IBM To Invest $1 Billion in Flash Technology
IBM (NYSE:IBM) has detailed a specific plan to dive headlong into flash storage technology, pledging to spend $1 billion in research and development to design, create and integrate new flash solutions into its servers, storage and middleware lineup.
Last August, IBM signaled its intention to get in on solid state technology, a rapidly expanding market that doubled in size to $5 billion worldwide in 2011, when it bought Texas Memory Systems (TMS), a privately held flash memory maker. IBM said at the time that TMS’ products eventually would find their way into its PureSystems line and become a staple of its Smarter Storage portfolio.
So it makes sense that an integral part of IBM’s flash plan is a new FlashSystem line of all-flash storage appliances based on the TMS technology. The FlashSystem portfolio, intended to provide organizations with rapid access to flash, includes the FlashSystem 820, which IBM said is a good example of the technology’s benefits owing to its pizza-box size, 20 times faster than spinning hard drive speed and ability to store up to 24TB of data.
A second part of IBM’s flash strategy is to open 12 centers of flash competency to enable clients to run proof-of-concept scenarios with real-world data to measure the projected performance gains that can be achieved with the vendor’s flash solutions. The plan is to have operational new facilities in China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Singapore, South America, U.K. and the U.S by the end of the year.
“The economics and performance of flash are at a point where the technology can have a revolutionary impact on enterprises, especially for transaction-intensive applications,” said Ambuj Goyal, IBM systems & technology group systems storage general manager. “The confluence of big data, social, mobile and cloud technologies is creating an environment in the enterprise that demands faster, more efficient, access to business insights, and flash can provide that access quickly.”
As further evidence that it’s serious about flash, IBM trotted out a deal it recently completed to install nine flash storage systems, or 150TB of additional flash storage, at Sprint’s data center. Sprint which initially was looking to improve the performance and efficiency of its phone activation application, now intends to move its most active data to all-flash storage, IBM said.
The advantages of solid state storage technology–replacing physical drives with memory chips to read and write data—aren’t new, but what’s catapulting the market forward is previously prohibitive prices have come way down and big names including EMC (NYSE:EMC), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) and NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP) have a notable presence in the market.
In addition, Dell’s (NASDAQ:DELL) interest in the solid state storage market recently became evident when the vendor joined a group of investors pouring $51.6 million in a Series B investment into Skyera, a flash array startup.
Flash’s mainstream ascendancy also promises to be channel friendly. Shortly after IBM bought TMS, the flash maker inked a distribution deal with Avnet (NYSE: AVT) for its lineup of solid-state memory solutions, including its flagship RamSan shared rackmount systems and Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) cards.