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Suppliers Hammer Away At Enterprise Price Resistance To Solid State Disk

Two major issues have slowed down enterprise adoption of solid state disk: the first is concern about media endurance because the number of SSD writes are limited and the second is cost.

SSD suppliers have successfully responded to the write endurance issue with the  development and incorporation of wear-leveling algorithms that now spread writes throughout the entire cell structure of SSD. SSD life can be extended to the five-year longevity period that corporate IT asset cycles demand. Reducing the cost of SSD has been a longer struggle, which began with arguments that if an enterprise were to plug in SSD performance advantages over traditional hard drives by using complicated TCO (total cost of ownership) formulas that combine in-the-door purchase prices with the number of I/Os per second, the reduction in data center storage footprints and the total capacity of storage actually utilized--that somehow, SSD would come out on top with a lower cost per gigabyte.

The reality, though, is that many enterprises and nearly all small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) are tightly tethered to budgetary planning that heavily relies on TCA (total cost of acquisition) and not TCO. The reason is simple: once IT gets past the TCA hurdle with  upper management,  it is easier to bury follow-on TCO costs like electricity, floor space and even maintenance in the kinds of "fixed" operation charges that even CFOs assume are non-discretionary--and a cost  of keeping  the doors to the business open.

And so it comes as no surprise that more SSD suppliers are dropping TCO arguments in exchange for competing on SSD costs upfront with hard drives to convince enterprise and SMB CIOs that it is time to bring in solid state drive technology.

To do this, SSD suppliers are finding ways to commoditize and deliver enterprise-class performance through the incorporation of MLC (multi-level cell) SSD technology, which is much cheaper than its SLC (single-level cell) counterpart, which remains expensive to manufacture. A case in point is Intel (, which announced on July 21 that it was introducing new X-25M and X-18M SATA solid state drives for notebook and desktop PCs--at a fraction of the cost of its previous generation SSD products for these devices. SATA SSDs have all of the  SSD advantages (quieter, no moving parts, reduced power consumption) over  their hard drive counterparts--but this time they utilize low-cost MLC NAND technology with price point reductions of 60 percent over  previous Intel SSD offerings for the same devices.

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