back to article NetApp goes all in on Fibre Channel-based NVMe-over-Fabrics

NetApp has announced a real biggie for storage wonks: support for Fibre Channel-based NVMe-over-Fabrics (FC-NVMe) access to all-flash ONTAP arrays using Brocade gear. The firm also released a faster flash array, deeper public-private cloud integration, plus an object storage update. NetApp claimed it now has the first …

  1. WYSIWYG650

    The Street noticed...

    It looks like we can no longer call NetApp the under dog. Based on the current share price Wall Street sees NetApp's vision and ability to execute against it. Name any other storage vendor with native data pathways in and out of the cloud like this? They make it easy to get in to the cloud but that also works both ways, sometimes you want to bring it in and avoid or at least minimize the egress taxes... They finally have products and unique functionality to support the data fabric story.

  2. JohnMartin

    NetApp really does have the first enterprise class end-to-end NVMe offering

    It's a minor point, but IBM doesn't have end to end NVMe in it's flash system products because their proprietary flash modules dont use NVMe, and the winner of the "we built it first" bragging rights still goes to NetApp because the EF570 announced NVMe over infiniband support a month or two ahead of IBM

    Of course the creators of DSSD deserve a lot of kudos for doing a lot of early work in this area and releasing a product, but it was for a fairly niche HPC style use-case which required special software to be installed on hosts, proprietary interconnects etc which made if unsuitable for the vast majority of enterprise use cases. The same could be argued to a lesser extent for the EF570 and IBM infiniband based NMVeF implementations too. Great for HPC where Infiniband rules, but less so for the enterprise where Fibre Channel dominates.

    The key here is that for anyone with Gen-6 Fibre channel (released in 2016, so there's a decent number of datacenters already running Gen-6 gear) can immediately start using NVMeF to ONTAP 9.4 based arrays with Gen-6 FC cards in them, (including the A300, A700) which will reduce the CPU load on the hosts from I/O and give a tidy improvement in overall latency. Furthermore if you want the goodness of full end-to-end NVMe to get those final hundred or two microseconds of latency improvement, the AF800 will give that to you today. Given that the A700 with SAS connected SSD easily outperformed the top-end array from a competitor using NVMe connected SSD's, this should put the A800 firmly in the lead as the fastest enterprise class array in the market.

    1. returnofthemus

      It's a minor point....

      Since when did the NVMe protocol dictate the use of SSDs, as opposed to custom-built flash chips, which already inherit the characteristics to deliver improved performance and lower latency, not only a minor point, but also totally irrelevent.

      That said, I'm genuinely pleased that NetApp have finally found something to crow about, however short-lived.

      Certainly more refreshing than listening to the Orange people drooling over Blade Servers.

      1. JohnMartin

        It's a minor point ..

        1. When NVMe was being designed, it was designed quite specifically to be a way of communicating with devices not raw chips, so If your definition of SSD = Solid State Device, then NVMe pretty much does need an SSD.

        https://www.snia.org/sites/default/education/tutorials/2012/fall/solid/AnilVasudeva_NVMe_NextGen_SSD%20Interface-r1-nc1.pdf

        Of course you could do a bunch of custom work by mooching together some NAND and an FPGA or an ASIC to implement the firmware that interprets the commands coming down from NVMe and then passes that onto the a media handler to actually do actual I/O to the chips .. (with NAND thats a flash translation layer), and then put the SERDES bits in and the connector to hook it onto a PCI bus .. but at that point what you have is an SSD with an NVMe interface.

        If your definition of SSD = Solid State Disk .. ie the packaging format that looks a lot like an old school SAS / SATA dieks drive, then no there is nothing in NVMe that dictates the use of that format, its just an incredibly practical way of deploying solid state devices because it works with all the existing electrical and materials handling stuff (like hot swap in a drive enclosure) most datatcenters rely on

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