Flash memory storage vendor SanDisk, which has taken a complementary approach to bringing flash to the enterprise, is promising significantly improved performance for the new release of its server-side solid state caching software for Windows Server and Linux operating systems. While other flash vendors claim disk is dead, the company believes coexistence with disk – and other flash/SSD offerings – is the way to go, said Rich Peterson, Director, Marketing Management, SanDisk Enterprise Storage Solutions.
“Flash is generally too expensive to implement in enterprise… and has a lot of features you wouldn’t consider sacrificing for,” he said. So it has to be complementary, not competitive.
That makes it largely a software problem and one reason why it acquired FlashSoft 16 months ago, said Peterson. “The low-hanging fruit for flash is to address the I/O bottlenecks, latency between server and storage… overprovisioning… [and] buying capacity to get performance. That’s just an inefficient use of money.”
The answer, according to SanDisk, is to get flash into servers, right next to the CPU, and deliver the best results he said. “Up until now, most flash deployments… and the perception… is it’s a little bit of a luxury sports car. But if you’re deploying flash memory appropriately… it can actually deliver value.”
Solid state storage strategies are changing the economics of data management but the challenge is adding enterprise flash technology without major disruptions to ongoing IT operations, said Jeff Boles, senior analyst and director of Lab Validation Services, The Taneja Group, in a prepared statement. “SanDisk’s FlashSoft software efficiently integrates solid state cache into servers without changing where data is stored or the features and capabilities of a consolidated storage approach. This ‘disruptionless’ approach dramatically simplifies the introduction of solid state, and allows SanDisk customers to immediately address performance challenges without changing existing storage strategies.”
The enterprise external disk market appears to be struggling, reporting its first revenue decline (to $5.9 billion) since 2009, while capacity shipped grew 26.4% (to 7.8 exabytes) year-over-year in the first quarter. The future looked much brighter for solid state storage (SSS) in conjunction with solid state drives (SSDs) in the enterprise, stated IDC, with revenues rising to $1.2 billion by 2015.
“Traditional disk technology has not kept pace with CPU technology, resulting in a significant performance gap between storage and computing,” said Dan Iacono, Research Director, Storage Systems. “This shortfall in performance presents a huge opportunity for solid state storage to fill the void in terms of both input/output operations per second (IOPS) and latency.”
Although the historical metric of dollar per gigabyte ($/GB) remains an important factor in the purchasing process, price performance metrics, such as dollar per IOP ($/IOP) and dollar per workload ($/workload) are holding more weight, said IDC.
Organizations looking to virtualize their mission critical applications identified storage-related costs and I/O performance issues as significant obstacles, according to a recent survey by DataCore Software. Integration difficulties associated with flash memory and solid state disks (SSDs) also ranked high among the factors discouraging organizations from applying these fast technologies, it noted.
The emerging software-based/software-defined storage (SBS/SDS) market is critical to the software-defined datacenter stack, said IDC. “Software-based platforms will continue to grow faster than any other market segment in the file- and object-based storage market,” said Ashish Nadkarni, Research Director, Storage Systems. With the proliferation of SBS platforms, the delineation between hardware, software, and cloud storage suppliers will blur and eventually disappear.
FlashSoft 3.2 benefits include:
-multiple SSD support, with SSD mirroring for “safe write-back” caching;
-support for up to four caches on a single server;
-acceleration of up to 2048 volumes per cache;
-maximum cache size increased to two terabytes per cache; and,
-support for volume-based storage architectures, including direct-attached storage (DAS) and storage area network (SAN) configurations.
FlashSoft 3.2 for Windows Server ($3,000), FlashSoft 3.2 for Linux ($3,500) and FlashSoft 3.1 for VMware vSphere ($3,900), which was announced in April, are available now.