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The Evolution of Solid State Arrays
Solid state storage continues to evolve

In the first wave of solid-state storage arrays, we saw commodity style SSDs (solid state drives) being added to traditional storage arrays. This solution provided an incremental benefit in performance over spinning hard drives, however the back-end technology in these arrays was developed up to 20 years ago and was purely focused around driving performance out of the slowest part of the infrastructure – the hard drive.  Of course SSDs are an order of magnitude faster than HDDs so you can pretty much guarantee SSDs in traditional arrays results in underused resources, but is premium priced.

Wave 2 of SSD arrays saw the development of custom hardware, mostly still continuing to use commodity SSDs.  At this point we saw full exploitation of the solid state capabilities, with architecture designed to provide the full performance capabilities of solid state drives.  These arrays removed unnecessary or bottlenecking features (like cache) and provided much more back-end scalability.  Within the wave 2 group, Nimbus Data have chosen a hybrid approach and developed their own solid state drives.  This gives them more control over the management functionality of the SSDs and subsequently more control over performance and availability.

Notably, some startup vendors have taken a slightly different approach.  Violin Memory have chosen from day 1 to use custom NAND memory cards called VIMMs (Violin Intelligent Memory Module). This technology removes the need for NAND to emulate a hard drive and for the interface between the processor/memory & persistent memory (e.g. the NAND) to go across a hard drive interface like SAS using the SCSI protocol.  Whilst it could be debated that the savings from removing the disk drive protocol could be marginal, the use of NAND that doesn’t emulate hard drives is about much more than that.  SSD controllers have many features to extend the life of the drive itself.  This includes wear levelling and garbage collection, features that could have a direct impact on device performance.  Custom NAND components can, for instance allow wear levelling to be achieved across the entire array or for individual cell failures to be managed more efficiently.

Building bespoke NAND components isn’t cheap.  Violin have chosen to invest in technology that they believe gives them an advantage in their hardware – no dependency on SSD manufacturers.  The ability to build advanced functionality into their persistent memory means availability can be increased (components don’t need to be swapped out as frequently – failing components can be partially used).

At this point we should do a call out to Texas Memory Systems, recently acquired by IBM.  They have also used custom NAND components; their RamSan-820 uses 500GB flash modules using eMLC memory.

I believe that the third wave will see many more vendors looking to move away from the SSD form factor and building bespoke NAND components as Violin have done.  Currently Violin and TMS have the headstart.  They’ve done the hard work and built the foundation of their platform.  Their future innovations will probably revolve around bigger and faster devices and replacing NAND with whatever is the next generation of persistent memory.

Last week, HDS announced their approach to full flash devices; a new custom-build Flash Module Drive (FMD) that can be added to the VSP platform.  This provides 1.6TB or 3.2TB (higher capacity due March 2013) of storage per module, which can then be stacked into an 8U shelf of 48 FMDs in total – a total of 600TB of flash in a single VSP.  Each FMD is like a traditional SSD drive in terms of height and width, but is much deeper in size.  It appears to the VSP as a traditional SSD.

The FMD chassis is separate to the existing disk chassis that are deployed in the VSP and so FMDs can’t be deployed in conjunction with hard drives.  Although this seems like a negative, the flash modules have higher specification back-end directors (to fully utilise the flash performance), which, in addition to their size, explains why they wouldn’t be mixed together.

Creating a discrete flash module provides Hitachi with a number of benefits compared to individual MLC SSDs including:

  • Higher performance on mixed workloads
  • Inbuilt compression using the onboard custom chips
  • Improved ECC error correction using onboard code and hardware
  • Lower power per TB consumption from higher memory density
  • > 1,000,000 IOPS in a single array

The new FMDs can also be used with HDT (dynamic tiering) to cater for mixed sub-LUN workloads and of course Hitachi’s upgraded microcode is already optimised to work with flash devices.

The Architect’s View
Solid state storage continues to evolve.  NAND flash is fast and has its foibles but this can be overcome with dedicated NAND modules.  Today, only four vendors have moved to dedicated solid-state components while the others continue to use commodity SSDs.  At scale, performance and availability, when viewed in terms of consistency become much more important.  Many vendors today are producing high performance devices, but how well will they scale going forward and how resilient will they be?  As the market matures, these differences will be the dividing line between survival and failure.

