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SSD, Flash and DRAM, Deja Vu or Something New?
Often in technology what is old can be new, what is new can be seen as old

Recently I was in Europe for a couple of weeks including stops at Storage Networking World (SNW) Europe in Frankfurt, StorageExpo Holland, Ceph Day in Amsterdam (object and cloud storage), and Nijkerk where I delivered two separate 2 day, and a single 1 day seminar.

Image of Frankfurt transtationImage of inside front of ICE train going from Frankfurt to Utrecht

At the recent StorageExpo Holland event in Utrecht, I gave a couple of presentations, one on cloud, virtualization and storage networking trends, the other taking a deeper look at Solid State Devices (SSD's). As in the past, StorageExpo Holland was great in a fantastic venue, with many large exhibits and great attendance which I heard was over 6,000 people over two days (excluding exhibitor vendors, vars, analysts, press and bloggers) which was several times larger than what was seen in Frankfurt at the SNW event.

Image of Ilja Coolen (twitter @@iCoolen) who was session host for SSD presentation in UtrechtImage of StorageExpo Holland exhibit show floor in Utrecht

Both presentations were very well attended and included lively interactive discussion during and after the sessions. The theme of my second talk was SSD, the question is not if, rather what to use where, how and when which brings us up to this post.

For those who have been around or using SSD for more than a decade outside of cell phones, camera, SD cards or USB thumb drives, that probably means DRAM based with some form of data persistency mechanisms. More recently mention SSD and that implies nand flash-based, either MLC or eMLC or SLC or perhaps emerging mram or PCM. Some might even think of NVRAM or other forms of SSD including emerging mram or mem-resistors among others, however lets stick to nand flash and dram for now.

image of ssd technology evolution

Often in technology what is old can be new, what is new can be seen as old, if you have seen, experienced or done something before you will have a sense of DejaVu and it might be evolutionary. On the other hand, if you have not seen, heard, experienced, or found a new audience, then it can be revolutionary or maybe even an industry first ;).

Technology evolves, gets improved on, matures, and can often go in cycles of adoption, deployment, refinement, retirement, and so forth. SSD in general has been an on again, off again type cycle technology for the past several decades except for the past six to seven years. Normally there is an up cycle tied to different events, servers not being fast enough or affordable so use SSD to help address performance woes, or drives and storage systems not being fast enough and so forth.

Btw, for those of you who think that the current SSD focused technology (nand flash) is new, it is in fact 25 years old and still evolving and far from reaching its full potential in terms of customer deployment opportunities.

StorageIO industry trends cloud, virtualization and big data

Nand flash memory has helped keep SSD practical for the past several years riding the similar curve that is keeping hard disk drives (HDD's) that they were supposed to replace alive. That is improved reliability, endurance or duty cycle, better annual failure rate (AFR), larger space capacity, lower cost, and enhanced interfaces, packaging, power and functionality.

Where SSD can be used and options

DRAM historically at least for enterprise has been the main option for SSD based solutions using some form of data persistency. Data persistency options include battery backup combined with internal HDD's to de stage information from the DRAM before power was lost. TMS (recently bought by IBM) was one of the early SSD vendors from the DRAM era that made the transition to flash including being one of the first many years ago to combine DRAM as a cache layer over nand flash as a persistency or de-stage layer. This would be an example of if you were not familiar with TMS back then and their capacities, you might think or believe that some more recent introductions are new and revolutionary, and perhaps they are in their own right or with enough caveats and qualifiers.

An emerging trend, which for some will be Dejavu, is that of using more DRAM in combination with nand flash SSD.

Oracle is one example of a vendor who IMHO rather quietly (intentionally or accidentally) has done this in the 7000 series storage systems as well as ExaData based database storage systems. Rest assured they are not alone and in fact many of the legacy large storage vendors have also piled up large amounts of DRAM based cache in their storage systems. For example EMC with 2TByte of DRAM cache in their VMAX 40K, or similar systems from Fujitsu HP, HDS, IBM and NetApp (including recent acquisition of DRAM based CacheIQ) among others. This has also prompted the question of if SSD has been successful in traditional storage arrays, systems or appliances as some would have you believe not, click here to learn more and cast your vote.

