SNIA Addressing Needs for Solid State Storage Education

At Storage Networking World (SNW) this year in Long Beach, CA, Storage Switzerland caught up with Storage Networking Industry Assn (SNIA) officers Wayne Adams and Molly Rector, to talk about what the organization has been doing recently and where things are going. Solid state remains one of the primary technology areas in storage and as a result SNIA is expanding the activities of its Solid State Storage Initiative (SSSI).

SSD Features Rating Project

SNIA will be circulating a survey of the user community asking them to rate the importance of different SSD features in order to get a better picture of what solutions should look like moving forward. The results should help manufacturers develop better products and help end users make better SSD application choices as well. More details can be found on the SNIA.org website.

SSD Performance Testing

Testing high performance products like solid state storage can be difficult for end users who are trying to make meaningful product comparisons and can be a challenge for vendors as well. To help address this SNIA has just released white papers on SSD standards and markets and on SSD Performance Test Specifications (PTS), including the just released PTS Enterprise 1.1.

Workload I/O Capture Program (WIOCP)

Similar to performance testing, just developing pertinent use case data can be difficult for manufacturers trying to understand how SSDs are being used in production environments. So SNIA is launching a new program to collect real-world storage performance metrics from applications in actual, everyday operation.

Participants download and install a Windows program that collects I/O metrics at three different levels within the I/O software stack, at the disk level, at the volume manager level and the OS level. The program runs in the background with negligible impact on performance (according to SNIA’s literature) collecting several performance metrics including IOPS, throughput (MB/s), queue depths and response times (latency).

The program runs for a week automatically collecting data which are exported as files that the participant then emails to SNIA. The SSSI Technical Development Committee and Work Group will analyze these data to help characterize the access patterns that specific workloads generate. These analyses and the source data will be available from SNIA for participants, the industry, end-users and other interested parties. These data should improve the understanding of how SSDs are performing in real-world environments and help manufacturers with future SSD designs.

NVM Programming

The NVM (Non-volatile Memory) Programming Technical Work Group has developed a tutorial on the NVM Programming model that was presented at SNW. The objective of this project is to develop programming models that enable software to leverage the unique characteristics of non-volatile memory in storage applications. Part of this emerging technology is the ‘storage/memory hybrid’ category that includes products that put flash on DIM modules to be used a lower-latency flash area or even as DRAM extension.

Storage Swiss Take

Flash has certainly been the technology topic in storage for the past several years and the largest driver of new products and new companies. Not surprisingly, it’s also one of the areas that IT practitioners need the most education. SNIA is responding to this need by expanding the activities of its Solid State Storage Initiative with projects around SSD testing, standards, features and programming guidelines for non-volatile RAM technologies. They’re also helping to develop a meaningful body of knowledge around SSD workloads that will help manufacturers understand how flash is being used in the real world so they can design products to address salient needs.

Eric is an Analyst with Storage Switzerland and has over 25 years experience in high-technology industries. He’s held technical, management and marketing positions in the computer storage, instrumentation, digital imaging and test equipment fields. He has spent the past 15 years in the data storage field, with storage hardware manufacturers and as a national storage integrator, designing and implementing open systems storage solutions for companies in the Western United States.  Eric earned degrees in electrical/computer engineering from the University of Colorado and marketing from California State University, Humboldt.  He and his wife live in Colorado and have twins in college.

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