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Memory advances next step in flash development

Even as the technology evolves, there are factors to consider beyond technical capabilities before investing resources in a low-latency next-gen flash storage network.

Jeff Rowe | Nov 05, 2017 11:00 pm

Flash storage has radically changed the IT landscape, but what’s next?

That’s the question Scott Sinclair, storage analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Austin, Texas, asked recently in a column at TechTarget.

His answer? “Nonvolatile memory express, or NVMe storage, is one technology to watch.”

In his view, the key to understanding data needs is to consider the entire data path. “Applications demand processing -- typically in the form of servers -- and access to data via reads and writes across some sort of interconnect or storage network to a storage device. That model is overly simplistic, but it helps illustrate my point. With spinning disk technology, the storage device was often the bottleneck in the data path.”

Flash storage fixed that.  Or, rather, Sinclair says, while with flash the storage device was no longer slowing down the rest of the data path, leading to a surge in performance and utilization, what really happened was the bottleneck was moved to a different spot on the data path.

And, in his view, NVMe can address that because, unlike current SCSI technology, NVMe storage “can take advantage of the low latency and internal parallelism inherent to flash storage.” Consequently, “IT shops that wish to maximize the value of their flash storage investments should look at integrating NVMe storage technology into their storage networks.”

There are, however, some considerations to bear in mind as IT managers consider their next steps.  For example, the current configuration of skills on an IT team loom large with these kinds of transitions.  “There are limits to what you can accomplish with retraining,” Sinclair warns. “The addition of NVMe can help eliminate the need for complex diagnosis of performance issues, but familiarity with the network architecture is key to ensuring an agile and resilient architecture.”

Others considerations, he says, such as systems manageability, analytics and bandwidth, revolve around technical or vendor-specific options. 

Nonetheless, at least as one expert sees it, “for enterprises seeking to get the most out of flash storage, an investment in NVMe technology is becoming a foregone conclusion.”