SSD, IO, memory and storage hirearchy

So is the future in the past? Some would say no, some will say yes, however IMHO there are lessons to learn and leverage from the past while looking and moving forward.

Early SSD's were essentially RAM disks, that is a portion of main random access memory (RAM) or what we now call DRAM set aside as a non persistent (unless battery backed up) cache or device. Using a device driver, applications could use the RAM disk as though it were a normal storage system. Different vendors springing up with drivers for various platforms and disappeared as their need were reduced with faster storage systems, interfaces and ram disks drives supplied by vendors, not to mention SSD devices.

Oh, for you tech trivia types, there was also database machines from the late 80s such as Briton Lee that would offload your database processing functions to a specialized appliance. Sound like Oracle ExaData I, II or III to anybody?

Image of Oracle ExaData storage system

Ok, so we have seen this movie before, no worries, old movies or shows get remade, and unless you are nostalgic or cling to the past, sure some of the remakes are duds, however many can be quite good.

Same goes with the remake of some of what we are seeing now. Sure there is a generation that does not know nor care about the past, its full speed ahead and leverage what will get them there.

Thus we are seeing in memory databases again, some of you may remember the original series (pick your generation, platform, tool and technology) with each variation getting better. With 64 bit processor, 128 bit and beyond file system and addressing, not to mention ability for more DRAM to be accessed directly, or via memory address extension, combined with memory data footprint reduction or compression, there is more space to put things (e.g. no such thing as a data or information recession).

Lets also keep in mind that the best IO is the IO that you do not have to do, and that SSD which is an extension of the memory map plays by the same rules of real estate. That is location matters.

Thus, here we go again for some of you (DejaVu), while for others get ready for a new and exciting ride (new and revolutionary). We are back to the future with in memory database which while for a time will take some pressure from underlying IO systems until they once again out grow server memory addressing limits (or IT budgets).

However for those who do not fall into a false sense of security, no fear, as there is no such thing as a data or information recession. Sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, sooner or later those IO's that were or are being kept in memory will need to be de-staged to persistent storage, either nand flash SSD, HDD or somewhere down the road PCM, mram and more.

StorageIO industry trends cloud, virtualization and big data

There is another trend that with more IOs being cached, reads are moving to where they should resolve which is closer to the application or via higher up in the memory and IO pyramid or hierarchy (shown above).

Thus, we could see a shift over time to more writes and ugly IOs being sent down to the storage systems. Keep in mind that any cache historically provides temporal relieve, question is how long of a temporal relief or until the next new and revolutionary or DejaVu technology shows up.

Ok, nuff said (for now).

Cheers Gs

Greg Schulz - Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press, 2011), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press, 2009), and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier, 2004)

twitter @storageio

All Comments, (C) and (TM) belong to their owners/posters, Other content (C) Copyright 2006-2012 StorageIO All Rights Reserved

Read the original blog entry...

About Greg Schulz
Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.

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Cloud Expo - Cloud Looms Large on SYS-CON.TV


