• Home
  • About

    What’s Happening with 25GbE

    August 25th, 2014

    In July 2014, IEEE 802.3 voted to form a Study Group for 25Gb/s Ethernet.  There has been a lot attention in the networking press lately about 25Gb/s Ethernet, but many people are asking what is it and how did we get here.  After all, 802.3 already has completed standards for 40Gb/s and 100Gb/s and is currently working on 400Gb/s, so from a pure speed perspective, starting a 25Gb/s project now does look like a step backwards.

    (Warning: the following discussion contains excessive physical layer jargon.)

    The Sweet Spot

    25GbE as a port speed is attractive because it makes use of 25Gb/s per lane signaling technology that has been in development for years in the industry, culminating in the recent completion of 802.3bj, the standard for 100GbE over backplane or TwinAx copper that utilizes four parallel lanes of 25Gb/s signaling to achieve the 100Gb/s port speed. Products implementing 25Gb/s signaling in CMOS technology are just starting to come to market, and the rate will likely be a sweet spot for many years, as higher rate signaling of 40Gb/s or 50Gb/s is still in early technology development phases. The ability to implement this high speed I/O in CMOS is important because it allows combining high-speed I/O with many millions of logic gates needed to implement Ethernet switches, controllers, FPGAs, and microprocessors. Thus specifying a MAC rate of 25Gb/s to utilize 25Gb/s serdes technology can enable product developers to optimize for both the lowest cost/bit and the highest overall bandwidth utilization of the switching fabric.

    4-Lane to 1-Lane Evolution

    To see how we got here and why 25Gb/s is interesting, it is useful to back up a couple of generations and look at 10Gb/s and 40Gb/s Ethernet.  Earliest implementations of 10GbE relied on rather wide parallel electrical interfaces: XGMII and the 16-Bit interface.  Very soon after, however, 4-lane serdes-based interfaces became the norm starting with XAUI (for chip-to-chip and chip-to-optical module use) which was then adapted to longer reaches on TwinAx and backplane (10GBASE-CX4 and 10GBASE-KX4).  Preceding 10GbE achieving higher volumes (~2009) was the specification and technical feasibility of 10Gb/s on a single electrical serial lane. XFI was the first followed by 10GBASE-KR (backplane) and SFI (as an optical module interface and for direct attach TwinAx cable using the SFP+ pluggable form factor).  KR and SFI started to ramp around 2009 and are still the highest volume share of 10GbE ports in datacenter applications. The takeaway, in my opinion, is that single-lane interfaces helped the 10GbE volume ramp by reducing interconnect cost. Now look forward to 40GbE and 10GbE. The initial standard, 802.3ba, was completed in 2010.  So during the time that this specification was being developed, 10Gb/s serial interfaces were gaining traction, and consensus formed around the use of multiple 10Gb/s lanes in parallel to make the 40GbE and 100GbE electrical interfaces. For example, there is a great similarity between 10GBASE-KR, and one lane of the 40GBASE-KR4 four-lane interface. In a similar fashion 10Gb/s SFI for TwinAx  & optics in the SFP+ form factor is similar to a lane of the 40GbE equivalent interfaces for TwinAx and optics in the QSFP+ form factor.

    But how does this get to 25Gb/s?

    Due to the similarity in technology needed to make 10GbE and 40GbE, it has because a common feature in Ethernet switch and NIC chips to implement a four-lane port for 40GbE that can be configured to use each lane separately yielding four 10GbE ports.

    From there it is a natural extension that 100GbE ports being implemented using 802.3bj technology (4x25Gb/s) also can be configured to support four independent ports operating at 25Gb/s.  This is such a natural conclusion that multiple companies are implementing 25GbE even though it is not a standard.

    In some environments, the existence of a standard is not a priority.  For example, when a large-scale datacenter of compute, storage and networking is architected, owned and operated by one entity, that entity validates the necessary configuration to meet its requirements. For the broader market, however, there is typically a requirement for multi-vendor interoperability across a diverse set of configurations and uses. This is where Ethernet and IEEE 802.3 has provided value to the industry for over 30 years.

