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EMC World 2014: DSSD aims to close PCI flash, DRAM latency gap

LAS VEGAS -- Referring to EMC's acquisition of DSSD as "very interesting," one expert said Monday afternoon at EMC World 2014 that it's "amazing for Silicon Valley that they were able to be that stealthy."

George Crump, lead analyst at Storage Switzerland, said "there's not a lot known" about DSSD, a startup that is developing a server-side flash storage architecture for in-memory workloads such as SAP HANA.

In announcing the deal at EMC World, EMC president of products and marketing Jeremy Burton said "We're announcing an acquisition, not a product," and gave few technical details about the DSSD product because it is not expected until 2015. Crump believes there's something more.

"The basic assumption is they are working on a module, not a chip, that allows you to get better performance out of flash, better longevity out of flash and lower latency," Crump said. "That would lead me to believe -- and this is speculation because we're not dealing with a lot of information coming out of that company -- that EMC is moving more toward a memory-bus type of implementation.

"Today they were showing latency of PCIe [PCI Express] compared to an SSD in a server compared to an all-flash array on a fabric network and comparing that to [dynamic RAM]. My assumption is they'll be doing something between DRAM and PCIe to address that kind of next latency gap."

DSSD's management roster includes many former Sun employees. Sun founder Andy Bechtolsheim is DSSD chairman, and the management team is dotted with former Sun engineers. DSSD CEO Bill Moore was a Sun chief storage engineer and led its ZFS storage software development team. He was 3PAR's first employee in 1999. Moore founded DSSD in 2010, along with Jeff Bonwick, another leader of the ZFS team.

"This is a company that's been around four years, so that would lead me to believe they've got something relatively far down the pipe," Crump said. EMC became familiar with DSSD as lead investor of DSSD's Series A funding round and a development partner.

"They've had some good insight of what's going on," Crump said of EMC's involvement with DSSD. "It's very similar to what EMC has done with ScaleIO and XtremIO. This is a continuation of EMC's pattern of investing early to keep an eye on certain technologies."

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