This blog post is part 4 of a four-part series that explains how Nonvolatile Memory Express (NVMe), NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF), and new storage-class memory (SCM) are changing the game for data centers. For a deeper dive, download the white paper New Frontiers in Solid- State Storage.


In the coming years, every major storage vendor will be rolling out its own solutions for NVMe, NVMe-oF, and SCM. However, as with most things in life, the devil is in the details. Different vendors will implement new solid-state technologies and architectures in very different ways.


As you evaluate your options, don’t be afraid to ask tough questions. Make sure that in all the talk about amazing speeds and feeds, your vendor isn’t pushing a solution that will create more problems than it solves.


Put Flash Vendors to the Test

Most organizations won’t overhaul their entire storage architectures overnight. They’re more likely to bring in new technologies for specific targeted purposes. For example, organizations might initially deploy SCM only for the most performance-sensitive applications, while continuing to use flash solid-state disks for the rest. The best way to do that is to be able to non-disruptively introduce these new solid-state storage technologies as just another tier of storage that functions alongside your existing storage (both flash and hard disk drives).


Is that what your vendor is offering? Here are three key questions to help you find out:


What will I have to give up to use NVMe and SCM capabilities?

You shouldn’t have to sacrifice enterprise-class data management features and resiliency and create another silo to use new storage technologies. You choose storage vendors not just for the latest technology, but also because they offer mature and stable software, resiliency and redundancy, flexible data management, and simple application integrations. If choosing a new storage technology means sacrificing any of these things, tread carefully.


How will this solution evolve?

Underlying hardware technologies can change quickly. Avoid solutions custom-built from the ground up for a specific new technology, or you’ll have a hard time adding new capabilities over time. Run away from any vendor insisting that its custom-built solid-state media in a proprietary form factor can compete in even the medium term with the inherent price, performance, and longevity of commodity-based solutions from giants such as Intel, Samsung, and Toshiba. Don’t get locked in. Instead, look for software-centric solutions that can continually incorporate new underlying hardware and storage media without making wholesale changes.


How will this affect my existing environment?

You don’t want to have to deploy an entirely separate silo for each new storage technology in your data center. Rather, you should be able to use mature clustering technology not only to introduce new technology non-disruptively but also to provision and manage applications that adhere to your service levels regardless of the specific mix of underlying architectures and storage media.


Bottom line, as exciting as new storage innovations are, they don’t change your core requirements for storage: high-performance, reliable access to your data, with simple management and operation. NVMe , NVMe-oF, and SCM technologies really can bring amazing new capabilities, but only if they’re designed to function as part of your real-world data center, not as a science experiment.


NetApp Aces the Test

At NetApp, we offer some of the fastest flash storage platforms in the industry, and we constantly release new features and capabilities for our products. We do these things with a focus on software innovation and scale-out architectures, so our customers can continually extend the value of their NetApp investments.


We’re bringing this same approach to NVMe, NVMe-oF, and SCM. As new technology innovations offer more performance, density, and cost efficiency, our customers will be able to take advantage of them easily, non-disruptively, and as part of their existing enterprise-grade storage platforms.


Visit our booth at Flash Memory Summit, August 8–10, 2017, and attend our keynote, “Creating the Fabric of a New Generation of Enterprise Apps,” on Thursday, August 10, 11:30 a.m. to noon.


More Information

Explore the implications of these new innovations in the other three blog posts in this series:

For more information, visit our NVMe page.

Ravi Kavuri

Ravi Kavuri is the VP of Engineering for ONTAP at NetApp, leading the team responsible for ONTAP data management with file system, high availability, RAID and performance teams. Ravi joined NetApp in 2007 as the CTO for an emerging products group. Prior to joining NetApp, Ravi was a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems working on scalable storage systems and long term archival storage. Ravi joined SUN Microsystems as a part of the acquisition of StorageTek where he was a StorageTek Fellow working on file systems, long term retention of data and storage networking. He holds a BS degree in Electronics and Telecommunications and an MS in Software Engineering.

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