    Where’s the Application?

    Given the nature of their environment, it is the Cloud datacenter operators that are poised to be the early adopters of 25GbE. Will it also find a home in more traditional enterprise and storage markets? Time will tell, but in many environments ease of use, long shelf life, and multi-vendor interoperability are the priorities. For any environment, having the 25GbE specification maintained IEEE 802.3 will facilitate those needs.

    NVM Programming Model Recognized for Enterprise Business Innovation

    August 21st, 2014

    At the most recent Flash Memory Summit in August 2014, the SNIA NVM Programming Model was selected for a singular honor - industry recognition as a Best of Show for Enterprise Business Applications.  Being recognized was quite unique, as the Model is not a product or a solution as were other winners in the various categories; but rather a body of work that defines new software programming models for non-volatile memory, also known as NVM.

    NVM technologies are currently advancing in such a way as to blur the line between storage and memory – which will radically transform the way software is written. The NVM Programming Model embraces this transformation, describing behavior provided by operating systems that enables applications, file systems, and other software to take advantage of new NVM capabilities.

    The Model addresses NVM extensions for existing devices such as SSDs and persistent memory, describing the differences between software written for block storage (SSDs and disks) and persistent memory, and outlining the potential benefits for adapting software for persistent memory.

    In presenting the Award to Doug Voigt, co-chair of the SNIA NVM Programming Technical Work Group, Jay Kramer, Chairman of the Flash Memory Summit Awards Program and President of Network Storage Advisors Inc., stated,  “Flash memory technology is currently experiencing a progression of innovations that can make a real difference in solving storage solution challenges. The industry is seeing a proliferation of new Non–Volatile Memory (NVM) functionality and new NVM technologies.  We are proud to select the SNIA NVM Programming Model for the Best of Show Award as it brings to the marketplace a new standard with a model that defines recommended behavior between various user spaces and operating system (OS) kernel components supporting NVM.”

    Congratulations to the many SNIA member company contributors to the Programming Model for this honor!  For information and to download the specification, visit http://www.snia.org/forums/sssi/nvmp.



    Upcoming Webcast: Is FCoE the Answer to Data Center Agility?

    August 4th, 2014

    Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) has been growing in popularity year after year. From access layer, to multi-hop and beyond, FCoE has established itself as a true solution in the data center.

    Interested in learning how the Data Center is expanding with FCoE? Join us on August 20th, at 4:00 pm ET, 1:00 pm PT for our live Webcast, “Expanding the Data Center with FCoE.”  Continuing our conversation from our February Webcast, “Use Cases for iSCSI and FCoE,” which is now available on demand. This live SNIA Webcast examines the current state of FCoE and looks at how this protocol can expand the agility of the data center.

    • We’ll take an unbiased look at the data center using FCoE, covering:
    • The history and evolution of convergence
    • Using FCoE as a storage overlay
    • Single-hop, multi-hop and beyond
    • 40G/100G  – Where does it fit
    • Futures:
      • OpenStack
      • Defining Network Functions Virtualization (NFV)
      • Mapping NFV to FCoE
    • Real-world Use Cases

    This will be a vendor-neutral live presentation. Please join us on August 20th and bring your questions for our expert panel. Register now.




    Join the Solid State Storage Initiative August 4-7 at Flash Memory Summit 2014

    July 21st, 2014

    The SNIA and the Solid State Storage Initiative (SSSI) invite SNIA members and non-members alike to attend Flash Memory Summit 2014, August 4-7, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

    SNIA at Flash Memory Summit offers an all star keynote lineup, including SNIA Member companies Dell, Diablo, Fusion-io, IBM, Intel, Marvell, Micron, NetApp, PMC-Sierra, Samsung, and SanDisk.  SSSI members will lead panels and sessions on SSD, NVDIMM, and NVM Programming.