Disclaimer: I recently attended the Hitachi Bloggers’ and Influencers’ Days 2012.  My flights and accommodation were covered by Hitachi during the trip, however there is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time when attending the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

Related Links

Comments are always welcome; please indicate if you work for a vendor as it’s only fair. If you have any related links of interest, please feel free to add them as a comment for consideration.

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Cloud Expo 2013 East Opening Keynote by IBM
In this Cloud Expo Keynote, Danny Sabbah, CTO & General Manager, Next Generation Platform, will detail the critical architectural considerations and success factors organizations must internalize to successfully implement, optimize and innovate using next generation architectures.
Lisa Larson, Vice President of Enterprise Cloud Solutions of Rackspace Hosting Live From New York City
In the old world of IT, if you didn't have hardware capacity or the budget to buy more, your project was dead in the water. Budget constraints can leave some of the best, most creative and most ingenious innovations on the cutting room floor. It's a true dilemma for developers and innovators – why spend the time creating, when a project could be abandoned in a blink? That was the old world. In the new world of IT, developers rule. They have access to resources they can spin up instantly. A hybrid cloud ignites innovation and empowers developers to focus on what they need. A hybrid cloud blends the best of all worlds, public cloud, private cloud and dedicated servers to fit the needs of developers and offer the ideal environment for each app and workload without the constraints of a one-size-fits-all cloud.

Keynote: Driving Cloud Innovation: SSDs Change Cloud Storage Paradigm
Cloud is a transformational shift in computing that can have a powerful effect on enterprise IT when designed correctly and used to its full potential. Join Citrix in a discussion that centers on building, connecting and empowering users with cloud services and hear examples of how enterprises are solving real-world business challenges with an architecture and solution purpose-built for the cloud.

Go Beyond IaaS to Deliver "Anything As a Service"
Many organizations want to expand upon the IaaS foundation to deliver cloud services in all forms—software, mobility, infrastructure and IT. Understanding the strategy, planning process and tools for this transformation will help catalyze changes in the way the business operates and deliver real value. Join us to learn about the new ITaaS model and how to begin the transformation.


@CloudExpo Stories
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As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of ...
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Mobile, social, Big Data, and cloud have fundamentally changed the way we live. “Anytime, anywhere” access to data and information is no longer a luxury; it’s a requirement, in both our personal and professional lives. For IT organizations, this means pressure has never been greater to deliver meaningful services to the business and customers.
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This Enterprise Strategy Group lab validation report of the NEC Express5800/R320 server with Intel® Xeon® processor presents the benefits of 99.999% uptime NEC fault-tolerant servers that lower overall virtualized server total cost of ownership. This report also includes survey data on the significant costs associated with system outages impacting enterprise and web applications. Click Here to Download Report Now!
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Puppet Labs is pleased to share the findings from our 2015 State of DevOps Survey. We have deepened our understanding of how DevOps enables IT performance and organizational performance, based on responses from more than 20,000 technical professionals we’ve surveyed over the past four years. The 2015 State of DevOps Report reveals high-performing IT organizations deploy 30x more frequently with 200x shorter lead times. They have 60x fewer failures and recover 168x faster
Top Stories for Cloud Expo 2012 East

In this CEO Power Panel at the 10th International Cloud Expo, moderated by Cloud Expo Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan, David Canellos, President and CEO of PerspecSys; Lawrence Guillory, CEO of Racemi; John Keagy, Founder, Chairman and CEO of GoGrid; Treb Ryan, Co-Founder & CEO of OpSource; Joe Weinman, Sr. VP of Cloud Services & Strategy at Telx; Jeff Newlin, Vice President and General Manager of OutSystems North America; and Darryl Brown, CMO at Appcore discussed such topics as: Is it just wishful thinking to depict the Cloud as more than just a technology solution? If not, then what concrete examples best demonstrate cloud computing as an engine of business value? ... (more)

