• Home
  • About

    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.

    Q. With regard to persistent memory, how does one decide if it’s better to use load/store or access via I/O?

    A. Legacy applications will not change and hence will access the persistent memory the way they were written. If your legacy application needs a lot of memory and you want to use the new persistent memory as just a big and cheap (volatile) memory, then the access will be byte addressable (load/store). If your legacy application uses block storage then it will use the persistent memory using block addressing. New applications can take advantage of using byte addressing and persistency. They can keep all their data structures in memory, and these data structures will also be persistent! This saves applications the need to serialize before storing and to de-serialize when retrieving from storage and enables many other ways to optimize the software.

    Q. Can you go over again a bit more slowly how byte accessible and LBA change with persistent memory?

    A. Persistent memory can be accessed in three different ways.

    1. Using byte addressing, in which case it behaves like a big (volatile) memory
    2. Using logical block addressing, in which case it behaves like a block storage device
    3. Using SNIA NVM Programming Model that enable byte addressing along with persistency. In this case byte being written into the device can be made persistent with special APIs

    You can configure and decide what model is better use for your application.

    Q. Is that like flash?

    A. Persistent memory is a technology that is persistent like flash, but has byte addressing. It can be implemented using underlying flash, battery backed DRAM, Phase Change Memory and more.

    Q. You were going to parse out flash vs. NVMe, I think. Also, how will the elements discussed during the session impact these evolving technologies?

    A. Flash is a non-volatile memory technology that supports block addressing.

    PCM is another non-volatile technology which is newer that supports byte addressing (which implies that it can also do block addressing by emulation). NVMe describes an interface to access non-volatile memory technology, by placing the non-volatile memory over the PCI bus. Storage Class Memory is yet another interface to access non-volatile memory, by placing the non-volatile memory over the memory bus.

    With this in mind:

    1) It is common to see NVMe devices with backing flash devices. They will support block addressable. They have the option to expose a small byte addressable memory buffer as well on the PCI (typically a DRAM), which may or may not be volatile.

    2) It is common to see Storage Class Memory with backing PCM device, or with DRAM (that can backup itself to flash on power failure). They will support byte addressable.

    Q. Regarding SMB & CIFS protocols, is SMB or CIFS the deprecated one?

    A. The name CIFS hasn’t been used in a while; it’s now all SMB. SMB version1 is deprecated; see this Microsoft article. Don’t use CIFS!

    Q. Are there any rules of thumb in regards to the efficiency of block vs. file vs. object stores from the storage capacity overhead and network “busyness”?

    A. Effectively, as you get closer to the lower-level block storage devices, your storage networking architecture needs to become more deterministic. That is, you begin to start caring more about the number of hosts connecting to a particular storage target (fan-in ratio) and the ratio of bandwidth the target has compared to the bandwidth that the hosts connecting to it have (oversubscription).

    Highly-transactional block storage protocols, such as Fibre Channel, FCoE and lossless iSCSI, for example, will need to have very low oversubscription ratios (sometimes as low as 4:1, depending on the type of application/workload). Most are somewhat more forgiving, and 16:1 and 20:1 are not uncommon. When you move into file-based systems, that oversubscription can be a lot higher (there is no general rule of thumb here, but the oversubscription can be in the low hundreds:1). Object-based systems are so scaled and distributed, that there really are no oversubscription limits at all, because those systems are not highly transactional.

    Q. Does an object always have to be replaced in entirety? How do systems handle updates to large objects?

    A. The rule is that you shouldn’t take a lock on an object. Classically, the whole object should be replaced. Updating is not straightforward.

    Traditional “get/release” locking is too expensive in terms of latency over geographic distances, too hard to manage in a distributed environment, is hard to scale, needs recovery in the case of failure, and introduces state to what is basically storage built for stateless operations. Plus, the object may be sharded across multiple physical systems.

    Some object systems do allow what they call “pessimistic locking” (take a lock for a fixed period of time, say 10 seconds) but it’s not a true lock that you obtain then release. It’s more like a window of opportunity and is often called, and acts like, a lease. There are also other techniques, like “optimistic concurrency” (using a unique identifier, try and then check if your identifier was successful) and “last writer wins” (as it says, the last write is the one that the storage system remembers). Many systems do this by snapshotting the object, allowing updates on the copy, and then atomically swapping them.