    A SNIA Education Day on Monday, August 4 in Room 203/204 of the Santa Clara Convention Center will feature award-winning SNIA Tutorials on Flash and Storage where attendees can learn about secure storage, SSD workload testing, benefits of Flash storage to the enterprise, PCI Express, and Flash storage architectures from SNIA member experts.  This Education Day is complimentary to all FMS attendees.

    Following the Education Day, all are welcome to attend a Solid State Storage Reception Monday evening from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm in Room 203/204 featuring updates on the solid state disk market, an NVDIMM presentation, and an NVM Programming Model overview.  Visit displays that highlight SNIA Solid State Initiative programs, including Non Volatile Memory Programming, Performance Testing,  and Workload I/O Capture.  Learn how you can participate in the exciting 2014 programs of the SSSI.

    A Non-Volatile DIMMs:  When Flash Isn’t Fast Enough Hands-On Lab presented by the NVDIMM SIG and SIG member companies AgigaTech, Netlist, and SMART Modular will illustrate how a category of NVDIMMs function in server and storage systems and how they can be integrated into a standard server platform.

    And don’t forget to stop by SNIA SSSI Booth 808 in the Exhibit Hall to check out  five static and two live NVDIMM displays and new whitepapers, brochures, and news on SSDs.

    Register now at www.flashmemorysummit.com

    Use the code “SNIA” to sign up today and receive $100 off Full Conference, 3-Day Conference, and One-Day Technical Program registration

    What a Solid State We Store In

    June 30th, 2014

    Note:  This blog entry is authored by SNIA Solid State Storage Initiative Governing Board member Gilda Fosswho serves on the SNIA Solid State Storage Initiative [SSSI] Governing Board as well as her role as Industry Evangelist in the CTO Office at NetApp, Inc

    Solid state drives use semiconductor chips, as opposed to magnetic media, to store data.  The chips that solid state drives use are non-volatile memory meaning that the data remains even when the system has no power.  I’ve written about solid state drive technology in the past and I will continue to, for it represents the first major advancement in primary storage in a very long time.  Serving on the Governing Board of the SNIA Solid State Storage Initiative, it allows me to help foster the growth and success of the market for solid state storage in both enterprise and client environments. Our goals are to be the recognized authority for storage made from solid state devices, to determine and document the characteristics of storage made from solid state devices, and to determine and document the impact of storage made from solid state devices on system architectures.

    So what can you expect if you were to ever upgrade to an SSD?  Well, for starters your computing experience will be transformed with screaming fast random access speeds, multi-tasking proficiency, as well as fantastic reliability and durability… and you can choose between an external SSD or even a hybrid drive so you’ve got some options.  A new SSD will make your system faster because the boot times will decrease, launching apps will be lightening fast, opening and saving docs will no longer drag, copying and duplicating file speeds will improve, and overall your system will have a new ‘pep in its step’.  Furthermore, to promote being green, SSDs consume far less power than traditional hard drives, which means they also preserve battery life and stay cooler.  Who doesn’t want and need that? They’re also very quiet, with none of the spinning and clanking you get with HDDs – for obvious reasons. SSDs are cooler and quieter, all the while being faster.

    Since modern SSDs are Flash-based, there is no real hard-defined difference between Flash and SSD.  Rather, as mentioned previously, Solid State Disk is essentially storage that doesn’t require moving parts and Flash is what allows that to exist.  SSDs use Flash instead of RAM these days, since it’s a type of memory that’s super fast and doesn’t require continuous power, making it non-volatile.  A match made in solid-state heaven.

    There are some fundamental aspects that folks expect from a robust flash-based storage solution.  First off, I/O performance and efficiency for many applications, including database acceleration, server and desktop virtualization, and cloud infrastructure.  You should also expect to speed up overall IT performance, boost responsiveness of performance-critical applications, and reduce power costs and over-provisioning.  Furthermore, you will obviously use more high-capacity, low-cost SATA drives while improving utilization of your data center space.  If you can achieve all your flash-based goals without changing your IT infrastructure management processes, then you’ve really got it good.

