SNIA to push enterprise use of solid-state storage

Initiative aims to educate users, foster adoption of standards

As faster and less expensive solid-state storage systems are developed and built, the data storage industry needs to educate enterprise IT about the technology's benefits and develop a strong market for solid-state storage products.

That's the idea behind a new Solid State Storage Initiative unveiled yesterday by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), a trade group whose membership encompasses 400 companies and 7,000 people in the storage industry.

The goals are to educate IT users about the technology, to foster the creation and adoption of standards for solid-state storage, and to work with related groups to spread the development and use of the fast-moving technology.

"Solid-state is coming," said Phil Mills, secretary of the SNIA board of directors. "Solid-state is going to change the landscape of storage, because of the performance of solid-state compared to the disk drives that we are used to using."

The platter-based hard drive technology that's used today is always a performance compromise, he said, because the reading and writing of data is much slower than the fastest processors available, creating a built-in lag time that business users have had to accept.

"We accept the delays in storage today" because of that mismatch, Mills said. "That is something, basically, that we've been doing for 40 to 50 years. We're going to be able to stop doing that. Once you get your storage as fast as your main processor, you won't have to wait like we do today. It's a performance boon that you've just got to pay attention to."

Solid-state drives (SSD) are gaining popularity because they are faster and more reliable than other storage offerings, and because they have no moving parts and consume less power than traditional platter-based hard drives. One drawback, however, is that they are usually more expensive than traditional hard drives.

The idea for the initiative was born earlier this year when a group of SNIA member vendors discussed whether such an effort was needed to promote the benefits of the new generation of solid-state storage technologies, Mills said.

Some 29 member companies have joined the initiative, including Adtron, BitMicro Networks, Dell, EMC, Emulex, Fusion-io, Fujitsu Computer Systems, Hitachi Data Systems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, LSI, Marvell Technology Group, Microsoft, NetApp, QLogic, SanDisk, Seagate Technology, Sun Microsystems and Texas Memory Systems.

The idea, Mills said, is to give solid-state storage technologies a bigger voice in the marketplace and the industry. All of the member companies are developing products in the solid-state marketplace, but they might not have put those products on the market yet, he said.

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