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    Why is Blockchain Storage Different?

    November 19th, 2017

    The SNIA Ethernet Storage Forum (ESF), specifically ESF Vice Chair, Alex McDonald, spent Halloween explaining storage requirements for modern transactions in our webcast, “Transactional Models & Their Storage Requirements.” Starting with the fascinating history of the first transactional system in a bakery in 1951 (really!), to a discussion on Bitcoin, it was an insightful look at the changing role of storage amid modern transactions. If you missed it, you can watch it on-demand at your convenience. We received some great questions during the live event. Here are answers to them all:

    Q. How many nodes are typical in the blockchain ledger?

    A. As many as are required to ensure that a single node or small number of nodes can’t crack the hard problem that gives you the right to add your blockchain as the next. There are estimated to be more than 11,000 Bitcoin nodes right now (see https://bitnodes.earn.com/), but not all blockchain systems have as many nodes (or such a hard problem to crack!)

    Q. A traditional DB like Oracle…how does it fit into CAP? What two features would it have?

    A. A traditional database doesn’t have an unreliable geographically spread network connecting parts of the database (or at least, it shouldn’t). The CAP theorem (Consistency, Availability & Partition tolerance – pick any two from three) doesn’t apply to traditional databases like Oracle. These kinds of systems provide ACIDity; Wikipedia has an excellent article on the subject.

    Q. Is block same as node? I thought each node has a copy of each block.

    A. That’s correct. Ledger transactions and blocks get distributed to all the nodes, and every node has a copy of the entire blockchain.

    Q. Hey! Bitcoin isn’t just limited to criminals! C’mon!

    A. Blockchain is more than cryptocurrencies, and is increasingly important for legit businesses too. For instance, just this week American Express Is Getting Into Blockchain-Based Payments With Ripple. Other applications across a broad range are being introduced; in healthcare for instance, for digital identity, smart contracts and digital voting to name a few.

    Q. Why is blockchain storage different from more regular storage we might have today?

    A. Let’s take the example of a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. Blockchain ledgers are transactional in nature. So if I have 200 transactions in my wallet, they are spread across all the blockchains where they are recorded, and there isn’t a central value of what’s in my wallet. To get that, I need to add up all the wallet transactions recorded in every blockchain; and the blockchains can be pretty big. The Bitcoin blockchain is more than 140GB as of November 2017, and growing. That demands fast (both high bandwidth and low latency) storage; in memory as much as possible, with Flash based SSD for persistence. Other blockchain technologies will have equivalent or even more demanding requirements.

    If you have questions about this topic, please comment on this blog below. And if you’re interested in more vendor-neutral education on storage topics, check out the full library of SNIA ESF webcasts where we cover all thing related to Ethernet storage, including block, file and object storage, RDMA and NVMe over Fabrics, storage performance benchmarking, containers and our very popular 101 series “Everything You Wanted To Know About Storage But Were Too Proud To Ask.” Happy viewing!


    A Q&A on Storage Management – These Folks Weren’t Too Proud to Ask!

    October 26th, 2017
    The most recent installment of our SNIA ESF webcast series “Everything You Wanted To Know About Storage But Were Too Proud To Ask” took on a broad topic – storage management. Our experts, Richelle Ahlvers, Mark Rogov and Alex McDonald did a great job explaining the basics and have now answered the questions that attendees asked here in this blog. If you missed the live webcast, check it out on-demand and download a copy of the slides if you’d like to take notes.  Continue Reading...

    Storage for Transactional Systems: From Banking to Facebook

    October 5th, 2017
    We’re all accustomed to transferring money from one bank account to another; a credit to the payer becomes a debit to the payee. But that model uses a specific set of sophisticated techniques to accomplish what appears to be a simple transaction. Today, we’re also well acquainted with ordering goods online, reserving an airline seat over the Internet, or simply updating a photograph on Facebook. Can these applications use the same banking models, or are new techniques required? It’s a question we’ll tackle at our next Ethernet Storage Forum webcast on October 31st “Transactional Models & Their Storage Requirements.”  Continue Reading...

