Posts Tagged ‘NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory express)’

IBM Brings NVMe to Revamped Storage

February 23, 2018

The past year has been good for IBM storage and it’s not only that the company rang up four consecutive quarters of positive storage revenue. Over that period and starting somewhat earlier, the company embarked on a thorough revamping of its storage lineup, adding all the hot goodies from flash to software defined storage (Spectrum) to NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory express) in 2018. NVMe represents a culmination of sorts by allowing the revamped storage products to actually deliver on the low latency and parallelism promises of the latest technology.

Hyper-Scale Manager for IBM FlashSystem (Jared Lazarus/Feature Photo Service for IBM)

The revamp follows changes in the way organizations are deploying technology. They now are wrestling with exponential volumes of data growth and the need to quickly modernize their traditional IT infrastructures by taking advantage of multi-cloud, analytics, and cognitive/AI workloads going forward.

This is not just a revamp of existing products. IBM has added innovations and enhancements across the storage portfolio to expand the range of data types supported, deliver new function, and enable new technology deployment.

This week, IBM Storage — the #2 storage software vendor by revenue market share according to IDC—announced a wide-ranging set of innovations to its software-defined storage (SDS), data protection, and storage systems portfolio. Continuing IBM investments in enhancing its SDS (Spectrum), data protection, and storage systems capabilities, these announcements demonstrate its commitment to IBM storage solutions as the foundation for multi-cloud and cognitive/AI applications and workloads.

With these enhancements, IBM is aiming to transform on-premises infrastructure to meet these new business imperatives. Recent innovations and enhancements across the IBM Storage portfolio expand the range of data types supported, deliver new function, and enable new technology deployment. For example, IBM Spectrum NAS delivers enterprise capabilities and SDS simplicity with cost benefits for common file workloads, including support for Microsoft environments. Or, IBM Spectrum Protect still addresses data security concerns but just added General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and automated detection and alerting of ransomware.

Along the same lines, IBM Spectrum Storage Suite brings a complete solution for software-defined storage needs while gaining expanded range and value through the inclusion of IBM Spectrum Protect Plus at no additional charge. Similarly, IBM Spectrum Virtualize promises lower data storage costs through new and better performing data reduction technologies for the IBM Storwize family, IBM SVC, and IBM FlashSystem V9000, as well as for over 440 non-IBM vendor storage systems.

Finally, IBM Spectrum Connect simplifies management of complex server environments by providing a consistent experience when provisioning, monitoring, automating, and orchestrating IBM storage in containerized VMware and Microsoft PowerShell environments. Orchestration is critical in increasingly complex container environments.

The newest part of the IBM storage announcements is NVM Express (NVMe). This is an open logical device interface specification for accessing non-volatile storage media attached via a PCIe bus. The non-volatile memory referred to is flash memory, typically in the form of solid-state drives (SSDs). NVMe provides a logical device interface designed from the ground up to capitalize on the low latency and internal parallelism of flash-based storage devices, essentially mirroring the parallelism of modern CPUs, platforms and applications.

By its design, NVMe allows host hardware and software to fully exploit the levels of parallelism possible in modern SSDs. As a result, NVMe reduces I/O overhead and brings various performance improvements relative to previous logical-device interfaces, including multiple, long command queues, and reduced latency. (The previous interface protocols were developed for use with far slower hard disk drives (HDD) where a lengthy delay in response exists between a request and the corresponding data receipt due to much slower data speeds than RAM speeds could generate a fault.

NVMe devices exist both in the form of standard PCIe expansion card and as 2.5-inch form-factor devices that provide a four-lane PCIe interface through the U.2 connector (formerly known as SFF-8639) and SATA storage devices and the M.2 specification for internally mounted computer expansion cards also support NVMe as the logical device interface.

Maybe NVMe sounds like overkill now but it won’t the next time you upgrade your IT infrastructure. Don’t plan on buying more HDD or going back to IPv3. With IoT, cognitive computing, blockchain, and more your users will have no tolerance for a slow infrastructure.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his work at and here.

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