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Pavilion Data Systems 2020 Predictions: NVMe-oF, a Hot Topic in Storage for 2020

VMblog Predictions 2020 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2020.  Read them in this 12th annual series exclusive.

By Walter Hinton, marketing at Pavilion Data Systems

NVMe-oF, a Hot Topic in Storage for 2020

According to Industry Projections, NVMe has crossed the chasm with the number of NVMe gigabyte shipments likely surpassing SAS and SATA combined in 2019.  In 2020, G2M Inc. expects NVMe to reach $57 billion in total sales. 

On the other hand, Gartner's Hype Cycle for Storage and Data Protection Technologies, 2019 sets a very different tone, suggesting that we are approaching the trough of disillusionment.

Both views are fair. 

Looking at momentum for both NVMe and NVMe-oF, there appears to be a critical mass.  According to Tech Target, 580+ flash and NVMe related pieces of content were published on their properties in 2019.  That's a 60 percent growth since 2018.  Today, if you search for NVMe-oF, 43 million results turn up in less than 1 second.  Searching on that same term three years ago would likely yield a few million results at best.

What's driving NVMe-oF?

There is a perfect storm brewing that could make NVMe-oF one of the hottest topics for 2020.  It entails a combination of inevitable increases in SSD capacity, mature NVMe-oF standards, and broader support for NVMe-oF by operating systems.

First are large NVMe SSDs.  Drive manufacturers want to cram more bits into smaller form factors.  This is a given across all form factors.  But as drives get larger, there is a direct correlation to the time it takes to rebuild that drive when it fails. 

Traditional Direct-Attached Storage (DAS) relies on the host CPU to rebuild a failed drive.  In a sharded database design, this means that all of the shards must be collected across the network, then applied to the drive.  DAS-based drive recovery can take as long as an hour/TB with reduced network and application performance.

By disaggregating drives from hosts and deploying a RAID scheme, drive failures can be addressed at the array level where there is zero impact to application and network performance.  In some cases, it is even possible to SWARM storage controllers together for a drive rebuild, recovering 1 TB is as fast as 5 minutes.

In 2019, we saw the maturation of the NVMe-oF 1.1 standard, which now offers RDMA and TCP transport, enhanced device discovery, as well as full-featured high-availability.  This means it is easier than ever to remove SSDs from servers and create a completely disaggregated architecture at reliably at scale.

As we roll into 2020, we believe that adoption will increase with NVMe-over-RoCEv2 with VMware's vSphere 7.0 release and various NVMe-oF drivers coming into the market for Microsoft Windows. While DAS will continue to be an option, TechTarget's Flash Pulse Survey shows that 47 percent of NVMe adopters plan to implement through storage arrays vs. DAS.

If we are to believe the Gartner Hype Cycle, there is much to do for both vendors and users in 2020.  Having more vendors share use cases and promote end-user transformation is essential to unlocking the potential of NVMe-oF.  At the same time, expanding the opportunity with new operating systems support and more straightforward value propositions will separate hype from a real need. So we press on. 


About the Author

Walter Hinton 

Walter Hinton is responsible for marketing at Pavilion Data Systems, developer of the world's first Hyperparallel Flash Array.  He has both a deep technical background and extensive experience in building marketing teams and programs. Hinton played a key role in the development of the managed storage industry, having managed all design, implementation, and operations of 21 global data centers for Managed Storage International. He also served as chief strategist at StorageTek where he was one of the creators of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA). Most recently, Hinton was senior global director of product marketing at Western Digital.  He has written numerous articles, presented at many industry events, and holds a patent for an intelligent SAN.  In his spare time, you will find him playing golf (poorly) at the Omni Interlocken in Broomfield, Colorado.  He earned an MBA from the University of Denver and a BA from William Jewell College (MO) where he was an Oxford Honors Scholar.
Published Wednesday, January 29, 2020 6:18 AM by David Marshall
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