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Technical Insight: Networking The Next Generation of Enterprise Storage: NVMe Fabrics

Emerging storage protocols known as NVMe enable next generation non-volatile storage products to deliver performance and economic benefits required by future cloud and enterprise applications. This paper covers the emerging generations of NVMe Fabrics.

by Russ Fellows

Network accessible, shared storage has been a significant factor in the rise of enterprise storage systems that have proliferated over the past twenty years. To many, networked storage is synonymous with SAN or Storage Area Networks particularly for accessing block storage. Originally SAN’s were Fibre Channel only, but with the advent of iSCSI and other Ethernet based storage protocols, the definition of a SAN now includes other networking types – NVMe Fabrics.

The benefits of shared, networked storage are well understood by IT architects and administrators, often with new storage purchases requiring support for shared network access via Fibre Channel or Ethernet based SAN technologies. With new storage technologies emerging, IT architects are once again exploring how to network the next generation of storage products, without loosing the features they rely upon to provide the always on infrastructure required by enterprise and cloud environments. New, high-speed storage technologies require a network that can support both high data transfer rates and high I/O rates with minimal overhead.

New storage technologies will require an enterprise class network capable of providing shared access to storage, with all the resiliency, security and manageability features that enterprise IT professionals have come to expect.   Emerging storage protocols known as NVMe enable next generation non-volatile storage products to deliver performance and economic benefits required by future cloud and enterprise applications.

These next generation storage systems will require new storage networks to support their full potential. In this paper we explore the important characteristics of NVMe storage products, and the storage network options required to support these developing products and technologies.

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