It's been almost a year since IBM announced investments topping $1 billion USD in research and development in the flash storage space, and based on current trends, it appears the heads-down time to analyze, research, and complete key acquisitions is paying off. Most IT managers have long since adopted virtual infrastructure, so it only makes sense that offering the same virtualization for storage solutions is a logical evolution. Another power play for flash storage is the ability to improve the reliability and speed with which data can be accessed, a leading factor in profitability for companies managing big data information.
“The economics and performance of Flash are at a point where the technology can have a revolutionary impact on enterprises, especially for transaction-intensive applications,” said Ambuj Goyal, General Manager, Systems Storage, IBM Systems & Technology Group.
While storage expert naysayers believed that flash storage would be too expensive and irrelevant for wide spread adoption, it is now pretty clear, especially with costs dropping, that it is one of the next major innovative disruptions; it changes application design. Plus, big data, social, mobile, and cloud computing all require a competitively updated storage model that provides faster, agile, and compatible services. Flash effectively backdrops this convergence and supports the hyperscale computing trend where platform as a services (PaaS) companies enable scaling from a small set of servers to thousands.
As Dave Vellante of Wikibon.org explains, “Storage is no longer going to be a box, it’s going to be a set of services (thru software) that allow an open flow of data across the network…. the key for storage is to enable massive amounts of data to be ingested and be able to quickly analyze that data and marry unstructured, structured, transactional, analytic, etc. and enable VALUE to be built on top of the data. The storage platform that does this will be an open, low cost, platform, comprised of commodity components with a rich software layer on top that has open APIs.”
Bottom line, flash storage is no longer a featherweight market. When the Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsofts are all building their hyperscale capability from the inside, it's only a matter of time until service providers design the same models for consumerization. IBM stamped their approval, and are eating their own dog food, deploying flash storage solutions within their own architecture, but they have increasing competition as organizations investigate their investment in the technology. EMC, NetApp, and Dell, among others, are racing to the starting line to be the provider of choice.