IBM Storage Banks on NVMe

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IBM is officially working on NVMe storage systems, the company announced Sunday.

NVMe, short for Non-Volatile Memory Express, is the latency-busting storage standard that promises to further erode the performance gap between flash storage and today’s server processors. On May 7, IBM formally announced that it is working on an NVMe-enabled storage portfolio that the company says will start shipping in the first half of 2018.

“NVMe is a new language protocol that is replacing traditional SAS and SATA standards for solid state data storage. Through employing parallelism, to simultaneously process data across a network of devices, clients can anticipate significantly reduced delays caused by data bottlenecks and move higher volumes of data within their existing flash storage systems,” explained IBM in a media advisory.

“IBM’s NVMe strategy is based on optimizing the entire storage system stack – from applications requiring the data to flash technology to store it,” continued the company.

As it turns out, IBM claims that it has already been already been laying out the groundwork for NVMe.

Examples include the user-space I/O technology used in the FlashSystem A9000 that enables applications to directly access flash storage capacity instead of first traversing various operating system layers. IBM Spectrum Scale storage software includes a local read-only cache (LROC) feature that offers some of the NVMe’s application performance-enhancing capabilities.

IBM’s joins other data storage vendors gearing up for NVMe in the data center.

Early last year, EMC (now part of Dell Technologies) announced a NVMe storage array, the DSSD D5. EMC acquired DSSD, a flash startup specializing in bid data workloads, in 2014.

According to EMC’s performance estimates, the standalone 5U storage system was capable of sustaining throughput of 100GB per second and had an IOPS (input/output operations per second) rating of up to 10 million. Latency, one of the primary storage challenges addressed by NVMe, could dip as low as 100 microseconds on the DSSD D5. Dell EMC has since discontinued the DSSD D5, but its innovations will live on in other flash storage products from the IT giant.

Last month, Pure Storage announced an all-NVMe storage system called the FlashArray//X. Pure is currently accepting orders with deliveries to take place early in the company’s second quarter fiscal 2018 (May 1 through July 31).

All-Flash Array Market Heats Up

Meanwhile, demand for all-flash arrays keeps growing, according to The NPD Group. The research firm today announced unit sales of all-flash arrays (AFAs) have more than doubled (126 percent) in the 12 months ending March 2017 and jumped 72 percent in terms of dollar sales in the business-to-business (B2B) indirect channel.

The top selling brands are Dell EMC, NetApp and Nimble Storage. IBM took fourth place in The NPD Group’s rankings.

“AFAs have exhibited strong growth in the B2B Indirect Channel over the last year as more firms look to grow their analytics practices due to growth of big data, as well as increasing the performance of their virtualized workloads,” said Michael Diamond, director of Industry Analysis at The NPD Group’s Commercial Technology unit. “Key vertical markets for AFA growth are financial services, hospitality, life sciences, manufacturing, government and higher-education, as they are also key markets for more advanced analytics.”

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Enterprise Storage Forum. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Pedro Hernandez
Pedro Hernandez
Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to Datamation, eWEEK, and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro.

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