IBM to Invest $1B in Flash Technology R&D

By Erin Harrison April 11, 2013

To help organizations tackle the challenges around big data, IBM unveiled plans to drive Flash technology further into the enterprise, including a $1 billion investment in research and development to design, create and integrate new Flash solutions into its growing portfolio of servers, storage systems and middleware.  

Flash, a highly efficient re-writable memory, can speed the response times of information gathering in servers and storage systems from milliseconds to microseconds – orders of magnitude faster. The technology is also more reliable, durable and more energy efficient than spinning hard drives because it contains no moving parts, according to Ambuj Goyal, general manager of systems storage at IBM Systems & Technology Group.

“The economics and performance of Flash are at a point where the technology can have a revolutionary impact on enterprises, especially for transaction-intensive applications,” Goyal said in a statement. “The confluence of big data, social, mobile and cloud technologies is creating an environment in the enterprise that demands faster, more efficient access to business insights, and Flash can provide that access quickly.”  

With more organizations challenged by swelling data volumes, increasing demand for faster analytic insights, and rising data center energy costs, Flash is becoming mainstream because companies need to tap into so-called hot data – information that needs to be used in real time.

IBM officials said Flash systems can provide up to 90 percent reductions in transaction times for applications like banking, trading, and telecommunications; up to 85 percent reductions in batch-processing times in applications like enterprise resource planning and business analytics; and up to 80 percent reductions of energy consumption in data center consolidations and cloud deployments. 

As part of IBM’s investment in Flash, the company also announced plans to open 12 Centers of Competency around the world to demonstrate run proof-of-concept scenario, real data and business benefits. IBM plans to establish such centers in China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Singapore, South America, U.K., and the U.S – all to be operational by the end of 2013.

IBM also released its FlashSystem line of all-Flash storage appliances, which are based on technology acquired from Texas Memory Systems. The IBM FlashSystem was developed to give organizations instant access to the benefits of Flash. The IBM FlashSystem 820, for example, is the size of a pizza box, 20 times faster than spinning hard drives, and can store up to 24 terabytes of data – more than twice the amount of printed information stored in the U.S. Library of Congress.  

Sprint Nextel Corp., an early adopter of Flash, recently completed a deal with IBM to install nine flash storage systems in its data center, for a total of 150TB of additional Flash storage. According to Sprint officials, this latest installation is part of the company’s new strategy to move its most active data to all-Flash storage systems.


Edited by Rory J. Thompson

Executive Editor, Cloud Computing

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