The role of NVMe and NVMe-oF

It is entirely valid to argue that it is storage evolution that has produced the greatest leaps forward in data center technology in recent years. Until a decade ago, storage was sometimes referred to as “snorage”, since things rarely changed by much. Capacity of disks grew slowly and access times to data were hard to improve without expending huge sums of money. But then came solid-state storage, better known to many simply as Flash. 

The move from spinning disks and disk arrays to solid-state drives (SSDs) and all-Flash arrays (AFAs) greatly increased the performance of storage, and hence the performance of the applications that depend on it. Other valuable, but sometimes overlooked, benefits delivered by AFA platforms included a significant reduction in space and power consumption. 

Alongside these advances in storage – and often closely dependent on them – there have of course been many other developments in data center technology. One example is the fast-maturing world of converged infrastructure and HCI, now being deployed to support the creation of private clouds. All these developments were essential as data center designers strove to keep up with rapidly changing business demands and user expectations.  

But AFAs and SSDs still relied on storage protocols that were designed to accommodate the limitations of spinning disks. Adoption was simple and the technology reached the market quickly, but performance wasn’t as good as it could be. 

This was the spur for the development of NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) and NVMe-oF (Non-Volatile Memory Express over Fabrics). This paper provides an overview of the roles that we expect NVMe and NVMe-oF to have in the evolution of data centers and of their ability to deliver modern IT services in times of rapid business change.

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