Whew! I got lucky - my kids were so excited that they stayed up late on Christmas Eve, and thus were tired enough to sleep in until after 0800 Christmas Day. Many toys and other useful objects later, the family is back to more or less normal until school starts again. Next up is a blow-out New Year's Eve party (for the family - we'll probably get some snacks out and watch a family-friendly movie).
Since the end of the year is rapidly approaching, I'd like to take the opportunity to briefly talk about one of the year's big stories in storage, flash memory. At Edge2013, which I was fortunate enough to attend, Ambuj Goyal (General Manager of IBM System Storage and Networking), spoke about flash memory "creating a tipping point in the industry" (you can pick up this thread at the 22:18 mark in the video).
I've been championing the use of flash (aka solid state storage) for some time now. I could tell when it was first being made in a drive format factor, way back when STEC ruled the world of enterprise SSDs, that this was going to have a tremendous impact on the storage industry. I knew then that the spinning disk's days were numbered, and it's starting to happen pretty fast. Now I don't think mechanical drives are going away any time soon, but their use will be relegated to bulk storage for lower tiers of data.
I'd like to make a few comments on a story in TechTarget, which is titled "Top five solid-state flash storage news stories of 2013". They are, with my comments:
- The 2013 flash-storage buying spree was in full force in 2013
- Startups rule the all-flash and hybrid storage markets
- The traditional powerhouse storage vendors have been slow to enter the market
- Solid-state disks (SSDs) are so 10 minutes ago. The future of flash storage is already here
- Consumer-grade MLC flash overtakes SLC flash as the de facto enterprise standard
This talks about storage companies buying flash vendors to be able to get into the market. As the article notes, IBM was perhaps the first major vendor to do this when we purchased Texas Memory Systems back in August of 2012.
I have to disagree on this one. Sure, there are a lot of vendors in this space now, but who will be left in a year or two? The DS8870, XIV, and Storwize line of products have enormous advantages in terms of server connectivity (mainframe anyone?), replication capability (such as three sites from a single volume in the DS8870), hypervisor integration and so forth.
I don't think so. EMC was first to market SSDs in enterprise systems, while IBM was close behind with a superior implementation of storage tiering (Easy Tier).
Yes and no. Granted that flash need not take the form of old-fashion disk drives - see the IBM Announcement letter 112-106 dated 04 June 2012 which talks about a "A new high-density flash storage module for selected IBM disk systems, including the IBM System Storage DS8000". But traditional disk systems aren't going away - they are just going to change in form factor, but not in function.
Old news. IBM storage has been running eMLC for some time now. I think the real interesting news is that a case can be made for TLC flash. Facebook is considering using TLC flash for cold data. I personally would like to see it used in PCs for operating system and applications, which have a high read-to-write ratio. One could imagine a hybrid eMLC-TLC flash much like hybrid drives use flash for speed and platters for capacity. I envision a hybrid flash that uses eMLC for writes (updates to an operating system, for example) and TLC for capacity.
By the way, don't forget that Pulse is coming up soon - 23-26 February 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. I've been asked to speak, though I don't think I will actually be able to make this one. If that changes I will let you know.