SSDs are faster and more reliable than hard drives, but adoption has been slowed by high prices. Businesses gradually have been finding it easier to clear this once-imposing hurdle, however. Just this week, flash vendors Skyera, Tegile Systems, and SanDisk unveiled aggressively priced new products that should make SSDs more accessible for a number of enterprise uses.
Market research firm IDC estimates that enterprise systems will acquire almost three exabytes--the equivalent of 1 billion gigabytes--of SSD-based storage annually, according to the statement that announced the deal.
IBM will continue to support existing TMS products, which include both rack-mounted storage options as well as flash-equipped PCIe cards. It also will integrate TMS technologies into several of its own product lines, most notably the PureSystems family of prepackaged hardware tools. With all-flash architectures, PureSystems could experience meaningful upticks in speed, efficiency, and dependability.
[ There are many changes taking place in storage technology. Read Storage Goes Scaled Out, Solid State, And Cloud-Enabled. ]
The move also gives IBM direct control over an important component, spelling potential concern for other vendors, such as Fusion-io, from which the tech giant currently procures parts. The possibility of a vendor shakeup, though, has elicited contrasting opinions.
Mark Moskowitz of J.P. Morgan told Barrons that his firm's research indicates all-flash arrays will increase in popularity over the next 12 to 18 months. He also said he sees no immediate reason for Fusion-io to fall out of IBM's circle of partners.
Gary Mobley of The Benchmark Company, also speaking to Barrons, foresaw that Fusion-io would suffer only a "minor setback" if IBM opts to use TSM's PCIe cards in its servers. He thinks it more likely that IBM's purchase will compel an IBM competitor--namely Hewlett-Packard--to snap up Fusion-io. InformationWeek's Josh Greenbaum opined this week that HP has enjoyed some success in software but otherwise lacks a clear vision after Meg Whitman's first year as CEO. Fusion-io could be of use in its restructuring efforts, but "could" must remain the operative word until the ailing Palo Alto-based company more clearly shows its hand.
InformationWeek's Art Wittman recently explored how companies such as Nicira and EMC have had success with software-centric approaches that are basically indifferent to the kind of hardware on which the program is run. Where this ultimately will leave all-in-one hardware-software combinations such as IBM's--SSDs or not--remains to be seen.
New innovative products may be a better fit for today's enterprise storage than monolithic systems. Also in the new, all-digital Storage Innovation issue of InformationWeek: Compliance in the cloud era. (Free with registration.)