If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will.
You can’t go a day on the Internet without seeing several ads, LinkedIn postings, or other promotions for one of the flash storage companies. Sort of reminds me of AOL back in the 90’s, when floppy discs of the AOL software were so ubiquitous you could tile your roof with them. Why are they always in our faces like so many crazed carnival barkers, urging us to come see the IT equivalent of the bearded lady? OK, you love your product. We get it.
And then I realized that, just like AOL, they recognize a sea change when it’s right in front of them.
Maybe an analogy would be appropriate here. In the world of music we have gone from records to tapes to CDs and now, virtual. The progression followed a logical course. People want to take their music with them, and record players were anything but portable. Tapes were portable but sounded bad and were easily damaged. CD’s retained portability and sounded better than tape, but these days you can carry a room full of CD’s on a single flash drive you can buy for cheap at the local electronics store. Musical nirvana. How you improve on that I couldn’t say (maybe the iWatch will have the answer).
There is a similar change happening in IT, and there can be little doubt that flash is the future of storage. The gains are obvious; increased speed, with power and space savings to boot (pardon the pun). I don’t know a single client who couldn’t benefit from more space and less power usage in their data center. Maybe you get to eliminate tiering altogether and just run everything on the fast stuff.
But traditional storage vendors have been slow to bring out cost-effective flash solutions, just as record companies were slow to embrace any replacement for the CD. Sure, you can get flash as a high-tier option on their arrays, but what about taking a couple racks of spinning discs and reducing that down to half a rack of solid state? HP has only recently brought out all-flash arrays in their 3Par line. EMC bought XtremIO but don’t seem to be pushing it very hard. Both of them are losing business to companies like Pure and Nimble who have formed their entire business model on the benefits of flash. The big boys will either adapt to the change or lose market share as customers continue to realize that the TCO for spinning discs doesn’t add up anymore. As Steve Jobs was famous for saying, either cannibalize your business or someone else will.
Whatever the 800-pound gorillas do, magnetism as a means of storing data is as doomed as it was for storing music. Good riddance in both cases.