Storage — it’s the unsexy work horse behind social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter that require hundreds of thousands of servers to handle the data of millions of users. Traditionally taking the form of spinning disks, data storage also sucks a whole lot of power. But companies, like Fusion-io, are innovating on more energy efficient forms of solid state storage technology (no moving parts), helping web companies drop their monthly energy bills and cut their carbon footprints. This morning Fusion-io said that MySpace has been using its Flash-based storage tech and managed to cut its energy consumption significantly.
Fusion-io, which has raised a total of $66.5 million to build its products, sells a module stuffed with hundreds of Flash drives on a PCI Express card. The card has the storage capacity of 80-320 gigabytes and plugs into a standard server. The company says the costs to power and cool the modules “are less than one percent” of the costs to power and cool hard disk drives, and because the modules are snapped into the server, the architecture takes up a lot less space than traditional hard drives.
Compared to hard drives, Flash has traditionally been much more expensive per gigabyte. But as data centers continue to use more power, and the energy bills of web companies continue to rise, companies are looking at the long term and overall costs of the systems and incorporating energy consumption into the final price equation. MySpace told the Cleantech Group that it invested hundreds of thousands to buy Fusion-io’s storage tech, but that it has been saving around $120,000 per year.
Flash solid state drives will also increasingly be adopted as the price of the technology has been dropping faster than discs. The price of solid state drives has been dropping at 50 percent every year, while the price of disks has been dropping between 25 and 30 percent per year points out Juergen Urbanski, in this GigaOM Pro report on Bringing Moore’s Law to the Data Center Market (subscription required).
Fusion-io, which officially launched more than three years ago, is backed by venture capitalists Lightspeed Venture, New Enterprise Associates, Dell Ventures and Sumitomo Ventures. Despite Dell being an investor in the company, Fusion-io hasn’t announced a customer relationship with the world’s third-largest server maker, but says the two companies have a “working relationship.” The company says it’s been seeing 80 percent quarterly growth and now has more than 800 customers.
Because of the company’s small size it will still need to ramp up to compete with storage giants EMC (s EMC), and NetApp (s NTAP). As Tom Trainer notes in this GigaOM Pro report The Future of Data Center Storage (subscription required), in 2008 EMC introduced Flash drives to its product line and has been an early leader in this solid state storage space.