    Flash storage has customarily had substantial aging issues. In a nutshell, a user could only write to the memory a certain number of times before they would just lose that section of the drive coupled with the fact that performance would degrade over time, too.  However, a lot of these issues were resolved and companies started manufacturing SSDs out of Flash memory instead of out of RAM.

    I’ve stated in the past that many people in the industry believe that flash SSDs will eventually replace traditional hard drives.  By the time this happens other characteristics, such as slower write time and added cost, will likely have been eradicated or significantly diminished. Even today, an SSD can extend the life of a laptop battery, reduce the weight of the system, make it quieter, and increase read performance.  When properly and optimally engineered, SSDs are now at least as reliable as traditional spinning hard drives.  Relating to the faster speed, think of one starting up in seconds versus minutes. Even the slowest current SSD gives you much improved real-world performance than does the fastest conventional hard drive, perhaps even 100x as fast.  This allows for better user productivity, allowing for more work to get done in a fraction of the time.  Furthermore, using flash in enterprise storage servers means you can support more users, do more work, and use less power so it’s no wonder that it’s become an important technology for business transactions.   It’s a solid win-win-win.

    SSSI’s 2014 Mission

    This SNIA initiative was formed in September 2008 and its mission is to foster the growth and success of the market for solid state storage in both enterprise and client environments. Our goals are to be the recognized authority for storage made from solid state devices, to determine and document the characteristics of storage made from solid state devices, and to determine and document the impact of storage made from solid state devices on system architectures.  Additionally, the SSSI collects solid state technical requirements of storage system vendors and communicate to SSD manufacturers for common features, behavior, and robustness.  The initiative collaborates with academia and the research labs of member companies to understand how advances in solid state memory will impact storage made from solid state memory as well as to educate the vendor and user communities about storage made from solid state devices.

    The SNIA SSSI also coordinates education activities with the Education Committee, performs benchmark testing to highlight the performance advantages of solid state storage, create peer reviewed vendor neutral SNIA Tutorials, and create vendor-neutral demonstrations.  The SSI also leverages SNIA and partner conferences, collaborate with industry analysts, perform market outreach that highlights the virtues of storage made from solid state devices.  The initiative determines what technical work should be performed within SNIA technical working groups to further the acceptance of storage made from solid state devices.  Furthermore and very importantly, the SSSI determines the standards that will be necessary to support the industry usage of SSDs by performing interoperability plug-fests as necessary in support of standards development.

    Collaboration between other SNIA organizations is also key.  The SSSI works with the Storage Management Initiative (SMI) to understand how SMI-S can be used to manage storage made from solid state devices.  We also work with the Green Storage Initiative (GSI) to understand how storage made from solid state devices will impact energy use in computer systems.  The work that the SSI does with the Technical Council helps create the desired technical working groups and provides external advocacy and support of these technical working groups.

    Finally, the SSSI collaborates with other industry associations via SNIA’s Strategic Alliances Committee (SAC) on SSD-related technical work in which they are involved as well as coordinates with SNIA Regional Affiliates to ensure that the impact of the SSS Initiative is felt worldwide.  For more information, please visit http://www.snia.org/forums/sssi

    Object Storage 101 – Questions and Answers

    June 19th, 2014

    At our recent live ESF Webcast, “Object Storage 101,” we talked about the what, how, and why behind storage technologies. Over 200 people attended the event. If you missed it, it’s now available on-demand. It was an interactive session and we did not have time to address all the questions, so here are answers to them all. If you think of additional questions, please feel free to comment on this blog.

    Q. Would Object Storage be a feasible solution for only the nearline storage tier?

    Typically Yes. If we think about the latency needed for real-time transactions, these are best served using a cache storage tier such as NAND or large arrays of RAM. Object stores are excellent methods to store and retrieve large data sets within single/multiple containers. Note: most systems support offset reads so you don’t need to access an entire object to get to the section of interest.

    Q. Where is the index to find the location of an object that is stored? Is it stored locally or stored distributedly or replicated among each clusters?

    Storage of the Index or Metadata of objects that are stored, if used, typically is replicated throughout the system. Also, if the Metadata is lost, typically, these can be re-built as a maintenance function.

