Interesting companies at this year’s Flash Memory Summit, but the winner of the StorageMojo BuzzGen award is Skyera. That there’s little detail on their system may have helped: attendees get to fantasize about the putative magic under the covers.

Founded by PhD SandForce alumni with no VC funding – but with investments by a large storage vendor and a large flash vendor – this team has an impressive track record and hundreds of patents. But the lack of detail is troubling: how much is real and how much is planned?

44TB in 1U
The claims are impressive:

  • Up to 44TB in a 1U half-depth, 750 watt box
  • Up to 1 million IOPS or 3.6GB/sec
  • Built-in network switch: 40 x 1GbE & 3 x 10 GbE
  • Software including in-line Compression/De-dup, AES Encryptio to protect data at rest, Snapshots, Writeable clones, Configurable QoS levels, Consistency groups, Thin provisioning, Dynamic re-sizing & more.
  • Flash Controller: “Proprietary algorithms dynamically tune the partitions during the lifetime of the flash minimizing damage to the flash oxide layer typically experienced during write cycles”
  • $3/GB raw; 99¢/GB with dedup & compression turned on

This all translates to the economic bottom-line:

. . . an all-Flash enterprise solid-state storage system that delivers next-generation performance and density through solid-state technology at a price point equivalent to spinning disk. For the first time, enterprise customers will be able to utilize solid-state technology as a direct replacement for traditional hard disk drives. . . .

[bolding added]

Where have we heard that before?

The StorageMojo take
At a private briefing off the show floor, Skyera’s CEO and CTO wouldn’t go into any detail about the how, focusing on the what. They wouldn’t even open up the pizza box labeled “44TB” for inspection, pleading foreign patent filing issues.


From the comments they did make, it appears the secret sauce includes a variable-block size flash translation layer and a wear-aware ECC function that increases ECC power as flash ages. And much more, no doubt.

Skyera’s rapid emergence is one more sign of the vibrancy of the storage market. The paucity of supporting information about their box underlines the difficulty customers have in evaluating competing claims.

But the larger trend is clear: enterprise flash array vendors are targeting the cost advantage of disk arrays. And one of these days they will catch up. Then the sea change from disk to flash arrays will start in earnest.

Courteous comments welcome, of course.