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The SNW Report: Lots Of Flash, Cache Is King

This week I kicked off my spring trade show and conference season at Storage Network World at the Santa Clara Convention Center.  It was the first time in recent memory that the show was in Silicon Valley, the center of the tech universe, and that seemed to have brought out a crowd with more end-users than in the past.  Aside from the all encompassing cloud, I heard a lot of buzz about flash memory based products, especially those using flash as cache for other storage systems.

My conference schedule has really gotten out of hand this year.  The second week in May I'll be speaking at Interop at one end of the Las Vegas strip at Mandalay Bay and covering EMCworld at the Venetian most of the way to the other end of the strip. Add in that it will be my last visit to the soon to close forever Sahara, where for years they've comped this low roller craps player, and I'll be driving up and down the strip most of the week.

Then I have PR folks begging me to go to NAB and The Tape Summit next week, Symantec Vision and Brocade Tech Day the first day in May and several other vendor worlds.  I've reached the point where I'm turning down invitations or I'd never get any time in the lab to do paying work.

In addition to its more obvious application as solid state disk, flash memory is changing the way we think about storage caches.  I remember a few years ago sitting in an Exchange optimization session at Microsoft's TechEd, another conference I had to prune from my overwhelming schedule this year, where the speaker said that cache had no impact on Exchange performance.

Of course what he meant was that upgrading the cache on your PERC or SmartArray controller from 4MB to 16MB wouldn't matter. Today with flash based caches we're not talking about a cache that's 1/100th of a percent the size of the data set behind it, but caches of 1-15%. While 4MB in front of 100GB may not have much effect on performancem 500GB in front of 50TB sure will.

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