Future of Flash from Flash Memory Summit: Where there’s smoke, there’s fire

smoke.jpgFlash Memory Summit (FMS) 2017 just wrapped up last week in beautiful Santa Clara, California. While I have added the list of official winners from the show below, the biggest unofficial winner of the week might have been the bar in the lobby of the Santa Clara Hyatt Regency Hotel. For those of you who did not attend, a fire in one of booths closed the entire expo floor for the length of the event. No one was injured, and you can read more about it here, but the bottom line is that the combo of fire and water is not good for technology. And… attendees had to go somewhere to discuss all things flash, and the bar was as good of a place as any.


With the gossip out of the way, what’s the news?


When thinking about flash storage, the first instinct may be to focus on the present. Nearly every enterprise storage provider offers a flash-based storage offering. We should actually stop calling it flash storage, and just call it storage. Save the modifiers for the slower tiers of storage, such as disk or tape.


There are, however, two major questions looming on the future of flash storage, and Flash Memory Summit offers an excellent forum to gain some insight.


First question: What will be the extent of NVMe adoption? While it is a pretty good bet that NVMe-enabled solid state and flash technology will eventually over take existing SAS and SATA based flash technologies, the question will be, can NVMe as an interconnect extend outside the systems and into the network? I remember when Infiniband was poised to overtake Fiber Channel as the fabric of choice, and then we were all supposed to have PCI Express switches. NVMe has a better chance than those technologies, but storage fabrics are difficult to replace. If NVMe is going to realize its full potential as an interconnect, it has to actually connect to things, and the more things the better. The existing storage fabric vendors are the ones to watch. Let’s see how quickly they adopt it.


The second question will be, how fast can the industry adopt storage class memory? This has little to do with the state of the various technologies or the hardware at all for that matter. This has to do with applications. There has been a lot of dialog about how apps have to change when moving from a disk-based to a flash-based world. Let’s see what happens when storage class memory enters the picture. If the applications can’t take advantage of the massive performance increase, then the adoption will slow. If the adoption is slow, however, developers may be less inclined to rewrite their code… This balance will be something to watch.


As promised, here is the list of the official winners of the show. (The official site has them here.) It is a shame the booths were not open long enough for them to show off their achievements.


Most Innovative Flash Memory Customer Implementation

Most Innovative Flash Memory Customer Implementation addressing real-world solutions that demonstrate compelling customer value with market-differentiating benefits such as enhanced ROI, quality of service, business continuity, security, data protection and/or virtualization.
Award Winner: Brocade
Award Winner: Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Most Innovative Flash Memory Business Application

Most Innovative Flash Memory Business Application addressing a wide range of enterprise market segments such as video/broadcast, automotive, imaging, military, healthcare and/or financial.
Award Winners: Newis, Intel, Mellanox, Kazan Networks and IBM.
Award Winner: E8 Storage

Most Innovative Flash Memory Consumer Application

Most Innovative Flash Memory Consumer Application addressing solutions for devices such as smartphones, music/video players, digital cameras, gaming systems, navigational systems, tablets, netbooks, ultrabooks, mobile computing solutions and/or other consumer hardware and software products.
Award Winner: Samsung Electronics America
Award Winner: Seagate

Most Innovative Flash Memory Technology

Most Innovative Flash Memory Technology addressing innovations that will change the way flash memory is used in products to improve performance, availability, endurance and/or energy efficiencies.
Award Winner (NAND Flash): Western Digital.
Award Winners (Data Center): Toshiba and Facebook
Award Winners (Storage Network): CNEX Labs and Broadcom
Award Winners (Industry Standards): SNIA and JEDEC
Award Winner (Software Defined Storage): Excelero
Award Winner (Controller): Burlywood
Award Winner (Storage System): Attala Systems

Topics: Storage