Feeds

EMC's all-flash benediction: Turbulence ahead

Who's ready, who's going to have to buy in?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Analysis A rising tide lifts all boats and the blessing EMC gave to all-flash arrays at EMC World will be gratefully seized upon by a string of established small players and start-up wannabees such as Pure Storage and SolidFire. But this tide could carry some boats into turbulent waters.

Shared solid state storage has been the preserve of a niche market, one where customers need an in-memory database for their financial arbitrage trading. Seconds, even fractions of a second, count when trying to make money from fast but small changes in market prices for financial instruments or whatever else can be traded on Wall Street or other exchanges. Disk latency is the enemy of such trading applications and DRAM and flash arrays from Texas Memory Systems (TMS), such as its RamSan products, have been the classic storage array product for the company, where lightning fast access from a large data set is the key to an application's success.

Another application area is national security, where the fastest-possible database lookup is needed by communication monitoring systems – whisper the Echelon name – and border control traveller identification applications. Now there are enough customers wanting such applications that EMC is going to offer all-flash VNX and VMAX arrays as standard configurations. The trend for primary data to migrate off hard drives onto flash drives is starting, creating more business for the established flash array players, opportunities for start-ups and problems for the hard disk drive array vendors.

We're going to cast our eye over the field and review the suppliers in it, and offer opinions about what how the established storage array suppliers will react. This is an area looking prime for accelerated development and events could happen quickly.

Shared solid state storage suppliers

TMS initially introduced DRAM-based RamSan products, hence the "ram" in the name, and then added a flash line of RamSans alongside the faster and more expensive DRAM-based ones. It continues to lead the area and its RamSan-630 has just posted whip-cracking SPC-1 performance numbers and price/performance numbers. No other supplier comes close in the SPC-1 rankings to TMS' product performance, for the moment. We think an EMC VMAX all-flash SPC-1 Kaminario makes the K2 DRAM product, for the same market areas that TMS supplies with its DRAM-based RamSans, in-memory database screamers. It is a mid-to-late stage startup, having announced a $15m C-round of funding in May. A flash version of the K2 technology is said to be in development.

  • DataRam produces the XcelaSAN array, a DRAM device, which sits in front of SAN-attached storage arrays and acts as a large front-end cache.
  • Nimbus Data has tried the all-flash route with multi-level cell flash since April last year with its S-class unified storage array. There has been an absence of independently validated performance data but a second version of the product has been introduced and Nimbus' pioneering might well pay off.
  • Solid Access went for a UNAS 100 all-flash NAS product, eschewing block access. That could be a useful differentiator in the months ahead.
  • Violin Memory has focused on shared flash arrays and is building a great relationship with HP as that company sells against Oracle's Exadata box. Both Toshiba and Juniper have invested in Violin, demonstrating that they see potential there which they could potentially exploit. There is an air of suppressed excitement coming out of Violin, a feeling that a tipping point is coming with sales about to rise substantially.
  • WhipTail has focused on serving virtual desktop images from its Racerunner Virtual Desktop XLR8r, which uses in-line deduplication.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Seagate brings out 6TB HDD, did not need NO STEENKIN' SHINGLES
Or helium filling either, according to reports
European Court of Justice rips up Data Retention Directive
Rules 'interfering' measure to be 'invalid'
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Cisco reps flog Whiptail's Invicta arrays against EMC and Pure
Storage reseller report reveals who's selling what
Bored with trading oil and gold? Why not flog some CLOUD servers?
Chicago Mercantile Exchange plans cloud spot exchange
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?
I'll leave my arrays to do the hard work, if you don't mind
Amazon reveals its Google-killing 'R3' server instances
A mega-memory instance that never forgets
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.