Getting Hands-on NVMe Experience Without the Cost or the Risk

Non-volatile memory express (NVMe) is among the most hyped storage technologies of 2019 – and for good reason. As previously covered by Storage Switzerland, NVMe’s ability to increase queue depths and command counts and to connect directly to storage memory, stands to substantially accelerate the performance of data-intensive and performance hungry modern workloads (i.e. artificial intelligence and NoSQL databases) as well as more traditional databases and Tier 1 applications (i.e. Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle) alike.

Despite the buzz, NVMe deployments remain in early days. Less than 22% of large enterprises have deployed NVMe on a shared storage architecture (typically used to support enterprise applications in production) according to ActualTech Media’s recent survey, State of NVMe, Perceptions and Misconceptions. At the same time, approximately 60% of large enterprises definitively intend to deploy NVMe, as the promised performance acceleration is becoming a requirement for modern business competitiveness. In fact, although 92% of respondents indicated having no direct experience with NVMe, 91% of these respondents expect a positive impact from NVMe.

The shift to NVMe comes at a significant price premium for the enterprise, making it challenging for enterprises to test and validate new solutions. Not only are NVMe drives more expensive than serial-attached SCSI (SAS) drives, but existing storage environments are typically not retrofitted to include NVMe. NVMe usually necessitates a net new storage purchase, alongside the addition of more expensive compute and networking infrastructure to obtain the full performance benefits of NVMe. Furthermore, the shift to NVMe comes with a degree of risk for the enterprise. Standards bodies, for instance for storage networking protocols that make it possible to deploy NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF) for shared storage, and key elements of the software stack are still being developed.

For storage managers, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that NVMe’s role at the end of the day is to help lines of business run better. To do so, accelerated application performance plays a crucial role in optimizing the user experience, but NVMe is only one component of that puzzle. It is important for the enterprise to understand how NVMe will fit into the enterprise’s budget, and to what degree their unique set of applications will be able to take advantage of the technology. Millions of IOPS do not matter if there is another limiting bottleneck in their environment, or if their applications are transferring data in a different way.

To learn more about establishing a workload validation practice to justify the shift to NVMe, access Storage Switzerland’s webinar on demand.

Senior Analyst, Krista Macomber produces analyst commentary and contributes to a range of client deliverables including white papers, webinars and videos for Storage Switzerland. She has a decade of experience covering all things storage, data center and cloud infrastructure, including: technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her previous experience includes leading the IT infrastructure practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research, and leading market intelligence initiatives for media company TechTarget.

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