What You Need to Know about NVMe-oF™

The era of NVMe-over-Fabrics (NVMe-oF™) is quickly approaching. By 2025, most data centers will likely have adopted NVMe-oF for some part of their architecture

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The era of NVMe-over-Fabrics (NVMe-oF™) is quickly approaching. By 2025, most data centers will likely have adopted NVMe-oF for some part of their architecture1. Accessing data from a shared storage system will be essentially as fast and as low latency as accessing data from direct attached storage (DAS). The year 2025 seems like a lifetime from now but the reality is it will be here before you know it.

Here are some of the top questions we hear from customers about this emerging technology. In this blog, our data center experts offer their responses, and point you to additional resources for understanding both the NVMe™ protocol and the fabric that stitches it together.

Question 1: What is NVMe-oF? 

Our blog “NVMe-oF Explained” is a great starting point if you are trying to better understand NVMe-oF. But, to sum it up:

NVMe-oF takes NVMe™ to the next level. The NVMe protocol is not limited to simply connecting flash drives, it may also be used as a networking protocol. When used in this context, a “fabric” enables any-to-any connections among elements. This distinguishes it from a network, which may restrict the connections possible among the attached elements.

NVMe-oF enables organizations to create a very high-performance storage network with latencies that rival direct attached storage (DAS). As a result, flash devices can be shared, when needed, among servers.

Question 2: How do I explain the business value of NVMe-oF?

We recently hosted a webinar titled “NVMe-oF 101 – Understanding NVMe-oF and How it Drives Business Value.” Here are some highlights from the webinar:

To address today’s dynamic data requirements, we must consider that end users need a next-generation infrastructure that aligns storage resources with workloads, yet without jeopardizing performance, capacity, or incurring unwarranted expense.

NVMe-oF is a storage protocol designed to simplify the interconnection of computer memory, storage, and networking, while improving performance of the storage infrastructure and related applications, to meet IT departments’ objectives and drive business value.

You can stream the webinar on-demand from here.

Question 3: Everyone is talking about the next-generation data center and the role NVMe-oF will play in bringing it to life, but what does that really mean? 

Data is not rigid and the infrastructure in which it lives cannot be rigid either. The future data center will be built around the data – to ensure the data can come alive and drive actionable insights – not simply configured to store it.  When organizations put data at the center, performance, scalability, and agility requirements will continue to grow, and this new data center infrastructure will require the building blocks — compute, memory, network, and storage – that are easily “composed, deployed, and torn down on the fly.” Enter NVMe-oF. For more information,

Question 4: We’re still evaluating NVMe – does it really deliver predictable performance?

This exact question came up during a recent NVMe webinar on AllTech Media with several vendor companies. It’s important to understand the impact of NVMe on your infrastructure before you can start the conversation about NVMe-oF.  To answer the question, simply, yes, NVMe does provide both predictable performance and efficiency, which is essential in allowing applications to deliver real-time information. Check out the webinar mentioned to learn more, and if you’re still looking for answers about NVMe, don’t forgot to take a look at both recent guides on the topic:

Question 5: What’s next for NVMe-oF?

Ethernet fabrics are becoming the “Universal Backplane” of the data center, unifying how storage is shared, composed, and managed at scale to meet the demands of increasingly varied applications and workloads.  In 2020, we’ll see increasing adoption of composable, disaggregated storage solutions that efficiently scale over ethernet fabrics and deliver the full performance potential of NVMe devices to diverse data center applications. Composable storage will significantly increase the agility and flexibility in how enterprises provision and optimize their data infrastructure to meet dynamic application requirements.

We’re going to continue sharing more about NVMe-oF and NVMe in the months ahead, and we invite you to join us for future webinars. Follow us @WesternDigiDC

[1] From Flash to Fabric  - Where the Date Center is Headed

Forward-Looking Statements:

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