Leveraging its partnership with Micron Technology to bring multi-level cell (MLC) Flash technology into the enterprise, IBM this week unveiled two all-Flash arrays that are not only 50 times faster than traditional magnetic storage but also have nine times the amount of endurance of existing Flash memory technologies.
In addition, Kevin Powell, business line program director for IBM Flash Storage, says the arrays can make use of compression software to provide four times as much capacity as rival systems at a price point of about $2 per gigabyte.
The core building block of the new IBM all-Flash storage array lineup is the IBM FlashSystem 900. Rather than relying on more expensive eMLC Flash technology often associated with enterprise storage systems, Powell says IBM worked closely with Micron to develop firmware for MLC Flash storage systems to improve functions such as garbage collection on Flash memory.
The IBM FlashSystem V9000 provides organizations with a raft of higher-level storage management software to access compressions, advanced storage tiering software and storage virtualization software that are all part of the IBM software-defined storage stack of software that was announced earlier this week.
In general, Powell says that about 20 to 25 percent of data in enterprise IT environments is hot enough to warrant Flash memory performance. Because of this, Powell says that Flash and magnetic storage arrays will coexist in data centers for years to come. But the one thing that customers must realize is that Flash arrays are not only easier to manage than magnetic disk drives, they also greatly reduce the amount of space and energy consumed in the data center.
Following its acquisition of Texas Memory Systems in 2012, IBM made a major commitment to Flash memory technologies. At present, Powell says IBM has already introduced Flash storage to over 1,000 customers. As the price point for Flash storage continues to drop, chances are that number will be a lot higher before 2015 comes to a close.