    Comparing iSCSI, iSER, and NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF): Ecosystem, Interoperability, Performance, and Use Cases

    August 17th, 2017
    iSCSI is one of the most broadly supported storage protocols, but traditionally has not been associated with the highest performance. Newer protocols like iSER and NVMe over Fabrics promise extreme performance but are still maturing and lack the broad feature and platform support of iSCSI. Storage vendors and customers face interesting tradeoffs and options when evaluating how to achieve the highest block storage performance on Ethernet networks, while preserving the major software and hardware investment in iSCSI.  Continue Reading...

    Too Proud to Ask Webcast Series Opens Pandora’s Box – Storage Management

    August 11th, 2017
    Storage can be something of a “black box,” a monolithic entity that is at once mysterious and scary. That’s why we created “The Everything You Wanted To Know About Storage But Were Too Proud to Ask” webcast series. So far, we’ve explored various and sundry aspects of storage, focusing on “the naming of the parts.” Our goal has been to break down some of the components of storage and explain how they fit into the greater whole. On September 28th, we’ll be hosting “Everything You Wanted To Know About Storage But Were Too Proud To Ask – Part Cyan – Storage Management.” This time, we’re going to open up Pandora’s Box and peer inside the world of storage management, uncovering some of the key technologies that are used to manage devices, storage traffic, and storage architectures. In particular, we’ll be discussing:  Continue Reading...

    Q&A – When Compute, Networking and Storage Intersect

    July 18th, 2017
    In Part Vermillion of our SNIA Ethernet Storage Forum (ESF) “Everything You Wanted To Know About Storage But Were Too Proud To Ask” webcast series – we examined the terms and concepts are at the heart of where compute, networking and storage intersect. That’s why we called it “What if Programming and Networking Had a Storage Baby” If you missed the live webcast, you can watch it on-demand. The discussion from our panel of experts generated a lot of good questions. As promised, here are answers to them all.   Continue Reading...

    The Too Proud to Ask Train Makes Another Stop: Where Does My Data Go?

    June 22nd, 2017
    By now, we at the SNIA Storage Ethernet Storage Forum (ESF) hope you are familiar with (perhaps even a loyal fan of) the “Everything You Wanted To Know About Storage But Were Too Proud To Ask,” popular webcast series. On August 1st, the “Too Proud to Ask” train will make another stop. In this seventh session, “Everything You Wanted to Know About Storage But Were Too Proud To Ask: Turquoise – Where Does My Data Go?, we will take a look into the mysticism and magic of what happens when you send your data off into the wilderness. Once you click “save,” for example, where does it actually go?  Continue Reading...

    An FAQ to Make Your Storage System Hum

    May 23rd, 2017
    In our most recent “Everything You Wanted To Know About Storage But Were Too Proud To Ask” webcast series – Part Sepia – Getting from Here to There, we discussed terms and concepts that have a profound impact on storage design and performance. If you missed the live event, I encourage you to check it our on-demand. We had many great questions on encapsulation, tunneling, IOPS, latency, jitter and quality of service (QoS). As promised, our experts have gotten together to answer them all.  Continue Reading...

    What if Programming and Networking Had a Storage Baby? Say What?

    May 18th, 2017
    The colorful “Everything You Wanted To Know About Storage But Were Too Proud To Ask,” popular webcast series marches on! In this 6th installment, Part – Vermillion – What if Programming and Networking Had a Storage Baby, we look into some of the nitties and the gritties of storage details that are often assumed. When looking at data from the lens of an application, host, or operating system, it’s easy to forget that there are several layers of abstraction underneath each before the actual placement of data occurs. In this webcast we are going to scratch beyond the first layer to understand some of the basic taxonomies of these layers.  Continue Reading...

    SMB3 – These Questions Rock!

    April 24th, 2017
    Earlier this month, the SNIA Ethernet Storage Forum hosted a live webcast on Server Message Block (SMB), “Rockin’ and Rollin’ with SMB3.” Presenting was Ned Pyle, Microsoft SMB Program Manager. If you missed the live event, I encourage you to watch it on-demand. We had a lot of questions from the big audience this event drew, so as promised, here are answers to them all. Q. Other than that audit setup, is there a way to determine, via the OS, which SMB version is in use?  Continue Reading...