    Q. How is the object stored/broken up? Aside from being stored by metadata (like name, size, etc) … what is the process of the fragmentation…breaking it up …as described during this erasure coding segment?  Once it’s assigned some unique identifier … ie. an x-ray picture…. how is it addressed? (if not by block/bit/byte/level)?

    Currently, Objects are stored using one of two methods of data protection either Replication or Erasure Coding. Some systems use both. That said, there are several algorithms used today to Erasure Code protect Objects. When using Reed-Solomon methods, you need to specify the number of “Data” Fragments and the number of the “Parity” fragments that will be created. The Size of each “Data” fragment is closely related to the Object size divided by the number of “Data” fragments requested. Each “Parity” fragment will be same size of each of the “Data” fragments created. The protected Object size is the sum of the “Data” fragments plus the “Parity” fragments created. Each of these fragments (Data and Parity) is stored on a different server for the purpose of avoiding a single point failure. The application that created the Object that will be accessing the Object store is responsible for keeping track of the ID of the Object and the Namespace the ID was stored in. Typically the Application will create an ID however, when an Application “Puts” an Object using an existing ID, the older stored Object using that same ID is overwritten. Typically, access into an Object Store using a RESTful Interface using commands like “Put, Get, Delete, List” over HTTP.

    Q. Will Object storage drive network scale—further adoption of 10GE and 40GE or is 1GE enough?

    Yes. If we think about the interconnection between the Control Plane and Data Plane of these systems (Orchestration and Object Storage Devices), better the connectivity the higher the performance.

    Q. Is the number of fragments set or configurable?  What are the trade-offs of requiring fewer fragments for recovery besides perhaps processing overhead?  Are there any gotchas to watch out for/consider?

    Yes. Storage policies are configurable. The number of “Parity” fragments defines the data loss risk. The more “Parity” fragments requested the lower this risk but this increases the storage resource needed for the Object. Eliminating single point failures is a key consideration. For example, if your Object Storage system has 10 servers, a storage policy using 9 of 12 will have 2 fragments of this Object located on 2 servers. In this case any single server failure would not cause data loss but may cause higher latency. However, if 3 servers would fail, you would lose access to your data until the servers were recovered. If the drives of the failed servers were not recovered then data loss would occur.

    Q. Is erasure encoding used instead of Hash tagging?

    No. Hash Tagging is a method of generating a unique number given a specific input of data, this number is used to find the location of the Object to be stored. Erasure Coding is the method used to create the fragments. So think of Hash tag as the seed to the address needed to find the fragments.

    Q. How large are the fragments?

    A rough estimate is the Object size divided by the number of fragments to re-hydrate the object. (e.g. 1GByte Object stored using a 8 of 12 policy would have a fragment size of 1GByte/8 =~ 125MByte

    Q. What do you see as the requirement for the interconnect between the Object storage arrays/boxes to be? Very large pipes as in multiple 40G links or something lower?

    It depends on the use case or Service Level Objective for the system. If your system design uses a Proxy service and Erasure Coding, then your back end network throughput (the network connecting the Proxy and Object Storage Devices – Storage Servers) will aggregated (Multiply). In this case the network throughput is based on the number of “Data” fragments being used. If you use Replication, then the back end network throughput will not aggregate. This multiplication factor, if present, is key to an efficient network strategy. In Non-Proxy based Object Storage designs or replication based Object Storage systems the network strategy will scale with network bandwidth to the limitation of the HDDs ability to server data.

    Q. What about access control and security at the object level?  Is that typically part of the model?

    Typically, access control methods are at the gateway or entry point of a Namespace. The access method used is up to the vendor of the Object Store.

    Q. What is the presentation mode at the host level? i.e. a drive mapping or similar

    Typically presentation methods are a RESTful API via HTTP. This used “PUT, GET, DELETE, LIST” semantics.

    Q. Can you explain the differences/similarities between object storage, CDMI and software defined storage?

    Object Stooge defined a system (Software + Hardware) to storage Objects. CDMI defends a method used to access/connect your application to an Object Storage system. Software Defined Storage describes using standard high volume servers with software for the purpose of storing data.

