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Flash Memory Summit 2012: Storage Moves to the Center Square

The Flash Memory Summit is always an exciting show. Attendees go to learn about trends in the flash memory space, hear about great new product launches and discuss predictions for the future.  Toshiba’s presence was no exception. We had multiple conversations about what the company is focusing on and announced our PX series enterprise solid state drives (eSSD), which broadens our enterprise portfolio to provide customers with just about every product they could ask for.

Storage is at the center of recent media and industry discussions, and it’s an integral part of the computing ecosystem that companies can’t afford to ignore. The next generation of enterprise and personal storage technology will only continue to gain importance as more and more data is produced. This year’s Flash Memory Summit (FMS) reflected that fact as an unprecedented number of business and tech press were in attendance, and FMS 2013 promises to be even larger. 

Three trends have aligned to turn the media and industry spotlight onto the storage industry:

  1. Big Data–Data continues to grow exponentially, and businesses are looking for technology that enhances their ability to store, retrieve and archive it. Achieving this reality requires a steadfast commitment to invest in areas such as security, scalability, delivery and storage, to name a few.  

    The “Handling Big Data” track was well attended with sessions about “Automatic Storage Tiering in the Age of Big Data” from Cache IQ and LSI’s “The Role of Intelligent Flash Solutions in the Data Deluge” catching our eye. Trends at the Big Data sessions included managing your software to move seamlessly between tiers and creating a tier 0 environment where one’s most accessed data can reside. However the data deluge is managed, the storage solution needs to be dynamic and flexible. IDC predicts that by 2020, there will be 4.6TB per person—the demand for personal storage is exploding, but the storage industry can close the gap using flash solutions in a well thought out way.
  2. Storage industry innovation—There has been a significant amount of growth in available storage solutions. To the list of popular options we can add solid state drives (SSD), hybrids, next-generation spinning media solutions like heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), and tiered storage to accommodate cloud-driven business computing architectures. 

    Fox example, Nexsan’s “SSD Technologies for Hybrid Storage” showed attendees four ways to take advantage of solid state in storage systems. As the happy medium between cost-effective, large capacity hard disk drives and high performing solid state drives, hybrid storage is the ideal solution to reduce latency, increase inputs outputs per second (IOPS) and achieve consistent performance. Nexsan’s implementation of different tiers of SSD types named FASTierTM will be an interesting technology to watch as it evolves and grows.
  3. Proliferation of hardware platforms—The emergence of tablet computing, continued growth in smart phones, and new PC form factors such as Surface and ultra-books have brought hybrid, small form factor 7mm, and solid state drives to the forefront. Consumers want slim, compact devices with fast, thin storage solutions.

    During the Embedded Applications and Systems Track, Innodisk’s discussion about its small form factor SSD showed that vendors are experimenting with many different products in various sizes, capacities, and interfaces to meet the needs of slimline and small form factor applications. New storage products will continue to come to market to keep up with the changing needs of the industry.   

You’ll notice that a common thread woven throughout these trends and the show was hybrid drives and ways to deploy the technology. If you weren’t able to make it to the show, TweakTown and The SSD Review have posts about our hybrid technology demo to give you a snapshot of our booth and where our focus lies at the moment. Just like the early days of the hard disk drive (HDD) market, where hundreds of hardware vendors fought over market share, there are already numerous SSD vendors in the market—inevitably it will consolidate and possibly combine over time due to technology developments such as hybrid. 

The key point remains: no one size—or technology—fits all storage needs. The emergence of SSDs and the potential of hybrids means that there are simply more choices for storage solutions—and each solution has a set of applications that best suit it.  Our new PX series services three different levels of enterprise needs: boot, read-intensive, entry level servers, entry-to-mid-range application servers, and high-performance enterprise application servers. Similarly, the HDD market is not going away any time soon.  HDDs service different applications with capacities and speeds based on the specific needs of customers.

It’s an exciting time to be in the storage industry because storage is a key element in business and personal computing technology. Manufacturers who can provide the broadest set of solutions across all these opportunities, and deliver at a global scale, will be the ones that continue to lead the storage industry under this new spotlight.


The views expressed on this post are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of TAEC or Toshiba.



The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc.

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