Best Recent Articles on Cloud Computing & Big Data Topics
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What do you get when you combine Big Data technologies….like Pig and Hive? A flying pig? No, you get a “Logical Data Warehouse.” In 2012, Infochimps (now CSC) leveraged its early use of stream processing, NoSQLs, and Hadoop to create a design pattern which combined real-time, ad-hoc, and batch analytics. This concept of combining the best-in-breed Big Data technologies will continue to advance across the industry until the entire legacy (and proprietary) data infrastructure stack will be replaced with a new (and open) one.
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[June 11-14, 2012]

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There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Get a jump on that rapidly evolving trend at Big Data Expo, which we are introducing in June at
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Testimonials
Cloud Expo was a fantastic event for CSS Corp - we easily exceeded our objectives for engaging with clients and prospects."
AHMAR ABBAS
SVP, Global Infrastructure Management, CSS Corp.
 
With our launch at Cloud Expo, we successfully transformed the company from a relatively unknown European player into the dominant player in the market. Our competitors were taken by surprise and just blown away. We got a huge number of really high quality leads..."
PETE MALCOLM
CEO, Abiquo
 
We were extremely pleased with Cloud Expo this year - I’d say it exceeded expectations all around. This is the same info we got from partners who attended as well. Nice job!"
MARY BASS
Director of Marketing, UnivaUD
 
Cloud Expo helps focus the debate on the critical issues at hand in effect connecting main street with the next frontier."

