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Flash Storage Growing Quicker than Predicted

The demand for flash storage is growing. Companies like EMC, Pure, IBM and other flash storage suppliers are seeing sales higher than they predicted. This is because a growing number of enterprises are adopting flash to speed up their websites and data processing. While it was known that flash could be used for these tasks, it wasn’t forecasted that it would boom so quickly.

The all-flash systems market reached almost $1.6 billion in 2014, two years earlier than what IDC had predicted. As a result, they upped their 2015 projections from $1.8 billion to $2.24 billion. The reason that analysts predicted a slower uptake was due to the cost of flash storage, but the cost dropped quicker than expected. On top of that, customer’s desire for the faster performance and lower upkeep costs were big factors.

According to Arun Chandrasekaran, an analysts at Gartner Inc., the main reason that customers are adopting flash is because of the performance benefits. “The second reason is ease of use and management. The products are inherently fast and easy to manage,” he said.

Flash storage allows for faster compression and easy removal of duplicate files. The system themselves are also cheaper to manage and replace over standard hard disk drives that are mechanical. Flash takes up less space in a data centre and also requires less electricity and cooling; although the initial outplay cost for the drive is higher (though that is also declining), they get cheaper in use.

“The all-flash array market did grow faster than we thought it would,” an analyst at IDC, Eric Burgener, said. “All the customers I talk to about their all-flash array deployment experiences want to move more workloads to flash.”

Flash storage has been around since 1984, first used in memory cards and other storage mediums and then later deployed in smartphones and tablets. As their capacities increased, they’ve become a popular choice for laptop and desktop users too. It’s without a doubt the future for primary storage and will eventually overtake hard disk drives, but at the moment it’s just dependant on cost.

While the market for flash is growing quicker than predicted, it’s still only a small proportion of the total $26.5 billion storage market. Competition within the market is also a hot one. IBM used to be the leader, but have since been dethroned. Companies like NetApp and HP are some of the biggest sellers, according to Gartner.

EMC’s president of products and marketing, Jeremy Burton, said that the company expect to receive $1 billion in sales from all-flash devices in 2015, which would the fastest product to ever achieve that amount of revenue in the company’s history.

EM received help to those numbers when, in 2012, they bought XtremIO, a company which was making more than $500 million in 2014 sales but not taking any revenue. Chandrasekaran notes that companies like EMC and IBM have been aggressive in getting flash storage into the market and replacing their older products – if they don’t, their competitors will.

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