Dell executives at the firm's Dell Storage Forum on Wednesday hinted how solid state drive (SSD) technology could rewrite the rules of enterprise storage, indicating the possible direction future products might take.
Darren Thomas, vice president and general manager for global storage at Dell, said that Flash storage "opens up a whole new realm of possibilities", and described it as the "most exciting technology" that Dell has under development.
While Flash SSDs offer much faster performance than conventional hard drives, they are also much costlier, typically restricting their use to applications where performance is critical.
Enterprise-grade SSDs have been finding their way into datacentres for a while as the top end of the storage hierarchy, either replacing 15,000rpm hard drives at the Tier 1 level, or being used to create hybrid drives with built-in Flash to cache the data.
Now, some vendors are starting to experiment with Flash storage connected to servers through the PCI Express bus, rather than a storage interface such as Sata or Serial-attached SCSI (SaS).
Dell describes this as "Tier 0 or even Tier -1" storage, and said it could potentially deliver a huge boost to the most demanding applications, such as holding transaction logs for a database.
However, the company still sees a place for conventional hard drives lower down in the hierarchy.
"Sata will be around for a long time in my opinion, as people will continue to need low-cost disk drives," said Brett Roscoe, executive director of Dell's PowerVault and Data Management division.
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