity. military storage directory and news

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Zero RPM SSDs killed 20K hard drives

Zsolt Kerekes (linkin) - StorageSearch.com


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the enterprise SSD story

why's the plot so complicated?

and was there ever a best time to simplify it?

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - June 17, 2015
Can I tell you any single most useful thing extracted from all the thousands of incidental things and trivia I've learned from the SSD market?

In answering readers' questions about the market and in constructing major articles - I've sometimes asked myself - how do I know this stuff?

Part of explanation which I gave in an earlier article is that if you spend decades of time thinking a lot about a single subject and while doing that talk to most of the experts in that subject - and also talk to a lot of other people who have their own reasons to be interested - then something does rub off and stick.

As an educational program for understanding the SSD market - I don't recommend it to anyone else.

It's not scalable and not amenable to replication. And there are faster and more efficient ways for you to learn most of what you need to know. Which I hope includes trawling sites like this one.

So what have I learned? And what's the single most useful thing?

From a technology point of view - the technology is still changing.

And how SSDs interact with other parts of your data processing assets still has many adaptations and evolutions to get through before things can settle down.

The reason the adaptation continues to be so complicated is this.

In the 1970s when large scale integrated silicon technology began to disrupt the computer market with devices like the microprocessor and DRAM - they gave birth to a new generation of software companies. When using the earliest microprocessors you had to write all your own software. But whatever you did with the newest CPUs and memories was invariably cheaper than what had been done before. By the mid to late 1980s - these systems were faster too - and were starting to replace enterprise servers - and to rely on a complex ecosystem of software bigger than anything which had been seen before.

I was lucky in my observation point in those days to have explored the benefits of applying permutations of multiple processors, embryonic RAID and solid state storage as performance accelerators in real-time environments which included 3G databases and Unix platforms.

It was a decade later - when reporting on the benefits of enterprise SSDs here on this site in the late 1990s and early 2000s - that I realized that somehow the insights about SSDs as applications accelerators - were not widely appreciated.

The next few paragraphs provides a summary of that early accidental eureka moment for me - from my linkedin page and memory.


start of some bio stuff - related to this article

The SSDserver equivalence idea didn't seem like a big deal to me at the time (about 1988) as storage was just one of many bottlenecks my customers needed to solve.

When I was recruited into a startup called Databasix in the late 1980s - the founders could already see that new opportunities were being created to do new things based on AI and database technology - but that doing useful things in real time would only be possible by massive parallelization of CPUs (which was not a commodity at that time) and parallelization of disks (RAID for throughput) and faster storage for the latency critical parts (solid state storage).

So I and my team spent all our time playing with the fastest technology toys we could borrow (evaluate) or buy or modify and figuring out what the nature of bottlenecks were and how best to solve them in a virtualized way if possible - because many of these toys were short lived and almost every customer project changed a lot from the time it was conceived to the time it was delivered. And the only way to make it work as a business would be to make most of the core software reusable.

Anyway - then as now - there were only a small number of users who needed such crazy advanced platforms.

Finding the performance fanatics with budgets was the "business model." Our sales people found some. Which was amazing in itself as that was before the days of internet marketing. We learned a lot in a short space of years by providing platforms to researchers in the industrial, military, seismic research and related markets and also an innovative and long lived production broadcast program routing system for a major broadcaster too. It was a lot of work. We wrote all our own drivers for everything. And our objective was always to reach wire speed of whatever device we connected.

end of the bio stuff - (I'm not looking for another job BTW)


A big new hypothetical question for SSD market thinkers?

All of which - above- is the long way of introducing a question which has occurred to me often recently.

Was there ever an ideal earlier time and opportunity to inject SSD DNA into enterprise computing architecture (and OSes) which could have prevented the buildup of complex integration and associated rip and replace and bypass surgery - of so many layers of systems software - which have inevitably followed?

I'm not sure.

Very few people realized the value of doing this even in 1988. And in those days if you tried to integrate SSD acceleration yourself - it involved a lot of analysis and rewriting OS kernels to make it work in a useful way.

Certainly the software industry didn't do it.

