I was reading a few trade announcements about SSDs today and had a flashback to the 1980s with the disk drive industry. For those of you not old enough to remember, there were well over 15 companies making disk drives back in those days. I am actually not sure of the number, and it changed year to year. Does that sound like the same situation we have today with SSD companies? As is said in Minnesota where I live, “ya sure betcha.”
So what is going to happen? The market is different today than it was 20 to 30 years ago. Today, most enterprise disk drive sales are done via large RAID vendors as compared to before, when disks were not sold in RAID and sold via hardware vendors, such as DEC, Compaq, HP and IBM. Where I worked, I remember we sold drives from four different disk drive vendors.
The qualification time for a drive in a controller is anywhere between three and six months, from what I have been told. RAID vendors cannot have five or even 10 drive suppliers, given the qualification time and cost. Since it is baseball season, another Yogi Berra quote might be appropriate. “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there. ”
My question is, do the large SSD vendors know where they are going in the market? The consolidation of some has started to some degree with SanDisk buying Pliant, but I do not think it will end there. Stay tuned.