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EMC reaffirms flash storage commitment

Storage giant hints at new flash offerings to be unveiled later this year.

EMC has reaffirmed its commitment to Flash storage and talked up converged infrastructure and big data as its big bets for the future at its annual EMC Forum event in London.

"We think Flash storage is going to...and already is having a profound impact [on] the storage industry," said Jeremy Burton, executive vice president of product operations, solutions and marketing, during his keynote yesterday.

"Why is that? ... You get dramatic reductions in latencies. If you look at your average performance hard drive, you've got a couple of milliseconds in terms of latency. With a PCIe card in the server, you are down to 100 microseconds," he added.

However, while Burton lauded the much lower latencies associated with Flash storage, he also acknowledged the capital outlay for the technology is much higher.

But, he argued, Flash offered much better value for money up to 50 times more dollar per IOPs than with a standard hard drive, justifying the initial expense.

Burton revealed the company will be releasing XtremIO, an all-Flash array that initially began shipping to selected customers in March 2013, to general availability before the end of 2013.

"This really is a specialised weapon," he said. "Because of its architecture, whether this array is empty or full, whether it's idle or busy, you're going to get sustained half-millisecond response times."

EMC acquired Flash storage specialist XtremIO in May 2012 for $430 million (266 million at the time), before it had started shipping any technology to customers. It appears the acquisition caused something of a lag in the technology's release as it had been expected to start shipping before the end of last year.

A further market trend identified by Burton is converged infrastructure.

"[If] the market for converged infrastructure...is not on your radar right now, my prediction [is that] in the next few years it will be," he told delegates.

"It is expected to grow 40 per cent...over the next four years in contrast to the two per cent growth for the individual components. So again, it is a trend that is on the up and we see these cloud building blocks' - server, storage and network - becoming increasingly deployed not just in IT departments but in service providers as well," Burton said.

Big Data was another of the event's key themes, with much of the discussion focusing on its use within companies, as well as practical questions around storage and analysis.

According to a survey carried out by EMC for the conference, 75 per cent of 455 IT decision makers said their organisation could be improved with better use of data and 37 per cent agreed their senior teams trust Big Data insights to make transformative business decisions.

A further 21 per cent claimed to have achieved a competitive advantage through the use of Big Data analytics, while 44 per cent said they thought the industries using these tools will be successful in the future.

However, 48 per cent said a lack of a clear business case or proven ROI was stopping them from adopting a Big Data strategy.

At a media roundtable at the Forum, Burton said this was likely because the business teams within their organisations do not understand what Big Data is.

"Until a business really internalises [what Big Data is] and understands the impact it can have and puts some people looking at what it can do, then this thing is like a hammer looking for a nail," said Burton.

"They've heard about it and they think it sounds good, but they don't know what they can do with it."

Burton added the 21 per cent who had already claimed to have gained a competitive advantage were the early adopters but the rest would follow in the coming years or be left behind.

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