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IDC: SSDs Reshaping Enterprise Storage

After significant growth in the solid state storage market in 2011 that brought the total value of shipments to $5 billion, research firm IDC is expecting continued big growth through 2015. Within the enterprise market, there is increasing use of solid state discs (SSDs), a trend the research company expects to continue as prices fall and performance increases.

Year-over-year growth of the SSD market from 2010 to 2011 represented a 105% increase from the $2.4 billion market of 2010. According to Jeff Janukowicz, research director for solid state storage and hard disk drive components at IDC, 2011 was a record year for the worldwide SSD market that will be surpassed in 2012. IDC expects SSD revenue to more than double year-over-year because of strong shipment growth in the enterprise and client segments.

"We are seeing increased use of SSDs across the enterprise. A number of environments from tiered solutions, virtualized, databases and the cloud can all benefit from the use of SSDs," Janukowicz said.

The bumper year for SSDs in the enterprise is being assisted by the recent flooding in Thailand and the massive disruption of HDD manufacturers, says Jim Bagley, senior analyst and business development consultant, Storage Strategies Now."First, the shortage of hard drives due to the disaster in Thailand is going to be a huge factor that flies in close formation with a predicted glut in flash memories, particularly at high capacities in 34, 25 and 20 nanometer lithography. Depending on how long the shortages in the HDD business last--the most optimistic forecasts say that production will be back to the levels of last summer by next summer--and if a flash glut materializes, there could be a boom for SSD manufacturers who can compete at a closer cost per gigabyte or even lower cost per gigabyte in high-performance HDDs."

IDC is expecting SSD shipments to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 51.5% from 2010 to 2015. The rapid growth rate of the SSD segment is happening in the enterprise in part because of dropping price points, but Janukowicz also notes that the technology of solid state drives is improving. Vendors have made great strides in lowering price points while also improving reliability and boosting performance compared with first-generation SSD products that were introduced a few years ago, he says.

This year will see more solid state usage, not just volumes, but it will be used in more places by more users for more applications, says Mark Peters, senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group. "The overall [modus operandi] for solid state will turn from an app-specific fix to a more general turbo-boost across the storage infrastructure. Solid state will become more normal, whether as standard component in storage systems or as the key component in new storage systems, whether all-flash or hybrid."

Pricing is key to the continued growth of the SSD market in the enterprise market segment. At one time a type of storage that was out of the budget of businesses of all sizes, SSD price points have been dropping considerably as the market matures. IDC expects the overall price per gigabyte to fall below $1 in the second half of 2012, which Janukowicz says should help to drive even more adoption of the technology.

Additionally, the increasing use of flash storage in enterprise products, as well as the explosive growth of mobile client devices (many of which have found their way into the enterprise), combined with lower price points is creating a perfect storm for SSD vendors, Janukowicz says.

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