GREG O’CONNOR
President & CEO, Appzero


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@CloudExpo Blogs
Cloud security is at the top of every CIO’s list. It is also the first subject that comes up when you engage in a discussion about the cloud. For those of us who followed the recent Ashley Madison story (from a tech perspective), you would agree that while the breach happened for so many reasons, security is at the heart of it. Here are some key aspects for creating a solid organization, keeping cloud security in perspective.
Tune into: a cloud mindset One of the tenets of the cloud religion is that it should be possible – through the use of intelligent software – to build reliable systems on top of unreliable hardware. Just like you can build reliable and affordable storage systems using RAID (Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks). One of…Read more Tune into the Cloud – Losing My Religion
In the Information Technology (IT) world, the word “enterprise” is bandied about quite often. First, I really have no idea how to bandy about. If it involves incense and oils, I may have an idea, but let’s talk about enterprises instead. If you do some serious digging, you’ll find out an enterprise is a federation, in other words, a collection of related business units with a common goal of profitability. It is an aggregate, dynamic yet unified entity that provides a product or service to benefit customers in return for revenue and profit. You’ll probably hear “enterprise” loosely and actua...
In 2011, then United States CIO Vivek Kundra released the US Federal Cloud Computing Strategy [1]. In the executive summary he pointed to cloud computing as a key component of the US Federal Government’s information technology modernization efforts: “Cloud computing has the potential to play a major part in addressing these inefficiencies and improving government service delivery. The cloud computing model can significantly help agencies grappling with the need to provide highly reliable, innovative services quickly despite resource constraints.”
In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ernest Mueller, Product Manager at Idera, will explain the best practices and lessons learned for tracking and optimizing costs while delivering a cloud-hosted service. He will describe a DevOps approach where the applications and systems work together to track usage, model costs in a granular fashion, and make smart decisions at runtime to minimize costs. The trickier parts covered include triggering off the right metrics; balancing resilience and redundancy vs cost, and balancing AWS purchase options like reserve instances and spot instances vs your applic...
The cloud has transformed the way companies purchase and deploy software. Department managers buy best-of-breed solutions for marketing automation, budgeting and forecasting, financials, procurement, expense management and more. This open marketplace can create “cloud silos,” which offers a single department the opportunity to increase productivity, but can actually hamper visibility into business drivers when data in these critical systems have to be accessed across or between systems. By combining these cloud islands into an integrated, responsive and agile technology nerve center for the ...
Now that we’ve had a few years of cloud adoption under our belts, I thought it was a good time to take a look at how some of the cloud models are performing. Public cloud has it’s own great case study with Amazon AWS, and private clouds see strong supporters with forward-thinking IT teams. But there is another model that is winning over IT teams, the hybrid cloud, and it has good reason to. With the rise of cloud models, we’ve heard a lot about the benefits of public and private clouds. Public clouds gave us the ability to leverage low-cost services to help organizations transition to cloud...
In case you missed it, the first phase of cloud computing has left the building. Thousands of companies are in the cloud. Practically all organizations regardless of size already have production applications in a public, off-premises cloud or a private cloud. Yep. Been there, done that. And the vast majority of these applications use the classic “SaaS-style” public cloud model. Someone develops a useful service and hosts it on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud Marketplace, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) or one of several other cloud vendors. Accessing this external service ...
Is your company struggling with the idea of using “cloud hosting” in order to save money? Truth be known, using cost savings as the primary reason for moving to cloud will almost guarantee failure. Some reasons that typically lead to cloud computing costing more include: Building and migrating to a private cloud, which will almost always cost more than staying in a traditional data center; Migrating legacy applications that weren’t designed to operate in a virtualized environment or are tied to very specific environments run on older operating systems or require out-of-date drivers;
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
Today’s business ecosystems span across multiple organizations, security perimeters and trust zones, increasing the number of attack vectors. With the migration of enterprise applications to the cloud, attack surfaces have expanded significantly. Compounding the problem, today’s wave of attacks are more sophisticated and diversified than ever. The combination of enterprise complexity and advanced attacks has broken the traditional enterprise perimeter, creating the perfect storm for threats and information loss, where a new security paradigm is needed.
Transitioning from the freedom of summer to the structure of back to work and school can be tough for all of us. Yet, September is a time of renewal, a time to refocus on our goals and remember that, sometimes, making big changes begins with small ones. The key is not to overwhelm ourselves, but to keep moving forward, often with small steps at a time. We know that the big work of migrating hundreds of thousands of machines running Windows Server 2003 -- including 175 million websites or one fifth of the internet, according to recent numbers provided by Internet services firm Netcraft -- st...
If you’re part of a substantial development organization standardized on Microsoft development tools, chances are you’ll need to integrate Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) and Visual Studio with third-party tools. The DevOps movement further highlights the need to connect a diverse set of people, processes, and tools, including the business stakeholders and the operations space. When establishing a modern end-to-end development practice you’ll almost certainly need to hit the integration button. Here are a few insights to set you on the right path: The Microsoft Visual Studio Integrated...
There are many parallels to Google’s move to set up Alphabet as a holding company to remain at the forefront of innovation and what is required by all companies to foster innovation in the age of the Cloud and IoT. No one will argue that Alphabet was a change Google needed to make to remain relevant, fresh and innovative across a number of product initiatives. Under the Alphabet structure, Google provides operating divisions with the freedom and accountability for making decisions all while being nimble and quick on their feet. And perhaps most importantly, keeping their most creative people e...
Like me, you’re probably familiar with the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. A cautionary tale about the consequences of reneging on debt – it sure scared the crap out of me as a kid. In enterprise IT, we also accrue debt, but of the technical kind. While the results of non-payment aren’t as severe as those suffered by the good folk of Hamelin, not ‘paying the piper’ will have dire consequences for any businesses trying to compete on an economic playing field where the rules are determined by software. DevOps of course is now being touted as a tune organizations must play if they’re to dig...
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    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2011west.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
cloudcexpo
2011east.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2010west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualization
2010west.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2010.
sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
cloudcomputingexpo
2010east.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo East
virtualizationconference
2010east.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2009west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualizationconference
2009west.sys-con.com
    GovIT Expo
govitexpo.com
 
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2009.sys-con.com
 

Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

Ryan
OpSource

Butte
PwC

Leone
Oracle

Riley
AWS

Varia
AWS

Lye
Oracle

O'Connor
AppZero

Crandell
RightScale

Nucci
Dell Boomi

Hillier
CiRBA

Morrison
Layer 7 Tech

Robbins
NYT

Schwarz
Oracle

What The Enterprise IT World Says About Cloud Expo
 
"We had extremely positive feedback from both customers and prospects that attended the show and saw live demos of NaviSite's enterprise cloud based services."
  –William Toll
Sr. Director, Marketing & Strategic Alliances
Navisite
 


 
"More and better leads than ever expected! I have 4-6 follow ups personally."
  –Richard Wellner
Chief Scientist
Univa UD
 


 
"Good crowd, good questions. The event looked very successful."
  –Simon Crosby
CTO
Citrix Systems
 


 
"It's the largest cloud computing conference I've ever seen."
  –David Linthicum
CTO
Brick Group