By Jim Hankins
Our view of Solid State Disks (SSDs), borne out by lab tests, is that some of the workloads that use 15K RPM drives today could take advantage of and cost-justify SSDs. Even then, not all 15K RPM drives are expected to be displaced. Rather, we expect SSD to be used as a premium performance tier in well designed, balanced storage deployments. We expect 10K and 7.2K RPM disk drives will continue to be popular in disk arrays, along with virtualization of external storage devices, as customers consolidate data storage and implement multiple tiers of storage capacity for their business needs.
While SSD offers significantly improved performance and lower energy consumption compared with HDD, SSDs also bear a huge cost premium. Today's average SSD costs many times more than the equivalent capacity and grade of HDD. While the cost difference may close, we expect it to remain significant for several years into the future. These differences means that SSDs will be relegated to applications that require extremely high performance, need relatively little capacity and can justify a very large cost premium.
The trend of decreasing HDD shipment volumes-particularly FC drives-has been underway for quite some time, but it has very little to do with the potential of SSD drives. It is largely due to the rapidly improving performance/capacity/reliability of SAS/FATA/SATA drives. In the past few years, we have witnessed SAS and SATA drives establishing their presence in tier 2 and tier 3 storage environments, then gradually moving up into the primary storage space. We expect that SAS/SATA drives will replace FC/xATA over the next few years for many of the applications that use FC drives today. We view this as a natural evolution of disk drive technology similar to what was seen in the past.
High-end HDDs will remain around for many years to come. We don't see SSD drives having major market penetration until 2012, and then less than 1/3 of the high-end HDDs shipped. SSD has been very successful with consumers, but it will take many years to be ready for the enterprise and gain adoption. Currently, we ship more than 45% of the disk drives in the market today (according to IDC) and are constantly monitor disk drive market conditions and trends. We have been investing R&D in SSD across our complete portfolio for some time now; it's not something we just recently added on our roadmaps due to competitor's movement in this space.
With all that being said, I sure would like to hear from you if you recently deployed an SSD in your disk array and whether or not it met your expectations. Or let me if know you are considering SSD in the very near future, too.
And don't hold your breath EMC, your prediction for SSD drives in 2010 will just be like "Tape is Dead" - Wrong!