There is a battle shaping up in the enterprise storage industry. On one side are those who see flash storage as an upgrade for the disk drive, and on the other are those who see it as a cache between the CPU and the drive. It’s a fundamental difference of opinion – flash chips can be used either way, and each approach has its unique benefits and drawbacks.
The Register did a nice job of summing up the (late 2008) flash positioning of the various storage companies, and I recently posted a strategic look at this core issue. Note that some, like HP and Sun (and probably IBM), seem to have an end-to-end strategy, while others are firmly in one camp or the other. In the “not yet” column, apparently, are 3PAR, BlueArc (though they offer TMS RAM), Dell/EqualLogic, HP/LeftHand.
Update: 3PAR has joined the “disk” camp.
It’s a Cache
Fusion-IO has rocketed to the forefront of the cache side with their PCI Express flash boards for servers. Joining them in this position are the following companies:
- HP (blades and servers)
- NetApp (PAM read cache card)
- Pillar (Slammer cache)
- Sun (read and write cache)
It’s a Disk
STEC is the darling of the flash-as-a-disk world, though Intel, Marvell, and Samsung are also playing here. Joining them in the corner are the following:
- EMC (STEC flash drives shipping the DMX now and CLARiiON in the future)
- Compellent (flash drives)
- HDS (flash drives in the USP-V)
- HP (flash drives in the MSA, perhaps, and maybe that Oracle thing)
- IBM (Fusion-IO storage behind SVC and standard flash drives in the DS5000)
- LSI (flash drives in the 7900)
- NetApp (ssd drives)
- Pillar (flash drives)
- Sun (flash drives in Thumper and JBOD)
- Xiotech (flash drives in the next Emprise canisters)
- 3PAR (flash drives in InServe)
So there you have it. It’s both a disk and a cache, depending on whether you sell servers or arrays apparently. If you sell both, it’s both. Simple!
If anyone wants to correct any of this, drop me a line or comment below!