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SanDisk InfiniFlash: Taking Vertical Integration to the Next Level

With the introduction of InfiniFlash this week, SanDisk has expanded its portfolio of flash offerings into storage subsystems. The company now provides chips, cards, software and subsystems, making it one of the most vertically integrated companies in the flash market.

InfiniFlash features multiple, tightly packed NAND flash cards in a 3U enclosure, providing a highly dense and cost effective storage platform for workloads that require both high performance and scalable, low-cost capacity. InfiniFlash is filling a void in the market, between more expensive all-flash arrays at the higher end, and 15K RPM hard disk drives at the lower end. In this space, SanDisk and its various OEM and reseller partners have an opportunity to better address the storage needs of apps such as big data, streaming media and content repositories, which require both high performance (i.e. IOPs scaling in the 100's of thousands, along with sub-millisecond latencies) and cost-effective capacity, scaling to 100's of terabytes and beyond. SanDisk InfiniFlash delivers on all of these metrics, and sets a new standard for flash affordability, offering $2 per GB without the benefit of data reduction technology, and closer to $1 per GB after de-dupe and compression (which are not packaged with the offering).

InfiniFlash achieves these breakthrough price points in part through extremely high density -- multiple times the density offered in leading all-flash arrays. SanDisk further reduces the cost of the InfiniFlash system by leaving compute and switching out of the box.

Of course, with vertical integration comes the potential downside of competing with the channel. SanDisk believes it can avoid this, both by targeting the product to a specific application area (big data and related apps), and by working with its OEM suppliers, system integrators and resellers to enable value-added solutions. Dell will offer InfiniFlash packaged with its servers, and Cisco is rumored to be planning a similar offering. We like SanDisk's API/SDK offering that accompanies the product, which should encourage partners to develop value-added capabilities for both block and object-oriented apps.

To make InfiniFlash successful, SanDisk will need to overcome some challenges. For example, this is SanDisk's first storage system offering, and so a learning curve might be expected. The company will also need to convince partners that InfiniFlash is intended as a channel-friendly offering, rather than a competitive threat. Based on what we've heard so far, we think SanDisk can overcome these challenges, and make InfiniFlash a platform to be reckoned with. InfiniFlash will be able to hit the ground running, since the platform has already been widely tested in a beta program over a number of months and initial models are now in production.

We look forward to seeing how channel partners receive InfiniFlash, and more importantly, how customers adopt the platform for specific application storage needs.

  • Premiered: 03/06/15
  • Author: Jeff Byrne
Topic(s): SanDisk Big Data Flash


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