    Q. Why can’t a traditional approach be used to Object Storage for its durability?

    Traditional storage approaches such as direct attached storage (RAID Sets) do not scale. Once you run out of space, managing additional storage on separate systems becomes the issue.

    Q. Aren’t all types of data going to need the accessibility required by users? For example, isn’t everything going to need to placed in an object store?

    There is a lot of debate on this issue. The goal of an Object Store is two fold. 1) Drive down the cost/Byte and 2) keep content readily accessible.

    Q. How to we avoid losing the Metadata from the data? Also, is there something like sub-meta data, where a small amount of Metadata is contained within the data and the larger Metadata is stored somewhere else?

    Some Object storage systems support Extended File Attributes, which is a file system feature that allows the Applications to store “Metadata” about an Object which is then bound to the Object within the storage environment. These Extended File Attributes (XATTR’s) can be queried separately and can be used by your application as you see fit. The management of the XATTR’s is handled by the local file system and accessed by the Object Storage software via the RESTful API using HTTP.

    Q. Is maintaining multiple copies mainly for durability or can it be used for performance enhancement (parallel access), or is that irrelevant?

    Absolutely!  Management of copies/replicas can serve multiple purposes.  Replication across racks, datacenters, geographies, etc. can provide resiliency against failures at those levels.  Replication can also be used to provide object access in close proximity to the requester.  In the X-ray example discussed in the Webcast, we might set up a replica local to the medical practice for the first 90 days, in order to provide a low latency (time to first byte) copy during the initial treatment.  Additional copies can be kept at remote sites in order to provide fault tolerance.

    Q. Is there a standard methodology for migrating from a file-system based methodology to an object store?

    The short answer is no.  In general an application that is currently developed to use file or block based storage will need to be re-architected in order to take advantage of an object storage system/service.  There is, however, a growing category of products referred to as “cloud gateways” that can provide a bridge to object storage by presenting a filesystem to the existing application, while writing and reading via a RESTful API to a backend object storage system/service.

    Q. Is it safe to say that in order to use object storage the application needs to be “object storage aware”? Unlike a traditional storage where the application doesn’t necessarily need to be familiar with the storage or file system since that is handled at a lower layer.

    Yes, however as indicated in the question regarding migration of applications above, it is possible to implement a “cloud gateway” solution that will provide the translation from RESTful API to a CIFS/NFS fileshare, thus not requiring any application changes.  I would disagree with the premise that traditional applications don’t need to be familiar with the underlying storage.  Traditional file-based applications must understand the location (fileserver, folder, filename, etc.) in order to gain access to the appropriate data.

    Q. I’m hearing a lot of ‘what’ and ‘how’ but not so much ‘why’ about object storage. Can we hear some real-world examples of applications in industry today that are running better because of object storage?

    An example of an application running today with object storage behind it, and why:  Web Based Media Asset Management/Distribution.  This particular use case tends to deal with billions of files/objects that can vary in size from very small thumbnail images to massive 4k HD movie files.  The ability to deliver these to multiple platforms (phone, laptop, set top box, etc.) across multiple geographies is something that is well suited for object storage.  Traditional file and/or block based storage environments may hit scale limitations in dealing with the number of files/objects, in addition the ability to have a single namespace maintained across multiple locations/datacenters is something that is exceedingly complex for storage environments other than object stores.

    Q. Replicating an object two or three times would exponentially increase storage costs, wouldn’t it?  The more copies the higher the costs?

    Certainly more copies would use more storage, and as a result most object stores provide different durability schemes based upon the performance/availability tradeoffs the data owner is willing to make.  Recovering a single object from a replica is significantly faster than rebuilding an object from geo-distributed EC fragments. Also, as discussed in the question above related to replicas to drive performance, replication can serve the purpose of placing objects as close to the consumer as possible, minimizing time to first bye and increasing the overall throughput of an application.

