Enterprise-class SSDs have begun to penetrate the datacenter at an increasing rate. One area that has held huge promise is the burgeoning entry-level segment and with the RealSSD P400E Micron looks to capitalize on this largely underserved market.
The P400E is a SSD geared for customers that are looking to integrate a flash solution in the most cost effective manner. Micron's goal is to address an increasing trend of enterprise customers using consumer class SSDs in enterprise applications. Unfortunately, this exposes these users to a host of issues that are the very antithesis of what enterprise class storage stands for. Data loss and corruption are the unforgivable side effects of trusting data to SSDs that aren't designed for the enterprise environment. Another penalty is unpredictable performance and reliability that comes along with utilizing consumer SSDs in environments they weren't designed for. Predictability is the gold standard of effective enterprise solutions and devices designed for average desktop users simply do not fit the bill.
The root of this problem is the prohibitive cost of enterprise class SSDs. The intoxicating speeds that they promise can be a big motivator for some to cut corners. The thought of the massive gains in productivity and performance are simply too good to pass up for many, even those on a budget.
In these cases, the users decide to get into the flash arena at bargain basement prices, buying cheap consumer drives that will wear out quickly. Even with the higher failure rates and lower life expectancy, simply by employing a "rip-and-replace" model they are able to afford flash integration at a lower price point than previously possible. The approach of buying a multitude of low cost SSDs results in multiple replacements of these SSDs as they fail and/or their write cycles are quickly exhausted.
Considering that some of the heavyweights of enterprise SLC SSDs can weigh in at $7000 for a 400GB SSD ($17.5 per GB), there is certainly an attraction to buying consumer class devices at around $1 per GB. Even with the cost of replacing lesser quality drives multiple times, the users still come out ahead in the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) game.
Micron has approached this growing market segment with the P400E. This MLC SSD is designed to accommodate the need for enterprise class features at a more palatable price point. Optimized for read-centric applications, this SSD isn't designed for the "typical' picture of the enterprise SSD workloads that many wrongly hold in their mind.
As the price of NAND falls and the technology matures, the price structure of SSDs has fallen to the point that SSDs can be a viable alternative in many of the less-thought-of applications that just were not realistic even a few short years ago.