As Flash memory became more affordable, the most logical thing to do was improve the performance of existing storage systems by adding solid-state drives (SSDs) to them. But as the price of memory kept falling thanks to demand for its use in consumer electronic products such as the Apple iPhone, it became feasible to build entire storage arrays out of Flash memory.
In recognition of that trend, IBM this week moved into that emerging sector of the storage market via the acquisition of Texas Memory Systems (TMS), which developed a RamSan family of solid-state memory systems that can be deployed on shared rackmount systems and Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) cards.
According to Robert Cancilla, vice president and business line executive for IBM System Storage, IBM will not only add memory arrays to its storage lineup, it will use TMS technology across its infrastructure and software portfolio of products. For example, Cancilla says IBM will extend its suite of Tivoli data management products and services to manage data residing in memory.
With memory becoming so much less expensive, many IT organizations are starting to deploy entire databases in memory to drive up application performance. As that trend continues, the role of traditional disk-based storage systems will be recast as more applications begin to use memory arrays for primary storage. In addition to speeding up the performance of applications, that approach should also reduce the amount of energy being consumed in the data center.
What started out as a trickle down — Flash memory benefiting the enterprise brought on by the popularity of smartphones — is now starting to recast how storage is deployed in the data center. It will take a few more years for this trend to work its way through the enterprise. But before it’s all over, the role of hard disk drives in the enterprise will be utterly transformed.