From the company that spent $4.1 billion buying a tape company comes some cutting-edge storage news: Sun Microsystems said today that it will put solid-state Flash drives into a line of servers and other storage products, making access to stored data faster and more energy efficient. EMC made a similar announcement earlier this year.
The big vendors aren’t alone in their focus on speed. We’ve covered startups in the past whose entire existence is based on figuring out how to get to existing data faster, either through appliances or compression. With users storing more data and expecting continual access to that data, storage is no longer just about cramming as many bits and bytes in an archive as possible; it’s also about getting to them faster.
Flash, however, is a rather expensive way of solving the problem. Prices should drop as larger solid-state drives using Flash begin appearing in more consumer devices such as laptops, and the use of SSDs in the server world will only help prices fall, but it won’t be mainstream in the data center within the next year or two. Even as Flash gains ground, it will still be just one aspect of storage, for years — if not decades — to come.
While it may make sense for some companies to buy servers integrated with Flash, existing technologies will continue to flourish. Even tape is still in use today.