One of the nice things about being a marketer is that every so often, I have an opportunity to attend industry conferences. These events afford a golden opportunity to take (an admittedly unscientific) snapshot of the market resulting from conversations with customers, vendors, and analysts.
Last week, I had such an opportunity when I attended TechTarget StorageDecisions. Given the mid-town Manhattan venue, there was a preponderance of representatives from financial institutions but also from aerospace, retail, healthcare, and insurance companies.
Flash is in the house
So what was my key takeaway? I was most impressed by the interest in all flash arrays. The lion’s share of storage practitioners at the event understood the benefits of moving to flash-based storage. They were aware that we have reached the tipping point where the benefits and performance of flash – especially for workloads that require extremely high speed and low latency – can be harvested at costs that rival those of high-end disk systems.
Beyond this, a good number of attendees were scratching under the surface to better understand available flash systems. Some booth visitors asked about the innards: is it a straightforward packaging of solid state disk (SSD) or a more powerful, versatile design based on flash chips that is serviceable and extensible. They also inquired about the type of flash technology utilized (MLC, eMLC, etc.).
The IBM booth had the FlashSystem V840 on display, and visitors exhibited a keen interest in its attractive price point and low power consumption coupled with capabilities such as mirroring, virtualization, compression, capacity (up to 1.6 PB), and of course high performance (up to 2.5 million IOPS at 200 microsecond latency).
Not a flash in the pan
I had a chance to catch up with Randy Kerns of Evaluator Group and get his take: “flash is rapidly replacing disk as primary storage…and, by 2016, the majority (>50%) of customer acquisitions for primary storage will be all flash storage systems.” By the way, Gartner, which named IBM the market leader in flash storage solid state arrays (SSA) with 25% market share, agrees that flash storage will see tremendous growth, claiming that the SSA opportunity will grow approximately five times in revenue from 2014-2017.
To sum it up, the event last week demonstrated to me that flash-based storage is past the early adopter stage; that it is moving steadily into data centers; and that customers are gaining a good understanding of its economic and performance benefits. If you are a storage professional and are not actively exploring flash now, your plane is about to depart; your competitor is probably in the sleeve or on board, and you should be too.