Is 2013 the Year that SSDs Change The Storage Market?

By Henry Newman

As we enter 2013 we all know that the traditional disk drive vendors have entered the SSD market in full force. These are the vendors that regularly ship hundreds of PB of storage yearly to the major external storage vendors (EMC, NetApp, IBM, HDS, etc). Of course I am taking about enterprise SSDs, which support SAS interface, T10 PI/DIF and have at least an error Rate (non-recoverable, bits read) of 10E16 bits.

The storage vendors spend enormous time and money qualifying disk drives. Disk drive qualification often takes months to confirm performance, reliability and error handling. So if you were a vendor and you made a controller that, say, does 500,000 IOPS, do you need a single SSD can do 100,000+ IOPS? And likely not even if the controller does 1,000,000 IOPS.

So there are two points here:

1) Storage vendors do not want to spend time and money doing qualifications on unknown drives. I think that they rather buy drives from the two big players (Seagate and WD and maybe the third vendor Toshiba) rather than qualifying another vendor’s SSD. There needs to be a very good cost reason to do use an SSD from an SSD vendor that you are not buy disk drives from.

2) Controller vendors do not 100K IOPs SSDs. The performance of these drives overruns the performance of the controller.

As I have said for a very long time, there is going to be consolidation in the SSD market space. We have just seen the beginning over the last year of that consolidation.

It’ a given that most controllers can be saturated by even a small number of SSDs from the traditional disk drive vendors, which have notably less performance than the first crop of enterprise SSDs (you know the vendors). Maybe the traditional disk drive vendors know this and are producing SSDs per the specifications of the controller vendors. Either way the traditional disk drive vendors have a significant advantage and will continue to have that advantage.

This article was originally published on January 14, 2013