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Introducing Big Data Expo
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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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Cloud Expo was a fantastic event for CSS Corp - we easily exceeded our objectives for engaging with clients and prospects."
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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..."
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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!"
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@CloudExpo Blogs
This digest provides an overview of good resources that are well worth reading. We’ll be updating this page as new content becomes available, so I suggest you bookmark it. Also, expect more digests to come on different topics that make all of our IT-hearts go boom!
A data breach could happen to anyone. Data managed by your company is valuable to someone, no matter what the data is. Everything has a price tag on the dark web. It is especially true when it is customer data, such as personal and payment card details. When your customers’ data turns up somewhere unexpected on the Internet, you may feel the world is collapsing around you. People start tweeting about the hack, angry customers phone in, and Brian Krebs publishes his first article. Your organization switches to an emergency mode to handle the situation. It is the time when your incident respons...
From wearable activity trackers to fantasy e-sports, data and technology are transforming the way athletes train for the game and fans engage with their teams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, will present key data findings from leading sports organizations San Francisco 49ers, Orlando Magic NBA team. By utilizing data analytics these sports orgs have recognized new revenue streams, doubled its fan base and streamlined costs at its stadiums. John Paul is the CEO and Founder of VenueNext. Prior to VenueNext, he spent over 35 years as a founder, CEO or executive leader of product and engineerin...
Continuous testing helps bridge the gap between developing quickly and maintaining high quality products. But to implement continuous testing, CTOs must take a strategic approach to building a testing infrastructure and toolset that empowers their team to move fast. Download our guide to laying the groundwork for a scalable continuous testing strategy.
IT planning is an imprecise science that allows IT experts to increase the flexibility and agility of IT environments while reducing the bottom line. In an ideal world, where time and budget are not limiting factors, upgrading an organization's infrastructure happens on an ongoing, as-needed basis. In the real world, IT administrators have to make decisions about the hardware they put in place and how to maintain acceptable service levels over the course of the equipment's expected life. Most businesses do not have the luxury of replacing their current storage systems when IT demands outpace ...
In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Sagi Brody, Chief Technology Officer at Webair Internet Development Inc., and Logan Best, Infrastructure & Network Engineer at Webair, focused on real world deployments of DDoS mitigation strategies in every layer of the network. He gave an overview of methods to prevent these attacks and best practices on how to provide protection in complex cloud platforms. He also outlined what we have found in our experience managing and running thousands of Linux and Unix managed service platforms and what specifically can be done to offer protection at every layer. He o...
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
Opining about the future of AI at the recent Brilliant Minds event at Symposium Stockholm, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt rejected warnings from Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking about the dangers of AI, saying, “In the case of Stephen Hawking, although a brilliant man, he’s not a computer scientist. Elon is also a brilliant man, though he too is a physicist, not a computer scientist.” This absurd dismissal of Musk and Hawking was in response to an absurd question about “the possibility of an artificial superintelligence trying to destroy mankind in the near future.” Schmidt went on to sa...
Unless your company can spend a lot of money on new technology, re-engineering your environment and hiring a comprehensive cybersecurity team, you will most likely move to the cloud or seek external service partnerships. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Darren Guccione, CEO of Keeper Security, revealed what you need to know when it comes to encryption in the cloud.
The data warehouse and data lake are two different types of data storage repository. The data warehouse integrates data from different sources and suits business reporting. The data lake stores raw structured and unstructured data in whatever form the data source provides. It does not require prior knowledge of the analyses you think you want to perform. A data lake is a storage repository that holds a vast amount of raw data in its native format until it is needed. While a hierarchical data warehouse stores data in files or folders, a data lake uses a flat architecture to store data.
When digital laggards finally recognize the degree of change digital technologies will force upon their businesses, and desperately try to outrun the inescapable Darwinian effect of their slow start, they will be faced with not one, but three ages of digital transformation to navigate and survive. Understanding these ages, and what is unique about each one, is critical for business strategy, prioritizing, planning, sequencing and budgeting.
The Dean of the University of San Francisco School of Management, Elizabeth Davis, recently asked me to sit on a Big Data panel at the Direct Sales Association conference. I was given a 5-minute slot to “demystify” Big Data to a non-technical group of about 1,000 people; to help them understand where and how this thing called “Big Data” could help them. Well if you know me, I can barely introduce myself in 5 minutes. But this was particularly challenging for me, as I’m used to talking about Big Data with organizations with at least some level of Big Data experience or understanding (maybe the...
Digital transformation typically begins as low cost POCs (proof of concepts), that evolve into mission critical corporate initiatives as positive results, consumer demands and market trends converge. Digital transformation becomes mission critical when consumers vote with their money to accept the digital replacements for physical products, services and processes.
Are you still pondering whether to integrate cloud computing services into the structure of your IT network? You are not the only one. Most IT professionals are very concerned about data security, so they aren’t that willing to switch to cloud computing solutions that easily. It’s a fact that even advanced services like Amazon’s EC2 aren’t ready to cater to all privacy needs of data-sensitive companies.
Microsoft took another step toward being king of the cloud hill when it announced in January that it was releasing its Azure stack to the public. There are many technical reasons why this is cool, but more importantly, it's the psychological advantage this gives Microsoft. Google has always had the ability for developers using its stack to develop locally on the same tools that run in Google App Engine. It recently forked its environments, so now the local and cloud environments are slightly different for some of the configurations -- I can't tell you how many nights I have lost sleep becaus...
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Past SYS-CON Events
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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."
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CTO
Brick Group