There has been more change in the storage market in the past five years than there was in the proceeding fifteen years, and the future looks like it is not going to slow down soon. So how does an OEM who is building a solution in their respective market deal with these changes in ways that will provide a competitive advantage while lowering or maintaining a already limited product development budget?
Changes, they are a-coming
Prior to 2005 disk storage was based on 3.5” disk drives that where mostly “enterprise grade” and performance based on the rpm of the drive was what most OEM had for choices. A few early-adopter OEMs were using with the 7,200 rpm SATA drives to achieve lower $/GB values for their solutions but the main stream market still had a need for speed.
As continuous pressure to lower cost of storage pressed on, the great debate of the viability of SATA drives become moot. When Carnegie Mellon University and Google published reports that indicated the failure rates of these lower-cost drives where no worse than the enterprise type drives more and more OEMs started shipping systems with these better $/GB drives.
Honey, I shrunk the drive
At around the same time 2.5” disk drives for enterprise use started to come out to help solve the challenges of ever increasing microprocessors and disk drives power consumptions, and cooling needs within servers. The 2.5” drives meant that OEM could get more performance in both servers and storage arrays than ever before.
In the last few years Solid State Disk (SSD) has become increasingly viable for the demands of heavy duty applications. IOPS performances are greatly improved but are more costly when compared to HDD. The cost has been coming down greatly year after year, to the point that some new storage subsystems’ designs are coming out solely with SSD.
Today there are products like Fusion IO and other recently announced PCIe SSD products demonstrating IOPS performance in the hundreds of thousands of IOPS that by-pass the storage controller and become available memory directly through the PCie bus. This is sometimes referred to as tier 0 or tier -1 storage, depending on who you speak to about storage designs among server and storage people.
These products will be going into production system in 2012 and you need to be able to determine if these products and others being announced during 2012 will impact your product offering to customers.
The virtual of virtualization
With all these changes the storage subsystem people started making products that utilize the benefits of each drive type while making it transparent to the application software by virtualizing the physical storage and adding storage software that automated various tasks of managing and optimizing all these storage choices. In the process saving both time and money for their customers by allow existing applications to run “as is” but gaining the advantages of these storage devices for the applications.
Where are you in all of this?
As an OEM it really depends on how important it is for you to control your storage. If building storage subsystem is not core to your product but your product is sensitive to how storage behaves then I propose that you leverage a trusted storage partner to build the right storage system based on all the new building blocks that have come out in recent years and more importantly the new storage technology that is coming to the market. Future storage products will demand serious considerations on system designs and implementations which can profoundly impact your solution.
Are you ready? Share your comments on the future of storage.