And before then there wouldn't have been a clear need.

And after 1988 (and throughout the subsequent decade) as the enterprise became fascinated and then bewitched by RISC/Unix most CPU designers were hell bent on a course to just add more cores and DRAM and wider memory busses and faster clocks as the simplest way to keep getting faster.

So looking back now - it's clear that the standard models for computer hardware and software architecture in the silicon chip age had evolved for over 40 years without the concept of another economically useful latency layer between hard drives and DRAM.

That didn't stop SSD pioneers from trying to break in. But it was through cracks and rare business opportunities in which nearly every SSD sale required a huge customer learning curve.

It was as late as 2008 to 2009 that SSD accelerators became offered as a standard option by all mainstream enterprise server vendors and it was from that time onwards that we saw the birth of a true SSD software market.

You can see why the enterprise SSD market is the most bewildering part of the enterprise market.

It's not about flash memory.

SSDs are changing a market (data processing) which was designed without any original conception of SSDs being there in the first place.

In the modern era - SSDs began sneaking into purchase orders whenever the gaps (what was possible with SSDs compared to what was possible without) looked easy enough and lucrative enough to edge into.

And the future of the story (as I've said many times before) is that future data architectures will be managed by reference to their different interconnected storage assets (SSD) rather than (as in the past) by reference to their servers.

And all the critical costs and management decisons will be about how to control the cost of the SSDs.

Note I don't use the term "flash" here deliberately - because the enterprise SSD story started before flash was an enterprise technology and will most likely persist till after too.

Anyway - somewhere at the beginning of this blog I hinted that I might say something useful about all the stuff I've learned from talking to so many founders of SSD companies and visionnaries in the market.

Surprisingly the one enduring and universally useful true thing I've learned isn't about the technology.

(Today's hot chip management technology looks like steam punk when viewed from the future.)

No it's this...

When talking to long time SSD pioneers and serial company founders and those whose creations have transformed this industry of ours - I often ask - why are you still doing this? It can't be the money. Surely you could just retire and go fishing or start a boutique investment company.

The answer every time is something like this.

The SSD market is the most exciting place to be working right now. Why would you want to be somewhere else?

For me too - it's the challenge of figuring out where all these roads are going and what will the landscape look when the whole territory has been discovered, staked out, built up, rustled and burned down and then rebuilt again. The unknown and exciting combined with tantalizingly predictable narratives with often surprising characters is the SSD story which keeps me going.

In conclusion there never was a best time in the past for the enterprise SSD market.

No past "Heroic Golden Age of SSD".

The best time is still now.
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now consider this...

90% of the enterprise SSD companies which you know have no good reasons to survive.

The main reasons they will hang around a little longer and their ranks may even swell slightly before the big shrink are bad reasons...

Bad marketing and an inefficient market.

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - April 21, 2015

drivers, mechanisms and routes towards consolidation in the enterprise SSD market along with some other outrageous and dangerous ideas

However you interact with the enterprise SSD ecosystem a useful reference point for judging the relevance of what you see happening around you is some kind of implicit background expectation about the size and structure of the market - which at its simplest level is measured by the number of distinctly different vendors and major product types and economic value of the whole market.

My blog - on the above subject - which includes some dangerous ideas - was one of the most popular articles on StorageSearch.com in recent years. ...read the article

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Hmm... it looks like you're seriously interested in SSDs. So please bookmark this page and come back again soon.

I've written thousands of stories and guides related to the SSD market. Some of the most popular can be seen here.
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StorageSearch.com is published by ACSL. © 1992 to 2015 all rights reserved.

Editor's note:- I currently talk to more than 600 makers of SSDs and another 100 or so companies which are closely enmeshed around the SSD ecosphere.

Most of these SSD companies (but by no means all) are profiled here on the mouse site.

I learn about new SSD companies every day, including many in stealth mode. If you're interested in the growing big picture of the SSD market canvass - StorageSearch will help you along the way.

Many SSD company CEOs read our site too - and say they value our thought leading SSD content - even when we say something that's not always comfortable to hear. I hope you'll find it it useful too.

