Survey Says End-to-End NVMe™ is in Your Future

NVMe replaces the connectivity limitations of legacy storage protocols with the PCIe hardware interface.

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There’s always an adoption curve when it comes to new technologies. In today’s digital landscape, where industries are constantly being disrupted by new applications and use cases driven by IoT, machine learning, AI, and analytics, those not on the NVMe™ adoption curve may get left behind. Simply put, IT managers must design for the future.

Today, many IT organizations have started embracing NVMe for its high performance and low latency— and as a better alternative to legacy protocols such as SATA for accessing flash storage. But for others, the question is not “if,” but “when” you will bring NVMe into your organization.

The Evolution to NVMe

As more IT organizations adopt solid-state storage, the industry also needs to evolve the “straw,” or connector, between compute resources and said storage.

Unlike its predecessors, NVMe was specifically designed for flash and brings massive performance benefits and excellent storage economics to the data center. This means analytics and mission-critical business applications can run faster and decisions, in turn, can be made quicker.

NVMe capitalizes on parallel, low latency data paths to the underlying media, similar to high-performance processor architectures. NVMe replaces the connectivity limitations of legacy storage protocols and “single lane roads” by incorporating a “multi-lane highway” based on the PCIe hardware interface.


With NVMe, a much higher number of queues are available to support next-generation application architectures. Its parallel and scalable interface is designed to reduce latencies and increase IOPS and bandwidth; this enables NVMe to support more than 64K queues and 64K commands/queue, versus 1 queue with a 32 commands/queue for SATA. This is a staggering difference in magnitude. As we look into architectures to support the overwhelming data demands of the forthcoming Zettabyte Era, NVMe will play a key role in enabling efficient, data-optimized architectures.

The State of NVMe

Understanding today’s workloads, their importance to the business, and how their performance could differ using NVMe are critical to justifying the investment. So what are the common starting points for NVMe to date?

A recent study by Freeform Dynamics, "NVMe - The State of Play," illustrates that NVMe is most widely deployed to support very low latency-sensitive transaction systems. According to the survey, business-critical, real-time analytics, data-intensive modelling, and engineering are the workloads where NVMe is most widely deployed, with demanding analytics workloads not far behind.

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Source: Inside Track Research Note, NVMe – The State of Play, Freeform Dynamics Ltd, 2019

These kinds of workloads are a perfect fit for NVMe because they require fast access to data, and often to very large volumes of data. The study also revealed an increase in large-scale virtual machine and desktop virtualization environments, and it’s likely that usage will expand quickly as more and more customers realize the benefits of NVMe.

Making the Move to NVMe

The Freeform Dynamics survey also asked organizations about scenarios that would drive IT investments in NVMe. In other words, what needs to happen to make the move to NVMe?  

According to the survey, as users, customers, and applications continue to create more data, there are often two choices: migrate data off the current storage platforms, or acquire more capacity. Even with capabilities to help with data migration and archiving, asking the business to move data off active systems can generate significant resistance. It is often simpler to just buy more storage, assuming you have the space and power to install the extra hardware. This provides a convenient way to introduce NVMe systems into your computer rooms or data centers, but it’s likely a slow means of deployment.  

The Freeform Dynamics survey revealed another big opportunity to bring NVMe into play: if you have to deploy new infrastructure to support a new application, or if an application is undergoing a major update. But again, the study found, NVMe adoption will be limited to how fast your organization is undertaking such projects.

The main opportunity to deploy NVMe widely and quickly involves having hardware that is either reaching its financial write-off, or if there is funding to replace out-of-support platforms, according to the study. Alternatively, the value of NVMe can be seen in the “do nothing” approach. Staying on a legacy protocol could have negative impacts when compared with the potential performance and improvements and reduced latency that NVMe delivers.

NVMe can bring IT organizations measurable financial benefits today. If it enables better responsive to applications and users, this can translate into improved customer experience, increased order conversion rates, and faster analysis of business trends, among other things.

Future-Ready – Preparing for NVMe-oF

Industry-leading organizations are embracing and implementing NVMe to gain increased performance and lower latency for business-critical applications. NVMe is the protocol of today. It also lays the foundation for tomorrow’s next-gen IT infrastructure.

The next step in this evolution involves extending the power of NVMe to NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF). NVMe-oF enables access to flash-based storage over networks, while achieving nearly the same high performance, low latency benefits as locally attached NVMe storage. Plus, there is virtually no limit to the number of servers that can share NVMe-oF storage or the number of storage devices that can be shared. This brings the benefits of NVMe to the network for performance, improved data consolidation, and a shared storage environment.

At-scale enterprises with hundreds or thousands of racks in their data centers are embracing NVMe so they will be well positioned to meet tomorrow’s demands. Driving business value is what NVMe is all about. Don’t get left behind in the evolution to NVMe.

To learn more, download the “NVME – The State of Play Report.”

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How Likely Will the Following Business or IT events Trigger the Acquisition of NVMe Solutions?

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Source: Inside Track Research Note, NVMe – The State of Play, Freeform Dynamics Ltd, 2019


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