SSD Arrival Stokes Excitement

One would think, given the media pomp and circumstance, that solid
state drives (SSDs) dropped from the sky last Monday
and EMC was the first to scoop them up and integrate the flash-based
technology into its Symmetrix DMX-4 storage systems.

In reality, EMC had been wooing the decades-old technology for a few
years before bringing its romance into the public venue. And, from all
accounts, it seems EMC is one of the best beaus SSD could have asked for
in making its enterprise debut.

“This is a big push for SSD into the business class product market,”
Charles King, principle analyst at research firm Pund-IT, told
InternetNews.com. The analyst’s exuberance is being heard from more than a few industry experts. Even SSD manufacturers such as Texas Memory Systems are
stoked.

“We’re excited. EMC’s integration is a validation of the technology.
Things have really changed,” said Woody Hutsell, executive vice president of the company. TMS has
been manufacturing SSDs since the late 1970s and began developing
flash-based SSDs just about a year ago.

“We’ve seen good growth in the last six to seven years but this last
year we’ve felt a sea change with flash becoming a more prominent
technology and being understood. Then when research firms like IDC started
covering flash on the enterprise side it really brought it to the
forefront,” Hutsell said.

IDC isn’t hiding its exuberance either. Research analyst Jeff
Yanukowicz describes the EMC move as an “exciting” event that will give SSDs a place in the enterprise. “It’s a good technology fit. While there are advantages and
disadvantages to the technology it can be a great enterprise technology
and we expect to see more moves like EMC’s,” he said.

It’s been the disadvantages, such as the high cost and
concerns related to how SSDs would work in the portable computing
environment that kept SSD in the shadows. But EMC has toiled for years to get the drives’ performance characteristics,
reliability, data integrity and availability to the point where the
company felt comfortable deploying them in its flagship storage array. The
Symmetrix software manages the drives so they will appear as “plug and
play” and “fully interoperable” to users.

The advantages, says one industry pundit, will clearly drive other big
OEM players like EMC to embrace SSD. Lower energy costs, faster response
rates and the chance to get away from mechanical parts found in hard disk
drives, are compelling factors.

“Flash drives are the wave of the future and the harbinger of things to
come with storage technologies,” said analyst Joe Clabby, president of Clabby
Analytics.

Given the competitive market landscape SSD manufacturing is predicted
to increase and the demand will drive the costs down which will then push
greater enterprise adoption.

“It wasn’t that long ago that the hard drive cost was in the two to
three thousand range,” recalls King, and, with flash costs dropping an
average of 50 percent every 12 months, SSD’s price will clearly become
less of a hurdle, adds IDC’s Janukowicz.

Last July, an IDC report predicted SSDs were ready to hit the
mainstream and that the technology’s performance and
mobility-related requirements will push SSD revenues from $373 million in
2006 to $5.4 billion by 2011.

“We expect to more and more players like EMC go this route. It’s an
exciting time,” the analyst said.

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