Looking for storage performance? No need to wait for NVMe

22 May, 2017
Todd Walls

The latest buzz in storage is NVM Express (NVMe) and for good reason.  The new interface greatly expands on the capabilities of the Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) by utilizing the massive amounts of parallelism available in NAND flash storage.  NVMe is capable of over 65,000 queues in comparison to a single command queue of AHCI.  Furthermore, there is support for more than 65,000 commands per queue compared to just 32 in AHCI.  There are a host of other improvements all geared toward efficiencies that result in substantial performance improvements.

A few smaller companies are currently selling storage products based on NVMe technology.  IBM and the major storage vendors all have it on their roadmaps.  Clearly NVMe will play a big role in powering the performance needs of tomorrow’s workloads.

But what about today’s needs?  I just mentioned that a few niche offerings are available from smaller companies, but those solutions fall short of addressing all the problems in the data center.  The desire to focus on solving the performance problem typically results in ignoring other facets of data optimization. When it comes to designing a solution to meet the demands of the data center, performance, resiliency, availability, management, automation and cost all matter.

IBM is different

How do we approach data optimization?  From a performance perspective, our products go a step further than NVMe.  Instead of simply optimizing a block layer driver like NVMe, IBM FlashSystem eliminates the need for one altogether by using a hardware-accelerated approach, known as IBM FlashCore.  For a pure performance array the FlashSystem 900 is a top-of-rack solution.

But, as I indicated above, performance is not always enough.  Data optimization requires enterprise grade data replication and protection, coupled with ease of management and automation.  These are addressed with IBM Spectrum Storage Suite.

Spectrum is a collection of storage software the facilitates data management and stands alone in the market. IDC has once again (for the third consecutive year) named IBM as the #1 vendor in software-defined storage controller software.  IBM has created a best-of-breed software-defined infrastructure solution by combining the low-latency performance of FlashSystem with the enterprise data management capability of Spectrum Storage Suite, and truly addressed all the requirements of data optimization.

If a superior solution to the performance of NVMe already exists, then why is it on our roadmap?  We have a broad portfolio of products to address the full range of client needs.  Not every workload requires the performance of a FlashCore-enabled array.  Those workloads can be modernized with industry standard SSDs found in the Storwize family.  IBM will use NVMe to optimize those SSD-based solutions, investing so that clients have a choice and are able to select the capability they need.

To find out more about the IBM advantage listen to Andy Walls, IBM Fellow and CTO, explain FlashCore in depth and discover how IBM is delivering tomorrow’s performance today.

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