OCZ Storage Solutions: Redefining the Storage Era

Ralph Schmitt, CEO
The storage industry, which is often not regarded as a place for management experimentations, is all about legacy systems and unapologetically traditional methods. Here, innovations and success seemingly do not go hand-in-hand— although we would argue that it should. Yet, one CEO, Ralph Schmitt, has remolded the industry rules—and in the process, he has built OCZ Storage Solutions into one of the most innovative firms in the industry. For Schmitt, it was his habit of taking strategic risks that turned into a big payoff—a talent inherited from his passion to fly aircrafts.

While flying, the capability to rapidly integrate new information, evaluate the risks, and adapt to changing conditions plays a significant role in managing or calculating the growth improvement for that competitive edge —“a key skill that came handy while envisioning the future of OCZ Storage Solutions,” says Schmitt. “The flying stints have served a wide range of rhetorical lessons in both my personal and business life,” he adds. At OCZ Storage Solutions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toshiba Corporation, Schmitt and his team specializes in solving unique storage challenges by accelerating application performance, optimizing IT infrastructures, and enhancing overall reliability and manageability. The company’s products are targeted at the computer hardware market with special focus on solid-state drive (SSD) solutions using SATA III, and PCI Express, for both consumer and enterprise applications.

Offering a Spectrum of Solid-state Drives

With the dawn of a new age of digital storage interfaces, the legacy storage systems are used in innovative ways leading to novel classes of client and enterprise storage capabilities. Along with the technological modernization come fresh sets of challenges—Schmitt highlights the issue of fulfilling the storage performance needs as the key issues faced by CIOs today. As a part of this, the traditional hard drive based storage environments in data centers are turning to SSD environments. “This paradigm shift is happening quite rapidly and is impacting all aspects of the market,” informs Schmitt. OCZ Storage Solutions trounces the issues with high-speed storage solutions that can provide massive increases in performance over legacy storage systems.

Headquartered in San Jose, California with offices around the globe, OCZ drives its expertise to create deployment strategies that address storage issues and provide rapid ROI. Schmitt believes that his team has built a robust product portfolio over time, primarily focused on PCIe, and SATA, supporting both enterprise and client markets. “We offer solid-state storage products that enable customers to tackle storage challenges head-on while also delivering intelligent and optimized approaches to how data is captured, stored, accessed, analyzed and leveraged in today’s data-driven era,” explains Schmitt. OCZ’s SSD solutions range from database and IT applications to virtualization and cloud computing. “Our solutions address challenging productivity bottlenecks and turn IT assets into fully-realized resources. We deliver unparalleled enterprise application acceleration, lower total cost of ownership, and higher return on investment,” adds Schmitt.

A New Age of Enterprise SSDs

With the emergence of cloud computing, big data, virtualization and mobility, the data storage sector is going through a metamorphosis of its own. As a result, SSDs based on NAND flash memory chips, have emerged as the cardinal of storage interfaces, thus diminishing the hard drive market. “We lead this transformation from hard drives to SSDs by offering application specific solutions,” says Schmitt. OCZ’s flash-based storage and software solutions offer increased performance and responsiveness for a wide range of usage models and workloads, from virtualization to large-scale data centers to cloud computing. “For example, our ZD-XL PCIe solid state solution, which is an integration of hardware and software, can enhance performance of a SQL Server database environment,” claims Schmitt.

Striving to eliminate storage inefficiencies, OCZ’s SSDs take storage technology to the next level. “We believe in amalgamating two basic factors in our solutions—cost and performance. In other words, to meet the performance requirements in a cost-effective way and enhance the total computing experience,” states Schmitt. The company’s broad portfolio of SSD solutions includes several interfaces and enterprise feature-sets that enable unprecedented flexibility and efficiency for high throughput systems. Each solution is designed and built with the highest level of quality and reliability that enterprises and OEMs can count on for business-critical applications.

He also brings in an interesting example that reflects OCZ’s expertise: 888.com, one of the world’s most popular online gaming providers was facing problems with their traditional data center and network with several I/O bottlenecks.
He also brings in an interesting example that reflects OCZ’s expertise: 888.com, one of the world’s most popular online gaming providers was facing problems with their traditional data center and network with several I/O bottlenecks. Since multiple players access the resources at the same time, the key challenge was to reduce database I/O pressure on the SAN and improve the SQL server database performance. “We simplified their storage system using our PCIe-based ZD-XL SQL Accelerator,” recalls Schmitt. OCZ also reduced the I/O load on the SAN by 50 percent thus alleviating the workload pressure and enhancing the efficiency of application data. “We limited the problems and improved the SQL Server data throughput by 150 percent,” adds Schmitt.

Hyperscale Applications Reloaded

With the increase of enterprise applications, SSDs have become an essential technology to ensure predictable delivery of Read I/O to the application layer. Failing to match such capabilities leads to increased workload and reduced performance. One of OCZ’s flagship storage solutions, the Saber 1000 Series, is a new class of enterprise SATA SSDs designed for read-intensive applications targeting high-volume deployment hyperscale, web-hosting and distributed computing environments. The SATA-based Saber 1000 Series is designed to solve demanding key customer business challenges. It utilizes OCZ’s internally developed Barefoot 3 controller and firmware which delivers consistent sustained I/O performance across all capacities to accelerate enterprise applications.

“We believe that the future lies in PCIe, and our innovation lab is currently focusing on that”

Lastly, OCZ’s virtualization access technology acts as a catalyst to enhance storage performance in conjunction with its enterprise Z-Drive PCIe SSD, which in turn, maximizes performance of virtualized server environments. “For example, the Supreme Court of Italy improved its database performance and I/O access to court proceedings using our PCIe-based virtualized solution,” states Schmitt. The technology also enables intelligent and efficient on-demand distribution of flash between Virtual Machines (VMs) based on need regardless of how many VMs are running concurrently.

Adapting the Changing Needs

Schmitt often regards OCZ as the one-stop-solution for the demanding storage needs. “We control all the aspects of the technology, our flexibility to customize the solutions according to the client’s needs in multiple places on the value chain gives us a leading edge in this competitive market,” affirms Schmitt. Moreover, its parent company Toshiba’s leadership in NAND flash memory segment gives OCZ the access to next-gen solutions.

We believe in amalgamating two basic factors in our solutions — cost and performance

The primary vision with which OCZ moves forth is by turning into the largest supplier of solid-state storage solutions in the market place. “Toshiba has plans to invest millions of dollars to expand and enhance its NAND Flash technology, and in the next five years we see a huge demand for flash-based storage solutions,” says Schmitt, who is also taking all the right measures and risks to achieve the company’s vision of focusing on the fastest-growth and highest-margin portion of the markets it serves.

Schmitt also foresees a huge opportunity for PCIe solid state drives in the coming years. “Our innovation lab is aggressively focusing on next generation PCIe storage. PCIe has few limitations, and we have plans to take this technology to the next level,” says Schmitt and further adds, “it is highly important to address the ever evolving needs of the market by pushing the performance envelope while driving the total cost of ownership down simultaneously; we are looking forward to spark a new strategy in the enterprise world in this regard.”

With SSDs having a solid place in the storage hierarchy, OCZ’s acquisition by Toshiba was timely indeed. “We continue to enhance our SSD technologies to help align the PCIe and SATA roadmap for both enterprise and client customer requirements,” he concludes.

OCZ Storage Solutions

San Jose, CA

Ralph Schmitt, CEO

OCZ provides high performance client and enterprise solid-state storage products