    Object systems differ in what they permit. In general, applications need to be aware that they may, very occasionally, not be successful when modifying objects, and to have strategies to deal with it, like retrying or even simply giving up.

    Again, you can check out the recorded version of the webcast at your convenience and you can download the webcasts slides as well if you’d like to follow along. Remember, this webcast was part of series. I encourage you to register today for our next one, which will be on August 1st at 10:00 am PT – Part Turquoise “Where Does My Data Go?” And please visit the SNIA ESF website for our full library of ESF webcasts.


    Unlock the Power of Persistent Memory in Containers

    July 16th, 2017

    Containers and persistent memory are both very hot topics these days. Containers are making it easier for developers to know that their software will run, no matter where it is deployed and no matter what the underlying OS is as both Linux and Windows are now fully supported. Persistent memory, a revolutionary data storage technology, will boost the performance of next-generation packaging of applications and libraries into containers. On July 27th, SNIA is hosting a live webcast “Containers and Persistent Memory.”

    In this webcast you’ll learn:

    • What SNIA is doing to advance persistent memory technologies
    • What the ecosystem enablement efforts are around persistent memory solutions and their relationship to containerized applications
    • How NVDIMMs are paving the way for plug-n-play adoption into containers environments for applications demanding extreme performance
    • How next-generation applications (often referred to as cloud-native or web-scale) can take advantage of both NVDIMMs and Containers to achieve both high performance and hyperscale

    I hope you will join me, together with my colleagues Arthur Sainio, SNIA NVDIMM SIG Co-chair, and Alex McDonald, Co-chair of SNIA Solid State Storage and SNIA Cloud Storage Initiatives, to find out what application developers, storage administrators and the industry want to see to fully unlock the potential of persistent memory in a containerized environment. I encourage you to register today. And please bring your questions. We’ll be on-hand to answer them on the spot. I hope to see you there.

    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...

    Around the World, It’s a Persistent Memory Summer

    June 19th, 2017
    This summer, join SNIA as they evangelize members’ industry activity to advance the convergence of storage and memory. SNIA is participating in the first annual European In-Memory Computing Summit, June 20-21, 2017 at the Movenpick Hotel in Amsterdam.  SNIA Europe Vice-Chair and SNIA Solid State Storage Initiative (SSSI) Co-Chair Alex McDonald of NetApp keynotes a session on SNIA and Persistent Memory, highlighting SNIA work on an NVM programming model and persistent memory solutions available today and SNIA is a sponsor in the exhibit hall.  Continue Reading...

    SNIA Highlights Persistent Memory and Scalable Storage Management at Storage Field Day 13

    June 8th, 2017

    Following enthusiastic response to their first Storage Field Day in March, SNIA is returning to the lineup on June 15, 2017. Storage Field Day events bring together innovative IT organizations and independent thought leaders to share information and opinions in a presentation format that is lively – and live streamed.

    SNIA will present Storage Field Day #13 at their Technology Center in Colorado Springs, CO where organizer Stephen Foskett and a dozen delegates will tour the facility and interact with SNIA members on persistent memory and scalable storage management – two hot storage topics that consumers and the industry want to learn more about.

     Continue Reading…

    Your Questions Answered on Non-Volatile DIMMs

    April 3rd, 2017
      by Arthur Sainio, SNIA NVDIMM SIG Co-Chair, SMART Modular SNIA’s Non-Volatile DIMM (NVDIMM) Special Interest Group (SIG) had a tremendous response to their most recent webcast:  NVDIMM:  Applications are Here!  You can view the webcast on demand. Viewers had many questions during the webcast.  In this blog, the NVDIMM SIG answers those questions and shares the SIG’s knowledge of NVDIMM technology. Have a question?  Send it to nvdimmsigchair@snia.org. 1. What about 3DXpoint, how will this technology impact the market?  Continue Reading...

    Latency Budgets for Solid State Storage Access

    March 7th, 2017

    New solid state storage technologies are forcing the industry to refine distinctions between networks and other types of system interconnects.  The question on everyone’s mind is: when is it beneficial to use networks to access solid state storage, particularly persistent memory?

