Q&A: As prices fall, flash memory is eating the world

SanDisk's top strategy guru talks about the expanding role of flash in the enterprise and how emerging storage techs like 3D NAND will change the future.

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Western Digital in October announced plans to acquire SanDisk for some $19 billion in a deal that -- once finalized -- will marry leaders in the traditional hard drive and the emerging flash memory markets. Sumit Sadana, SanDisk's chief strategy officer and general manager of its Enterprise Solutions unit, spoke recently with IDG Chief Content Officer John Gallant to share insights on the merger and to explore the evolving role of flash in corporate data centers.

Sadana says SanDisk has driven the pricetag of flash below a dollar per gigabyte and, with compression and dedupe, flash costs are now only 20 cents per gig. He also discussed the emergence of so-called storage-class memory (a new tier in the traditional memory architecture) and SanDisk's work developing 3D NAND. Sadana also talked about how flash will help customers capture the real promise of big data and the Internet of things, and how they'll need to be prepared for even more buyouts and mergers in the storage market.

I know you can't get into specifics about the Western Digital deal and where that stands. But can you tell me, from a positioning perspective, why undertake this merger? How will it benefit customers?

The merger gives us an opportunity to create a company like no other company out there. It will have the broadest array of storage solutions for customers. As you know, there is a huge amount of growth happening in data all around us, be it in data analytics, the world powered by data intelligence and IoT, cloud computing growth, etc. And that is a world where you don't need only one type of solution. You need both flash and hard disk drive. [Western Digital] brings world-class capability in hard drives, and SanDisk is a leader on the flash side, so putting these two companies together would allow our customers to have a one-stop shop for some of the most cutting-edge solutions in the world.

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