A critical component of edge deployments is the capability to send and receive data. Without it, today's IoT and mobile applications would not be possible. While we may think of Solid State Drives (SSDs) as the future of high-speed server storage, they're also enabling tomorrow's data-sharing revolution, thanks to Storage Area Networking (SAN).
That's where Non-volatile Memory Express over Fabric (NVME-oF) comes in. By avoiding traditional data bottlenecks caused by PCI back lanes, NVMe-oF can leverage the speed and capacity of SSDs.
The traditional challenges of NVMe-oF
Despite its potential, implementing NVMe-oF architectures has presented multiple challenges. One has been a slower than optimum network discovery process due to iSCSI architecture. Another has been additional network complexity due to specialized equipment. And finally, after implementing NVMe-oF architectures, it hasn't always been easy to scale them to meet growing data demands.
The solution: NVMe IP SAN powered by Dell Technologies
Thankfully, Dell Technologies, working closely with VMware, has overcome these obstacles with its latest NVMe/TCP suite of applications, services, and supporting hardware. Their combined efforts have resulted in the following benefits:
With its commitment to NVMe/TCP, Dell Technologies has harnessed the ubiquity of Ethernet and leveraged its continual improvement. After all, it's hard to find a network that doesn't have some TCP/IP component, and its related technology is constantly evolving.
In addition, with NVMe/TCP, Dell Technologies has driven significant performance improvements over iSCI on ESX architecture, including:
- Input/Output Operations per Second (IOPS)- NVMe/TCP demonstrated 2.5 to 3.5x the IOPs of iSCSI. Thus, the system can process data faster than ever.
- Latency - Over iSCSI, NVMe/TCP offered 70 to 75% reduced latency. Therefore, the system moves data at significantly higher speeds.
- CPU per IO - Dell Technologies' NVMe/TCP reduced CPU utilization by 40 to 50% compared to traditional iSCI on ESX. As a result, the CPUs within the network are free to perform other operations.
Although solution providers have had the option to use a variety of storage area network architectures for years, some, like NVMe over Fiber Channel (NVMe/FC), have required an investment in extra networking equipment which adds complexity. Without the added hardware, NVMe/FC configurations are vulnerable to congestion spreading, a condition in which more and more data buffers fill up, hampering overall system performance.
Another challenge previously inherent with NVMe/oF environments has been its manageability at scale, with reliance upon a direct discovery management model being the critical limitation. In response, Dell Technologies and VMware developed centralized discovery as part of their NVMe/TCP suite. This innovation allows the new SAN to run parallel with other storage protocols making the migration to NVMe/TCP simple.
Dell Technologies / VMware - key SAN innovations
To facilitate centralized discovery and other capabilities of their NVMe IP SAN, Dell Technologies and VMware have invested in a variety of innovations, some of which include:
SmartFabric Storage Software (SFSS) - Enables centralized discovery with a unique controller. In addition, storage admins can create and activate zoning configurations that automatically make hosts aware of new storage resources and facilitate connection.
Dell Technologies PowerStore: NVMe/TCP and SFSS integration - Leveraging the pull registration technique, Dell Technologies has made its PowerStore storage arrays compatible with centralized discovery.
VMware ESXi 7.0u3 - NVMe/TCP protocol and SFSS integration
- In partnership with VMware, each ESX server interface can explicitly register discovery information with the SFSS using the push registration technique. The same protocol has also been certified to run on Dell Technologies PowerEdge servers.
PowerSwitch and SmartFabric Services (SFS) - Although Dell Technologies assures compatibility of NVMe IP SAN over traditional switches, the combination of SFSS and Dell Technologies EMC PowerSwitch can automate switch configuration.
PowerMax and PowerFlex - Dell Technologies EMC also plans to offer compatibility with their PowerMax storage arrays and PowerFlex software-defined storage solution.
Supporting the future of NVMe
While advancing the technology with its solutions, Dell Technologies has also invested in supporting NVMe-oF as an open and interoperable storage platform. For example, the company maintains an open-source Linux client that provides discovery automation. It will be made available near the end of 2022. Dell Technologies will also help create a GitHub-based developer community to share developer toolkits, useful scripts, and SFSS REST API documentation.
Reap the benefits of Dell Technologies IP SAN for your next storage solution
To ensure the best possible storage solution for your application, you needn't divert your staff's expertise to designing and specifying hardware. Instead, with the right systems integration partner, you can maintain your team's focus on developing breakthrough software solutions that leverage the advantages of NVMe/TCP to their fullest extent.
UNICOM Engineering is a Dell Technologies Titanium OEM Partner and has also had the pleasure of being named Dell Technologies Americas OEM Partner of the Year for three consecutive years. Our team is highly skilled and ready to power your solutions with Dell Technologies' industry-leading portfolio to deliver unique solutions faster and more reliably. To learn more about how we can shorten your time to market while creating a competitive advantage, watch our Why Build on Dell Technologies Video and schedule a consultation today.