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Reliability questions plague solid state

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But according to Michael Cornwell, Sun's manager of flash-memory technology business development, reliability--or the lack thereof--is the big myth when it comes to flash memory. "There's just a lot of bad press about how reliable flash is," he says. "We're saying that flash technology is reliable enough for the enterprise."

One way to ensure that is through flash controllers. "A lot of consumer SSD products based on flash are using controllers that are very anemic," says John Fowler, executive VP at Sun's Systems Group. "We're working with the manufacturer [of the flash drives] to make enterprise SSD controllers."

One user who likes the reliability factor of SSDs is Rich DeBrino, CIO at Advances in Technology, a healthcare VAR in Everett, WA. He recently told SearchStorage.com that "I'm 100% behind the idea of getting rid of moving parts. When's the last time your USB flash disk stopped working? Less moving parts equals less failures, period."

But no matter how reliable SSDs become, don't expect hard drives to disappear from the enterprise storage environment just yet. The benefits SSDs will bring to enterprise storage will be "less than people expect," says Andrew Reichman, senior analyst at Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA. "I wouldn't go giving back my hard drives anytime soon," he adds.

--Peter Bochner

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This was first published in August 2008

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