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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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@CloudExpo Blogs
It’s a clear message being heard across the industry - widespread adoption of cloud applications is only a matter of time. However, the tricky part for many is, how much time do organizations actually have to hold out? And why should they switch? For starters – the cost savings are clear. Research has shown that most organizations rapidly realize significant cost savings that increase over time as they leave behind the array of indirect costs related to legacy on-premise software. A recent IDC study showed that cloud solutions offer an average payback period of 7.1 months and 5-year average R...
Change is constant, and over the last decade the nexus of two trends in particular has transformed the enterprise. Mobile technology and cloud software are fundamentally changing the way we interact internally within businesses, and externally with partners and customers. Never before have workers enjoyed such freedom and flexibility. The days of being tied to a desk, manning a landline, are gone. Distributed teams can collaborate easily via virtual workplaces. Mobile technology provides access to the business world from any location and the cloud delivers the necessary data and software.
Each of the G20 member countries outlined a Comprehensive Growth Strategy at the recent G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia. One of the more aggressive plans comes from Brazil, which has pledged to train 12 million young people in technical areas by 2018. The program is called Pronatec, and is administered by the Ministries of Labor and Education jointly with local councils. The program has actually been in effect since 2011, already reaching 8 million students, according to the report. It targets an additional 4 million students over the next four years. Its cost was listed as more than US$6...
The Industrial Revolution in the 18th to 19th centuries was a period during which predominantly rural societies in Europe and America became industrial and urban. Advances in steam technology, transportation, mass production and the telegraph collectively transformed industry and society. Today, the Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to once again transform industry and society just as the Industrial Revolution did. Analyst firm IDC forecasts that the IoT market will grow to $8.9 trillion by 2020 with anywhere between 30 to 50 billion connected autonomous things, making the potential g...
How quickly do things change in the world of mobility? Just last year, CA Technologies conducted a worldwide survey that told an entirely different story from the one we are hearing today. 2013’s Enterprise Mobility – It’s All About the Apps was a call to action for enterprise IT to keep up with customers mobility demands and employee’s desire for BYOD. If last year was about keeping up with customers’ mobile application demands, this year that issue has all but disappeared. Our 2014 survey respondents released an average of six customer-facing apps last year, and 71 percent of organizations ...
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Cloud security is a top concern for any organization migrating to the cloud. The threats are many. For example, the fact your data resides in a shared, multi-tenant environment is a threat that has become a reality with the latest Xen virtualization bug, which allowed a malicious fully virtualized server to read data about other virtualized systems running on the same physical hardware or the hypervisor). Other threats to cloud security include internal employees and even governments. The consensus is that data encryption is a critical first step to migrating to the cloud; but in fact, en...
The notion of a database silo – that is, a single database that contains everything and operates in isolation – is a rapidly fading concept in most companies. Many use multiple databases to take advantage of the different range of functionality, from their transactional store, to caching and session stores using NoSQL and, more recently, the transfer of information into analytical stores such as Hadoop. This raises a problem when it comes to moving the data about. There are many different solutions available if all you want to do is move some data between systems through import and export. T...
The pace of innovation in such big data-driven targeting technology is advancing unabated. There is so much noise in today’s omnichannel world that anything a marketer can do to get your attention is welcome – and furthermore, the more information they can collect about you, the better. For the marketer, big data mean big cha-ching. We've all been there: on our lunch hour we surreptitiously visit our favorite My Little Pony fan site. Then hours later we bring our laptop to a meeting and project our client's corporate web site for all to see - and right there at the top is a banner ad for My L...
What does the data landscape look like at Facebook with its 1.3 billion users across the globe? They classify small data referring to OLTP-like queries that process and retrieve a small amount of data, usually 1-1000 objects requested by their … Continue reading →
I’ve started using the phrase digital professional, in particular in my recent article dinging Amazon’s cloud division Amazon Web Services (AWS) for not having a clear digital strategy. However, I haven’t been very clear on what I mean, so it’s time to put a finer point on this terminology. The role of digital professional begins back in the 1990s with the rise of the web professional: people who worked on web sites in some capacity. Some of them were technical, able to sling HTML or JavaScript or perhaps Perl back in the day. Other designated as creatives, including graphic designers an...
The global village, mobile devices, online marketplaces, social networks, and on-demand entertainment all have a part to play. People all over the world are increasing the time they spend in the virtual world. They’re buying, selling, sharing, studying, developing apps, hanging out in social networks, and starting to use digital currencies that bypass traditional banking. Alongside these community-driven ideas, we are also seeing enormous change in business to business relationships. Cloud computing enables any size business to obtain and manage big-business manufacturing, warehousing, market...
This week Dell released its first Global Technology Adoption Index (GTAI). This survey of more than 2,000 global organizations took a close look at how organizations are truly using security, cloud, mobility and big data to drive success. While the data collected from this effort should put to rest any doubts about the value of cloud computing, it also calls into question our collective mental state. Are half of us schizophrenic? The survey data showed that 97 percent of organizations surveyed use or plan to use cloud. This high percentage is not surprising given that the data also showed a...
The Internet of Things could get out of control pretty fast. We’re still pretty far from self-aware homes trying to procreate, but as Gigaom Research analyst Craig Foster noted in his recent report on IoT security, the dangers are already very real. Take a look at the maritime industry. Earlier this yea, hackers tilted and... Read More
This past week the Appcore team got the opportunity to attend one of the industry’s leading cloud events, Cloud Expo in Santa Clara, CA. We spent a lot of time interacting with attendees at the exhibit portion of the event. As a software company with a sole commitment to CloudStack, we heard a lot of questions around the debate between CloudStack and OpenStack. “Do you support OpenStack?” “Why do you only support CloudStack?” “Do you plan to integrate OpenStack into your multi-cloud solution?” We can all agree that OpenStack has done a great job branding their product. That isn’t hard to do w...
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Past SYS-CON Events
    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