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"The winners in SSD software could be as important for data infrastructure as Microsoft was for PCs, or Oracle was for databases, or Google was for search."
all enterprise data will touch an SSD
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SSD ad - click for more info
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90% of the enterprise SSD companies which you know have no good reasons to survive.
market consolidation - why? how? when?
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SSD ad - click for more info

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The amount of fast flash storage needed to serve enterprise needs is very much less than the legacy raw HDD capacity.

But new generations of software bundled with new data architecture concepts will extract many times better utilization from the enterprise flash base too.

There are good and bad consequences of these market transforming changes.

Good for users.

Not so good for some vendors.
meet Ken - and the enterprise SSD software event horizon

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Flash Memory Summit - click for more info

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A couple of years ago - if you were a big company wanting to get into the SSD market by an acquisition or strategic investment then a budget somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion would have seemed like plenty.
VCs & SSDs

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When you read something about the SSD market which seems to contradict something which you previously held as a working hypothesis - what do you do next?
can you trust SSD market data?

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In-situ SSD processing - is about closing important gaps in the intelligence of message passing and the speed of data access between application processors and SSD controllers.
12 key SSD ideas which changed in 2014

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The SSD market during its short history (spanning only 40 years) has managed to accrue an imaginative body of literature which includes truths, half truths, mysticism, misunderstandings. myths, legends - and in some cases - downright balderdash - when it comes to the subject of SSD costs, pricing and justifications.
Exiting the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing


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how fast can your SSD run backwards?
11 Key Symmetries in SSD design


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can you guess what will the next enterprise flash array box will look like?
playing the enterprise SSD box riddle game


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One of the challenges for the enterprise SSD market when designing new rackmount products is to understand complex customer needs and decision criteria - which go beyond the traditional bullet points.

New segmentation models are needed because the enterprise SSD market is moving into uncharted territories and use cases where a considerable proportion of the customer needs which affect buying behavior are still formally unrecognized as being significant (in market research data).
Decloaking hidden and missing segments in the analysis and identification of market opportunities for enterprise rackmount flash


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The user mood is changing from - can I afford to use SSDs? to a realization that - I can't afford not to.
where does all the money go?


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Even in its infancy - endurance management was a complicated technical subject - but if we look back from the perspective from the ultra-complexity of today - it was much easier to manage and understand.
SSD endurance - the forever war - now in 3D


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You don't have to understand the internal details of how these individual techniques work. And with hundreds of patents already pending in this topic there's a high probability that the SSD vendor won't give you the details anyway (not even under NDA). It's enough to get the general idea.
Adaptive flash care management & DSP ECC IP in SSDs


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"...Application-unaware design of memory controllers, and in particular memory scheduling algorithms, leads to uncontrolled interference of applications in the memory system"
Are you ready to rethink RAM?

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"A critical test of whether you really understand the dynamics of a complex market like enterprise SSDs - is whether you can predict what rational buyers might do when offered new product options at the extreme limits of - for example - price."
Boundaries Analysis in SSD Market Forecasting



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Like cosmological dark matter - which accounts for most of the mass in the universe but which is invisible to optical telescopes - the SSD dark matter customers will be bigger in mass than the traditional known enterprise users.
The big market impact of SSD dark matter



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"A new generation of enterprise SSD rackmounts is breaking all the rules which previously constrained price, performance and reliability."
exciting new directions in rackmount SSDs



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don't ask how we're going to make money out of it yet
Hostage to the fortunes of SSD



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"...the SSD market will be bigger in revenue than the hard drive market ever was."
How will hard drives fare in an SSD world?


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"You'd think... someone should know all the answers by now. "
what do enterprise SSD users want?


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If the flash memory in your supplier's SSD or array costs 2x as much as that of a competitor - because it uses more of the same generation chips or uses more expensive preconditioned older style chips - to do the same job - their profit margins and your electricity costs will suffer.
Efficiency as internecine SSD competitive advantage


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For many of them a single customer like that is bigger than their whole business plan.
what can you infer when all flash array startups compare themselves to EMC?