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4 entries from June 2008

June 30, 2008

1.013: more on enterprise flash

Sometimes I just can't keep my opinions to myself.

Last Friday afternoon while I was perusing Chris Mellor's Blocks and Files, I was struck by the discontinuity of messaging that is emerging around the "best" application of Flash drives. From the "flash can't write fast enough" doom and gloom of the relatively unknown wanna-bee Infortrend to the "flash is too fast for external storage" justification for Sun's focus on server-based flash, it struck me that uninformed readers were likely being confused, if not outright mislead by the contradictory misinformation.

So I dashed a letter off to Chris outlining my concerns and rebutting the misrepresentations of the real benefits that the right flash drive is already delivering today - despite the unfounded claims of others in the storage and server industries. And upon his request, I granted him permission to publish this as an opinion piece on Blocks and Files, which he has done under the title of Missing the flash point (a fitting play on words, IMHO).

N.B. - Normally, I would have posted this to my own blog, but part of my concern is that the misleading information is being distributed by sites like Blocks and Files. My letter was in fact originally written in a context beseeching Chris to present a more balanced perspective on the realities of flash technology. When he offered to publish my opinion outright, I figured the best way to provide balance was to use the same billboard, so to speak.

Anyway, I hope that my opinion letter helps expand the conversation about flash technology. In my opinion, there's nothing to be gained by trying to polarize this into an either-or discussion. In fact, I honestly believe that there are appropriate applications for Flash-based storage in both servers and external storage arrays. And judging by the applications I've seen flash targeted for by customers, the early adopters are going to have a pretty big competitive advantage on their competitors.

The bottom line is this - the sooner that more vendors stop quibbling over who, how or where flash is "best" and actually start bringing real flash technology to market in their respective products, the sooner (and faster) we collectively will drive up demand and drive down the costs.

And that, my friends, is the whole point...the flash point, as it were: leveraging Flash to cost-effectively bypass the inherent limitations of mechanical disk drives...




June 26, 2008

1.012: flash drives in enterprise storage

Yesterday I presented a webcast on Enterprise Flash Drives to EMC's investment community, as part of Investor Relations' ongoing Tech Talk series. If you'd like to see it, the slides and replay are available on EMC.com here: Tech Talk for Investors: Flash Drives in Enterprise Storage, but only until July 25, 2008.

Chris Mellor has also reported about this presentation over on Blocks and Files in his "EMC on enterprise flash drives" analysis piece. (Thanks for noticing, Chris - glad you were able to participate).

On a related topic, Network World's Jon Brodkin takes a look into the growing market demand for Flash technology in his article titled Flash storage gets enterprise attention as prices decline. The article provides a fairly comprehensive look at what's going on in the realm of enterprise flash across both storage and server vendors, and it is definitely worth the read.

But I have to admit I was kinda surprised by this quote that Jon included from Michael Workman, president and CEO of Pillar Data Systems:

"The best use of solid-state disk is direct-attached, not in a shared network array. The reason for that is the latencies for solid-state disk are so low that putting it on a network to get at it actually makes the latency of the solid-state disk much worse than it could be."

IMHO, that's a pretty uninformed position to take, especially by the chief executive of an external storage vendor.

Continue reading "1.012: flash drives in enterprise storage" »


June 19, 2008

1.011: administrivia

Sorry for the delay in posting - it has been a bit busier than normal for the past several weeks. But I'll be back soon, with thoughts on such subjects as the "Laurel and Hardy" battle that's brewing (starring Sir BarryW as Laurel and HHSNBN as Hardy), the realities of net usable storage for various platforms, and a few other choice topics that I won't reveal just yet.

Meanwhile, I'd like to call your attention to several new things around my blog site itself.

First, some of you have noticed the sidebar widget I added recently that displays "the anarchists interests" - a list of blog posts and news articles I've read that I thought might also be of interest to my readers. I try to update this frequently, even when I'm not able to post myself on the topic. Give it a glance once in a while - you might be surprised!

By the way, this ability to share interesting posts is a neat side-feature of using Google Reader as my feed reader. And Google Reader also available for the iPhone and iPod touch, which means I can actually follow my feeds from just about anywhere without having to wade through articles I've already read. Pretty cool!

Second, there's a bunch of new EMC employees who have ventured out into the world of public blogging recently (and a few more to come very soon). Several of these employees have agreed to be linked on the Community / Blogs page over on EMC.com, even though most of them are in fact personal blogs that are not hosted, funded or edited by EMC. I've also added many of these to the Google Custom Search widget "search blogs of many emc employees" available on the sidebar. If you're looking for the opinions or assertions of EMC employees, this is a great place to start. For you newcomers, the list of bloggers currently included in this custom search is maintained in post 0.028.

Other recent additions to my blog site include the recent visitors widget, and the visitors also liked widget, both from Feedjit. The former displays the physical location of the last 100 or so visitors to my blog superimposed on a dynamic map (click on the widget to see a detailed map), while the latter lists other posts that visitors to a particular page also viewed. Useless trivia, or interesting perspective? You be the judge!

Finally, and if you're ever looking for old posts from my blog, you might want to visit the archives and categories page. I've shortened the timeout on the archives list in my sidebar, but the complete list is always available on that page.

Enjoy, and I'll be back to my regular programming soon, I promise.


June 04, 2008

1.010: sun adds critical mass to flash

EMC: #1 Seller of Enterprise Flash Drives Please join me in welcoming the latest member of the "we too will be delivering flash technology someday soon" consortium - the farm club for the "we are ALREADY shipping enterprise flash technology" league (of which EMC is the only current member).

Not to be outflanked by IBM, nor pigeon-holed by Hitachi's slow uptake of the technology, Sun Microsystems this week jumped aboard the NAND flash bandwagon with guns a-blazin'. They say they're going to put flash everywhere - in the server, in the storage, as primary storage, as intermediate cache, using both SLC and MLC dependent upon use case - you name it, they're going to do it.

And what's more, according to Sun:

"By the Christmas holidays, anyone with an I/O performance intensive application is going to be trying to find a way to get [SSDs] into their systems."

(And to think, just last week, people were quoting Gartner and challenging both Joe Tucci and Dave Donatelli for being too optimistic at EMC World about the uptake of flash.)

OK. Clearly, we've entered the hype phase of enterprise flash storage. And it is inevitable that we live through this hype - necessary, even...every new technology has to navigate the curve, cross the trough of disillusionment, and leap across the chasm before it can reach mass adoption. And with flash storage in the enterprise space, we're just getting started, so you know that there will be plenty more exuberant hyperbole to come.

Rather than deride it, we should welcome the hype of the newcomers with open arms, because every new supporter reinforces the viability of the technology and accelerates us further down the adoption curve.

I just wish the newcomers would bring a little more specificity to the picture.

Don't you?

Continue reading "1.010: sun adds critical mass to flash" »

anarchy cannot be moderated

the storage anarchist

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I am unabashedly an employee of EMC, but the opinions expressed here are entirely my own. I am a blogger who works at EMC, not an EMC blogger. This is my blog, and not EMC's. Content published here is not read or approved in advance by EMC and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of EMC.

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