With Flash storage rapidly becoming the first best option for primary storage, competition among storage vendors in this space is now nothing short of fierce. Today, IBM fired the latest salvo in the form of three offerings aimed at the midmarket that make use of Flash modules rather than traditional solid-state disk drives (SSDs).
Eric Herzog, vice president of product marketing for IBM Storage, says SSDs are a manifestation of Flash that reflects traditional approaches to storage based on magnetic disk drives. At the higher end of the market, IBM has been pioneering the adoption of Flash modules as an alternative to SSDs. Now IBM is expanding that effort in the form of a family of IBM MicroLatency offerings that include a FlashSystem A9000 series that has an effective street price of $1.50 per GB, says Herzog.
In addition, IBM is expanding its all-Flash array to include a denser IBM DS8888 offering designed specifically for data-intensive application workloads.
The FlashSystem A9000 is a modular 8u system designed to scale up to 300TB using various Flash module configurations. There is also a 42u version that delivers the modules preconfigured in a 42u rack.
At this point, Herzog says it’s now apparent that Flash storage is going to be ubiquitous. There is still room at the lower end of the market for SSDs. But over time, storage systems based on Flash modules that don’t rely on a legacy I/O architecture created for magnetic disk drives will supplant SSDs, says Herzog.
In addition, Herzog notes that the approach enables IBM to include data reduction features such as pattern removal, deduplication and real-time compression in the IBM storage systems without adding any significant performance overhead.
It may be a while before Flash modules supplant SSDs. But it’s clear that SSDs were created to provide a less disruptive approach to incorporating Flash as a cache in existing storage architectures. Now that all-Flash arrays are increasingly becoming the standard for primary storage, the time has come to adopt new storage architectures optimized specifically for what amounts to nothing less than a new medium for data storage.