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Dell EMC World 2017: Viewing storage from all angles

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DSSD D5 flash appliance sales cease, Dell EMC says

The DSSD D5 for PowerEdge servers from Dell EMC was the first product from the merged vendors. DSSD instead will be used to accelerate existing and new all-flash systems.

Well, EMC promised blazing speeds for its DSSD flash appliance. And, now, it's been pulled off the market almost before you could say, "DSSD D5 Rack-Scale Flash appliance."

Dell EMC has stopped selling its stand-alone server-based DSSD D5 Rack-Scale Flash appliance, barely a year after it launched. How's that for fast? Even EMC's ill-fated Invista storage virtualization switch lasted longer than that.

After forecasting "face-melting" speeds in the run-up to launch, Dell EMC quietly pulled the plug on DSSD last week. It said all instances of the Dell EMC DSSD D5 system are off the board, including a hardware model unveiled in September built on Dell PowerEdge R730 servers. That rollout marked the first new product following the Dell-EMC merger.

Dell EMC intends to incorporate DSSD technology into other storage servers and flash arrays, and the vendor will use it to help bring NVMe products to market. The vendor said it will continue to support existing DSSD D5 customers, but is not adding new sales.

Dell EMC: DSSD customers wanted data services, not just fast flash

EMC in 2014 acquired the server-side flash technology from startup chipmaker DSSD. EMC spent nearly two years turning the technology into a shipping product, but found little market for the 5U rack-scale shared flash storage system after its 2016 launch. In the fourth quarter, DSSD flash contributed a meager $1.9 million to Dell EMC's market-leading $645 million in all-flash revenue.

The Dell EMC DSSD product was aimed primarily at enterprises running real-time database applications and high-performance computing (HPC) clusters. That turned out to be a smaller niche than anticipated. Lack of integrated data services hindered customer adoption, said Sam Grocott, a Dell EMC senior vice president of marketing for storage and data protection.

He said HPC customers are embracing flash in servers for shared storage, while enterprise customers want more than fast storage.

The early adopters told us the performance was off the charts. But they wanted DSSD integrated on a VMAX, an XtremIO array or a server.
Sam Grocottsenior vice president of marketing for storage and data protection, Dell EMC

"The early adopters told us the performance was off the charts. But they wanted DSSD integrated on a VMAX, an XtremIO array or a server," Grocott said. "Folding it into existing products gives us an opportunity to turbocharge our entire all-flash portfolio."

The Dell EMC DSSD D5 direct-attached storage uses proprietary NVMe over PCIe flash modules to connect multiple servers. Cubic RAID provides intelligent data protection across large shared storage environments.

The native DSSD features are transferable to other Dell EMC flash storage, Grocott said. That will help Dell EMC more quickly bring its first NVMe-based flash system to market this year.

Dell EMC is discontinuing DSSD sales, as other storage vendors launch systems that replace solid-state drives with custom flash modules. Hitachi Data Systems designed its Virtual Storage Platform F array with its custom flash module drives. All-flash vendor Pure Storage Inc. added system-on-a-chip FlashBlade for performance-oriented big data analytics. IBM DeepFlash and Western Digital's SanDisk IntelliFlash reference architecture are other examples.

Greg Schulz, a senior advisory analyst at StorageIO in Stillwater, Minn., said integrated Dell EMC DSSD technology provides more value than selling it as another flash system.

"Dell EMC has plenty of storage systems, so why rush to make yet another storage system as opposed to articulating where and how DSSD can complement what it already has?" Schulz said.

Next Steps

Taking stock of all-flash storage

Dell EMC plans to 'stay the course,' despite flash overlap

SSD adoption rises, thanks to server-side flash

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Dell EMC World 2017: Viewing storage from all angles

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