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The market for SSD as cache appliances will likely continue to grow because of their ability to improve data storage performance. But three trends may eventually render SSD as cache appliances obsolete -- at least in their current form.
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Trend one: Flash storage maturity
Flash storage devices have been long regarded as expensive with relatively low storage capacities. Flash-based caching was initially introduced as a mechanism for achieving SSD-like performance for frequently accessed data, while continuing to benefit from the high capacity and comparatively low cost of traditional storage. In recent years, however, flash storage has decreased in cost and increased in capacity. Samsung, for instance, has created a near-16 TB SSD.
These factors will cause more organizations to adopt all-flash arrays. While this won't necessarily render SSD as cache appliances obsolete, manufacturers may be forced to rethink the role of cache.
Trend two: More workloads moving to the public cloud
Decreasing the number of virtual machines (VMs) running on-premises also decreases the number of random IOPS bombarding shared storage. This reduction in VMs running on-premises, along with a transition to all flash-arrays, may further reduce the need for SSD as cache appliances.
Trend three: Moving cache out of the storage array and onto the host server
Moving cache to the host server is a way to improve performance. The best example of such a vendor offering is probably Virtunet Systems and its VirtuCache product. VirtuCache seeks to improve storage throughput and reduce latency by placing the storage cache tier directly on VMware hosts as opposed to allowing the cache to reside at the shared storage level.
An in-depth examination of caching appliances
Benefits of tiering and caching in flash systems
Evolving server-side caching products aggregate flash
Dig Deeper on Solid state cache appliance implementations
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