    Q. If I have an app that access a CIFS share, is there a way to translate it into object store?

    Please see answer to question: “Is there a standard methodology for migrating from a file-system based methodology to an object store?” Short answer: Yes, via a “cloud gateway” product.

    Q. Is there a confluence point of Object and File based storage – specifically in NAS where object storage can be multi-protocol (NFS, and REST)?

    While there are some object storage solutions that provide their own native cloud-gateway capability (NAS protocol to the application, RESTful API to the object store).  There are very few that provide a “file/object duality” capability allowing applications to manipulate an object as both an object and a file.


















    M.2 Webcast – Get the Latest Info on the New SSD Card Form Factor!

    June 10th, 2014

    The SNIA Solid State Storage Initiative is partnering with SATA-IO and NVM Express to present a panel of experts from Objective Analysis, Micron, TE Connectivity, Intel, Calypso, and Coughlin Associates to give you the latest information on M.2, the new SSD card form factor. You will leave this webinar with an understanding of the M.2 market, M.2 cards and connection schemes, NVM Express, and M.2 performance; you’ll also be able to ask questions of the experts.

    Join us on June 10, 2014 at 10:00 am.  Register at http://snia.org/news_events/multimedia#webcasts!

    It’s “All About M.2 SSDs” In a New SSSI Webcast June 10

    June 4th, 2014

    Interested in M.2, the new SSD card form factor?

    The SNIA Solid State Storage Initiative is partnering with SATA-IO and NVM Express to give you the latest information on M.2, the new SSD card form factor.  Join us “live” on Tuesday, June 10, at 10:00 am Pacific time/1:00 pm Eastern time.

    Hear from a panel of experts, including Tom Coughlin of Coughlin Associates, Jim Handy of Objective Analysis, Jon Tanguy of Micron, Jaren May of TE Connectivity, David Akerson of Intel, and Eden Kim of Calypso Systems.  You will leave this webinar with an understanding of the M.2 market, M.2 cards and connection schemes, NVM Express, and M.2 performance. You’ll also be able to ask questions of the experts.

    You can access this webcast via the internet.  Click here, or visit http://snia.org/news_events/multimedia#webcasts

    Hear the Latest on UltraDIMM SSDs Monday June 9 at 4:00 pm PDT

    June 3rd, 2014

    Join the SNIA Solid State Storage Initiative for an “open-to-all interested” PCIe SSD Committee call and a discussion on UltraDIMM SSDs.

    SSSI member Rob Callaghan of SanDisk will discuss:

    * What is an UltraDIMM SSD?
    * How is it different from other SSDs?
    * How does a Block IO SSD reside on a DIMM channel?
    * Do I need to modify/update my BIOS to use it?
    * How many do I use, and what is the scalability?
    * What kind of performance can I expect to get?
    * What is the cost benefit of using this technology?
    * What applications will benefit from using an UltraDIMM SSD?

    Below are the dial-in and WebEx details.  Eden Kim and the PCIe SSD Committee hope you will join the SSSI for this interesting topic!

    UltraDIMM Discussion

    Monday June 9, 2014 at 4PM PDT

    Log in to:  snia.webex.com Meeting Number: 792 152 928 password:  sssipcie

    Dial-in to: Teleconference: 1-866-439-4480 Passcode: 57236696#

    Ethernet Meets Enterprise Storage – Finally

    May 27th, 2014

    Presumptuous, yes, because Ethernet has been a mainstay in enterprises since its early days over 40 years ago.  It initially grew to prominence as the local area network (LAN) connection in the enterprise. More recent advances have enabled Ethernet to become a standard for mission critical storage connectivity for block, file and object storage in many enterprises.

    Block storage in large enterprises has long been focused on Fibre Channel due to its performance capabilities.   In order to bring the same performance benefits to Ethernet, the IEEE 802.1 Data Center Bridging Task Group proposed a number of new standards to enhance Ethernet reliability.  For example, 802.1Qbb Priority-based Flow Control (PFC) provides a link level flow control mechanism to ensure lossless transmission under congestion, 802.1Qaz Enhanced Transmission Selection (ETS) provides a management framework for prioritized bandwidth and Data Center Bridging Exchange Protocol (DCBX) enabled these features to be used between neighbors to ensure consistency on the network. Collectively, these and other enhancements have brought those enterprise-class storage networking features to the Ethernet platform.

