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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
My colleague, Jennelle Crothers, and I got a chance to chat about the usability and ease of use in this episode of Windows 10 series in TechNet Radio. She’s great and we had much fun doing it. Jennelle did a quick demo on how to make Windows 10 even easier to use.
Teams that have embraced DevOps and begun using the practice of test driven development are familiar with the headaches that accompany testing legacy code. This is particularly true for companies that have applications out in production that have been working for years, but have no formal tests or testing regiment associated with its codebase. Most of the time the physical code for the applications is known; many times it is not. In fact, both the code and the developer who wrote the code might have left the building years ago.
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The arrival of the Microsoft Azure Stack Technical Preview marks a turning point in the cloud-computing market and forms a leading indicator of how dramatically Microsoft has changed in the past two years. The cloud turning point comes because the path to hybrid-cloud capabilities and benefits has a powerful new usher, one with the enterprise, developer, and service-provider presence, R and D budget, and competitive imperative to succeed in a market still underserved and nebulous.
2016 will be the year of the data lake. But I expect that much of 2016 data lake efforts will be focused on activities and projects that save the company more money. That is okay from a foundation perspective, but IT and Business will both miss the bigger opportunity to leverage the data lake (and its associated analytics) to make the company more money. This blog examines an approach that allows organizations to quickly achieve some “save me more money” cost benefits from their data lake without losing sight of the bigger “make me more money” payoff – by coupling the data lake with data scie...
For Valentine's Day, here's a lighthearted look at the "relationship" between two complementary technologies: service virtualization and cloud dev/test labs. Hey, I know it's been a while since we started being "a thing." When we met, everyone said you were just mocking, and that I wasn't real enough to make a living, with my head in the clouds. Yet, here we are, a few years later.
The Net Neutrality fight has been all over the news this year with the latest installment on Net Neutrality coming in from T-Mobile. Private and public companies alike are tuned into to this continual saga to see how the eventual outcome will affect business and ultimately their online lives. But whether the FCC’s recent ruling on Net Neutrality stands the test of time or not, there is a new technology that will provide customers fast, reliable Internet services at much lower costs than private business lines.
Enterprises across all industries are in the midst of difficult, bet-the-company changes we call digital transformation. And yet, there remains broad confusion about the scope of the word digital. While the rise of mobile technologies are the impetus for many such transformations, digital goes well beyond the choice of user device. In fact, digital transformation reflects the fact that customer preferences and behavior are driving enterprise technology decisions – and such technology decisions impact the entire organization, from innovative, customer-focused efforts all the way to the traditi...
With some of the busiest shopping days of the year behind us, now is the time for retailers to pause for a moment to evaluate what worked, and to consider new online strategies and technologies for the 2016 shopping season. We don’t yet have numbers for 2015, but in 2014, holiday season retail e-commerce spending in the United States amounted to 53.3 billion U.S. dollars with the most money being spent online on Cyber Monday. Fujitsu is working with Grid Dynamics to deliver an Oracle Commerce Platform as a fully-managed cloud service. I had a chance to sit down with Victoria Livschitz, E...
At first adopted by enterprises to consolidate physical servers, virtualization is now widely used in cloud computing to offer elasticity and scalability. On the other hand, Docker has developed a new way to handle Linux containers, inspired by version control software such as Git, which allows you to keep all development versions. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Dominique Rodrigues, the co-founder and CTO of Nanocloud Software, discussed how in order to also handle QEMU / KVM virtual machines versions, they have developed a new tool, called Vm_commit, which can create commits, backup any ...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing at a rapid pace with millions of new devices getting connected every day. Gartner forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use in 2016 and by 2020, the number will reach 20.8 billion. Billions of devices including smartphones, laptops, cars, watches, refrigerators, and even thermostats are all getting connected thanks to APIs. Many of these devices are part of a larger application ecosystem, connected to the cloud and each other using the same APIs.
Microservices are all the rage right now — and the industry is still learning, experimenting, and developing patterns, for successfully designing, deploying and managing Microservices in the real world. Are you considering jumping on the Microservices-wagon? Do Microservices make sense for your particular use case? What are some of the “gotchas” you should be aware of? This morning on #c9d9 we had experts from popular chat app Kik, SMB SaaS platform Yodle and hosted CI solution Semaphore share their journey and learnings from decomposing their monolithic application into Microservices. Wit...
Earlier this week it was reported that researchers at Boston-based security company, Rapid7, identified several security flaws in an app connected to a new toy from Mattel's Fisher-Price brand. The news of the security vulnerability caught our attention for a few reasons: The name of the toy - Smart Toy Bear - is strangely close to the name of our company SmartBear Software. More importantly, the story caught our attention because the security vulnerability brought up an important reminder about the important issue of security in today's connected world
Non-profit New York Genome Center manages and analyzes up to 12 terabytes of data each day with a swift, cost efficient, and accessible big-data analytics platform. To hear how genome analysis pioneers exploit vast data outputs to speedily correlate for time-sensitive research, please join me in welcoming our guest, Toby Bloom, Deputy Scientific Director for Informatics at the New York Genome Center in New York City. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
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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