Today’s large-scale data centers — enterprise, CSP, or hyperscale — are stuffed full of storage devices because the whole point of IT is information: acquiring, storing, analyzing, and transforming data into information. More and more, the need for speed in business-critical applications is driving the deployment of ever-faster NVMe™ (Non-Volatile Memory express) Solid-State Drives (SSDs).
Data centers have traditionally connected drives and servers in two ways: Install drives directly into a server chassis using available slots, or directly attach a drive enclosure containing drives to a server using a SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) cable.
Such point-to-point connections have been the norm, but now there is another way to extend the value of flash.
NVMe over fabrics (NVMe-oF™) is a networked storage protocol for accessing high-speed NVMe SSDs over a network fabric like Ethernet, InfiniBand, or Fibre Channel. It allows storage to be disaggregated from compute to make that storage widely available to multiple applications and servers. By enabling servers and applications to share a common pool of storage capacity, data can be easily shared between applications or needed capacity can be allocated to an application to respond to application needs.
For CIOs and data center architects out there, you may want to consider purchasing an NVMe-oF storage solution if you need:
- High-Performance Storage: NVMe-oF provides low latency and high throughput, making it ideal for applications that require fast storage access.
- Flexibility in Deployment: NVMe-oF enables high-performance sharing, providing flexibility in data access and resource utilization.
- Scalable Storage Resources: NVMe-oF allows for the addition of more storage devices to the network, enabling the scalability of storage resources to meet growing demands.
- Simplified Data Center Architecture: NVMe-oF enables the centralization of storage resources, simplifying the architecture and reducing complexity in data center environments.
By taking advantage of the ubiquity and performance of Ethernet, a storage platform like the Western Digital OpenFlex™ Data24 NVMe-oF storage platform can be connected to an Ethernet network that includes one or more servers with appropriate NICs. Thus, the storage contained within the NVMe-oF platform—or platforms—can be allocated to whichever server or servers on the network need storage. The benefits are apparent.
- Storage can be assigned as needed across platforms and servers
- Storage assignments can be adjusted over time as application needs evolve
- Storage can be expanded or upgraded to new SSD technology by just adding NVMe-oF enclosures to the network rather than accessing servers or existing drive enclosures.
- Storage utilization can be safely pushed up because storage demand is spread across servers and applications with different peaks and valleys
The bottom line is better flexibility to upgrade and share NVMe SSD storage separately from the server as its technology evolves.
Western Digital’s OpenFlex Data24 NVMe-oF platform gives the data center architect flexibility when provisioning storage by allowing multiple data paths that can be configured for redundancy, performance, or a mix of both. This flexibility means fewer server SKUs must be inventoried to provide more customer options.
And because the Data24 connects via Ethernet, it can also be deployed as part of an Edge configuration (at a manufacturing plant or other satellite location) comprised of just one or a few servers. In that case, directly connecting the same building blocks – storage platform and server – over Ethernet might suffice. This way, your architects and provisioning/support teams avoid additional SKUs, whether building/operating a central data center or distributed configurations.
Today’s massive data centers are charged with providing reliable, cost-effective services at scale. NVMe-oF improves SSD storage flexibility, scalability, and utilization, which leads to reduced acquisition cost and TCO plus improved sustainability. That makes NVMe-oF truly a win/win/win technology.