Prepare Your Data Center for Tomorrow

By Floyd GoodrichJuly 18, 2017

Today's users expect response times to be faster than ever. They want their applications to respond instantly, but in order to do that, applications require more compute cores, more memory, storage, and faster server processors.

To enable applications to run faster, engineers are looking at new breakthroughs like the migration of storage into server platform, which allows the convergence of hardware and software. Modern servers are increasingly adopting the storage migration to allow application models to leverage the advantages of high-speed converged server-storage systems.

Some examples of in-server convergence are Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), VMware (vSphere, EVO, and VSAN), software-defined and virtual storage appliances (SDS and VSAN), Virtual Server Infrastructure (VSI), and Microsoft (Scale Out File Services [SOFS], SQL Server, Exchange, Hyper-V). Other instances of in-server convergence include Hadoop big data analytics, OpenStack cloud, and a variety of content solutions like imaging, video, security, and medical.

New generation applications depend on high-performance servers that access flash storage through fast, low-latency I/O roadways, for example, PCIe, which is a more efficient solution than legacy server storage I/O protocols and interfaces such as AHCI (SATA) and serial attached SCSI (SAS).

The advent of flash-based solid state drives (SSDs) using SATA and SAS is a game changer that entirely changed the storage landscape. Flash storage boosts the performance considerably as compared to the slower HDDs. Still, the true potential of flash devices and PCIe hardware was yet to be fully realized. This paved the way for NVMe.

NVMe Fundamentals and Benefits

The existing storage architecture needed to transform to be able to support the new applications. A storage protocol was required to unleash the full potential of SSDs, and that protocol is here, called the NVMe. NVMe enables advanced applications to achieve their full potential. These are the applications that demand high-performance servers with access to local flash storage via the I/O data highways. Similarly, the I/O highways needed an efficient and optimized protocol like the NVMe to manage the I/O data traffic flow at lightning fast speed.

NVMe has been created from the ground up with deeper queues that support a higher number of commands in those queues. This, in turn, allows the SSD to optimize command execution for larger concurrent IOPS. Moreover, NVMe provides both compatibility and flexibility, which completely eliminates complexity, latency, and overhead while supporting more concurrent I/O work.

NVMe will coexist along with other server storage I/O technologies like the SAS and SATA for some time, but the technology will be in the top tier of storage as it takes full advantages of the low latency and inherent speed of flash.

New-age data centers that embrace cutting edge technology will rapidly adopt the NVMe storage protocol. While some computing environments will initially focus on the technology to optimize capacity and local server storage I/O performance, there are others who might prefer a gradual approach, phasing in the emerging external NVMe flash-based shared storage over the time.

However, planning is crucial, as NVMe spans storage, servers, I/O hardware, as well as software. Data center enterprises that are thinking of adopting the NVMe technology should certainly take into consideration all the ramifications. This is because the choices that are made today will have a perpetual impact on the future as far as information and data infrastructures are concerned.

Data centers, to prepare for tomorrow, should find answers to key questions like — how much speed is required for the current applications, and how future growth plans can affect the speed requirements? How can the financial return on investments be maximized by deploying NVMe, and how success can be measured? Find answers to your questions and learn more about how NVMe can be leveraged to enable faster applications at www.micron.com/storage.