"We see that flash is starting to change the business world," said Kobi Rozengarten, a managing partner at Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP). "Magnetic media formerly used for storage is starting to move toward solid-state flash, mostly because of performance and partially because of lower power and smaller form factor."
JVP, a leading Israeli venture capital firm that invests in media technology companies, manages more than $900 million in eight investment funds. EMC in May paid some $430 million for one of its technology investments, XtremIO, an Israeli maker of all-flash primary storage arrays.
Rozengarten said the next step is for flash to be used as a primary storage medium, not just in virtual tape libraries to speed backups. But that move that is happening far more slowly than many experts had anticipated.
"Flash is basically an unreliable device if it's just operated as flash. That's one reason for the slow uptake," he said, citing the need for better flash management software.
Virident's FlashMAX flash module is used at Vail Systems.
"The other reason is that large enterprise companies such as EMC, Dell, HP and others are totally committed to their own storage product structure today. This structure is optimized around HDD, and it doesn't really work well when it comes to flash," Rozengarten added.
Most major storage vendors have been offering solid-state drives or PCIe flash cards in storage arrays for at least a couple of years. Rozengarten said those products are very expensive, and do not take full advantage of the performance potential of flash technology.
Rozengarten is quick to admit that NAND flash technology will never beat the per gigabyte price of HDDs. However, when targeted at specific applications, such as virtual desktop infrastructures and online relational databases, the costs to achieve the same performance with flash compared with HDDs can be vastly lower, he added.
More and faster customer response times
David Fruin, vice president of engineering at Vail Systems, said HDDs didn't cut it when it came to his SQL database's response times to customer inquiries.
Vail Systems, a telephony service provider for banks, insurance companies and others in the Fortune 500, runs an interactive voice response system for customer care and conference calls. The system can guide callers through processes such as automated credit card activation, Fruin said.