According to the tens of thousands of press releases that I have seen over the years, almost every IT vendor is the leader in however narrowly they’ve described their markets. That’s just Marketing 101, so I tend to ignore the claims like SolidFire’s ‘the leader in all-flash storage systems built for the Next Generation Data Center’, even when they might be true. Because there is always tomorrow and another new leader.
However, for now, the all-flash storage vendor that got it’s start at cloud and hosting provider Rackspace, is bolstering its leadership claims with the latest release of its Element OS (V6). Due out in the second quarter, Carbon – the 6th element in the periodic table, said SolidFire’s Jay Prassl, VP Marketing – features: 16Gb active/active Fibre Channel (FC) connectivity to it’s line of all-flash arrays; Real-Time Replication technology for creating additional remote copies of data;Mixed-Node Cluster Support for storage nodes of different capacity, performance, and protocols within a single cluster; and, Integrated Backup & Restore provides native snapshot-based backup and restore functionality compatible with any object store or device that has an S3 or SWIFT compatible API.
“All flash arrays are not created equal,” said Prassl. What framework those features fit in is probably more important than just the features, he added.
Prassl said enterprises are under pressure to try and do five things: deploy new applications and services faster; provide more agile and scalable infrastructure; increase application performance and predictability; enable automation and end-user self-service; and raise operational efficiency and reduce cost. Increasingly, they are turning to flash or solid-state memory, to help accomplish these objectives.
The latest external disk storage numbers from IDC show that factory revenues increased 2.4% year over year by, to $6.9 billion, during the fourth quarter of 2013. Combined internal plus external disk storage systems generated $8.8 billion in revenue, up 1.3% from 4Q12 and 17.2% from 3Q13, while total disk storage systems capacity shipped grew 26.2% year over year.
EMC (32.9%) continued atop the leader board, more than double its closest competitor, IBM (13.0%), followed by NetApp (11.5%), HP (9.6%) and Hitachi (8.1%).
EMC may be continuing to show its heels to its competitors, but flash is gathering momentum, said IDC. Just the all-flash array market is expected to reach $1.6 billion in 2016, up from about $300 million last year. Then you can throw in hybrid arrays, which are part flash and part hard drive, server or memory-based flash.
Like tape, the death of spinning disk is being exaggerated, but it’s certainly going to change as flash becomes less expensive. “HDDs have really been our only practical, least-worst option for most data for a long time…certainly for the time that we have had modern IT,” said Mark Peters, Senior Analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group.
“Now, I am certainly not being an apologist for the sudden overnight extinction of diskosaurus, but the rapid current move to deploy varying types of solid-state storage (across many devices, and in many iterations, sometimes just judiciously added and sometimes replacing chunks of spinning data) is certainly a glimpse of the future. It is too logical to ignore, as the price becomes more right for more of the data….”
Following SolidFire’s first Analyst Day at the end of February Peters said in the Next Generation Data Centers (NGDC), “[flash] performance is merely table-stakes – whereas such things as simplicity, efficiency, scalability, automation, and integration will determine the winning and losing vendors. CSPs were some of the first disciples of this new mantra; now that checkbooks are being opened for such abilities across the IT board, SolidFire is happy to point out its ability to play.”
His colleague, Senior Analyst Wayne Pauley, was equally impressed when he met with SolidFire in December, and was told him they were a software company. “So now I think I get why the folks at SolidFire are so excited – they have a great solution built on software (think SDS) for SSD that cloud providers are buying and delivering services on. This isn’t marketecture – this is the real deal and I think it is an important part of the shift in the way clouds are being built.”
Even ESG founder and Senior Analyst Steve Duplessie shouted the company’s praises in a canned comment announcing Carbon. “SolidFire attacks what to me is the most glaring missing element in tomorrow’s enterprise data center – Quality of Service.” As more and more applications are delivered from shared storage infrastructure – performance predictability and scale have become paramount, he stated. “That’s been the problem with traditional storage architectures in the modern era of infrastructure virtualization.”
Under The Hood
Carbon’s new features include:
-FC & iSCSI simultaneously
-Agile scaling to any size or speed with mixed node clusters
-Most efficient native Real-Time Replication on any AFA
-Integrated Backup and Restore (AWS / Swift API Support)
-General Availability Q2 2014