    In addition, the International Committee for Information Technology Services (INCITS) T11 Fibre Channel committee developed a specification for Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) in its FC-BB-5 standard in 2009, which allows the Fibre Channel protocol to run directly on top of Ethernet, eliminating the TCP/IP stack and allowing for efficient performance of the Fibre Channel protocol.  FCoE also depends on the Data Center Bridging standards from IEEE 802.1 in order to ensure the “losslessness” and flow control needed by Fibre Channel.

    An alternative to FCoE, iSCSI, was designed to run over standard Ethernet with TCP/IP and was designed to tolerate the “lossy” aspects of Ethernet.  Its architecture and the additional layers of encapsulation involved can impact latency and performance. However, more recent innovations in iSCSI have enabled it to run over a DCB Ethernet network, which enables iSCSI to inherit some of the enterprise storage features which have always been inherent in Fibre Channel.  For more on this, read last year’s blog “How DCB Makes iSCSI Better ” from Allen Ordoubadian.

    In 2013, INCITS submitted the FC-BB-6 standard for review which introduced, among other things, the VN2VN standard.  The VN2VN proposal will allow FCoE to work in a standard DCB switching environment without the presence of a Fibre Channel Forwarder (FCF).  An FCF allows for bridging between servers which are communicating with FCoE and storage devices which are communicating with traditional Fibre Channel.  As DCB switches and FCoE storage become more prevalent, the FC-BB-6 standard will allow for end-to-end FCoE connectivity in either a point to point (P2P) or DCB mesh environment. This will result in lower cost for FCoE environments. Products are beginning to appear which support VN2VN and over the next 18 months it is likely that all major vendors will support it. Check out our ESF Webcast “How VN2VN Will Help Accelerate Adoption of FCoE” for more details.

    The availability of CNAs with processing capability allows for offloading storage protocol processing from the host processor, though some CNAs use host-based storage protocol initiators in system software and do selective stateless offloads in the data path.  Both FCoE and iSCSI require the storage protocol to be encapsulated in a frame to be sent across the Ethernet network.  In an enterprise environment, especially a virtual server environment, CPU utilization is tracked closely and target CPU thresholds are often set.  Anything which can minimize spikes in CPU utilization can allow for more workloads to be placed on servers and allows for predictable energy consumption.

    For file storage, Ethernet has traditionally been the connectivity option of choice for file servers used as “shares” for centralized employee document storage. In the 21st century, usage of network attached storage (NAS) with the Network File System (NFS) has increased for enterprise databases and Hadoop clusters, especially with the availability of 10Gb Ethernet.  New features in NFS 4 and later introduced security and stateful protocol support after development of NFS was taken over by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

    Object storage, has been around for nearly 20 years as a repository for storing data as objects which include not only the original file, but also a globally unique identifier and metadata which describes the object and various parameters about the object.  It has been used to store many forms of unstructured data, but found niches in certain areas, such as legal documents with retention policies and archiving photos and videos.  More recently, there seems to be a resurgence in object storage as the amount of unstructured data generated by enterprises continues to skyrocket.  Open source object storage in Ceph and OpenStack are also helping to drive the adoption. SNIA ESF is hosting a live Webcast on object storage on June 11, 2014, called “Object Storage 101.” I encourage you to register for this presentation for an unbiased look at the what, how and why of object storage technologies.

    When combined with the advances in link speed, throughput capabilities, latency and input/output operations per second (IOPS) in modern 10Gb/s and 40Gb/s Ethernet, these existing and emerging Ethernet standards and storage architectures are having a profound effect on the ability of Ethernet as an enterprise class storage networking platform.  Vendors and customers are seeing the advantage in one wire, the Ethernet cable, carrying all LAN, WAN and storage traffic.