What’s the Next Big Thing for Flash?

A few years ago, flash technology emerged as a hot topic in the IT industry, with analysts, pundits, and vendors agreeing that it would be the next game-changer in IT, changing not only the enterprise storage landscape but the data center as a whole. As I look at EMC’s 2013 product roadmap, the abundance of flash deployed in our customers’ environments, and the increasingly competitive landscape, I realize that flash is no longer a future game-changer.  In fact, flash has changed the game.  Flash has become ubiquitous, with enterprises implementing it throughout their infrastructures in the storage, server, and network.  Flash is now the universal norm, deployed in nearly all enterprise environments for drastic performance improvement.

In 2013, I believe the industry will move beyond promoting the benefits of flash technology and shift to exploring the new opportunities and use cases that flash opens up for enterprises.  Flash will become the key enabler for data center consolidation and application performance initiatives, consequently facilitating larger IT initiatives such as virtualization and cloud computing.  This will allow companies of all sizes to combine innovative software with flash hardware to exploit maximum efficiency, performance, and cost-effectiveness in all types of environments—from the world’s largest and most demanding enterprises to the most demanding social sites.  In 2013, we will see customers realize the power of flash, marrying it with other technology resources and strategies to deliver compute and storage power, turbo-charging IT assets for top-shelf performance.

Without question, the industry will continue to ride this flash tidal wave, with ongoing innovation in flash-based systems and flash-aware software.  But as some of us know all too well, the high-tech industry is both blessed and cursed with the recurring advent of the “next big thing.”

So what is the “next big thing” for flash?  Flash will continue to evolve and transform the industry with innovations such as lithography shrinks and next-generation 3D technologies.  And the industry will begin to turn its eyes to the next wave of potential technology investments—one being Phase-Change Memory (PCM).  A type of non-volatile random-access memory, PCM could begin to augment existing offerings by delivering an alternative storage option with even lower latencies than flash and speeds approaching that of DRAM.

About the Author: Zahid Hussain