    It’s not quite as simple as a “yes/no” answer. The answer to this question involves application, interconnect, memory technology and scalability factors that can be analyzed in the context of a latency budget.

    On April 19th, Doug Voigt, Chair SNIA NVM Programming Model Technical Work Group, returns for a live SNIA Ethernet Storage Forum webcast, “Architectural Principles for Networked Solid State Storage Access – Part 2where we will explore latency budgets for various types of solid state storage access. These can be used to determine which combinations of interconnects, technologies and scales are compatible with Load/Store instruction access and which are better suited to IO completion techniques such as polling or blocking.

    In this webcast you’ll learn:

    • Why latency is important in accessing solid state storage
    • How to determine the appropriate use of networking in the context of a latency budget
    • Do’s and don’ts for Load/Store access

    This is a technical seminar built upon part 1 of this series. If you missed it, you can view it on demand at your convenience. It will give you a solid foundation on this topic, outlining key architectural principles that allow us to think about the application of networked solid state technologies more systematically.

    I hope you will register today for the April 19th event. Doug and I will be on hand to answer questions on the spot.

    SNIA Activities in Security, Containers, and File Storage on Tap at Three Bay Area Events

    February 14th, 2017

    SNIA will be out and about in February in San Francisco and Santa Clara, CA, focused on their security, container, and file storage activities.

    February 14-17 2017, join SNIA in San Francisco at the RSA Conference in the OASIS Interop: KMIP & PKCS11 booth S2115. OASIS and SNIA member companies will be demonstrating OASIS Key Management Interoperability Protocol (KMIP) through live interoperability across all participants. SNIA representatives will be on hand in the booth to answer questions about the Storage Security Industry Forum KMIP Conformance Test Program, which enables organizations with KMIP implementations to validate the protocol conformance of those products and meet market requirements for secure, plug-and-play storage solutions. And Eric Hibbard, Chair of the SNIA Security Technical Work Group and CTO Security and Privacy, HDS Corporation, will participate in the “Can I Get a Witness? Technical Witness Bootcamp” session on February 17.

    The following week, February 21-23, join SNIA at Container World in Santa Clara CA. Enabling access to memory is an important concern to container designers, and Arthur Sainio, SNIA NVDIMM Special Interest Group Co-Chair from SMART Modular, will speak on Boosting Performance of Data Intensive Applications via Persistent Memory. Integrating containers into legacy solutions will be a focus of a panel where Mark Carlson, SNIA Technical Council Co-Chair from Toshiba, will speak on Container Adoption Paths into Legacy Infrastructure. SNIA experts will be joined by other leaders in the container ecosystem like Docker, Twitter, ADP, Google, and Expedia . The SNIA booth will feature cloud infrastructure and storage discussions and a demonstration of a multi-vendor persistent memory solution featuring NVDIMM!  (P.S. – Are you new to containers? Get a head start on conference discussions by checking out a December 2016 SNIA blog on Containers, Docker, and Storage.)  

    Closing out February, find SNIA at their booth at USENIX FAST from February 27-March 2 in Santa Clara, CA, where you can engage with SNIA Technical Council leaders on the latest activities in file and storage technologies.

    We look forward to seeing you at one (or more) of these events!


    SNIA Recognizes Outstanding Individual and Group Contributors

    February 2nd, 2017

    The backbone of SNIA is its passionate and dedicated volunteers – over 3,500 from 160 companies involved in storage and technology.  At the end of each year, SNIA members vote anonymously to recognize both individuals and groups who have made significant contributions over that year to advancing SNIA’s mission to lead the storage industry worldwide in developing and promoting vendor-neutral architectures, standards, and educational services that facilitate the efficient management, movement, and security of information. At the January 2017 Annual Members Symposium, SNIA was pleased to honor the following volunteer members and groups:

    Individual Awards

    Jim Pappas from Intel Corporation received the Exceptional Leadership Award for his outstanding leadership advancing the cause of persistent memory within SNIA leading to an impact both on the industry and the Association.  The recent 5th annual SNIA Persistent Memory Summit, chaired by Pappas, drew over 500 attendees both live and online, and featured sessions demonstrating the deliverance of convergence of storage and memory.


    Patrick Boyd from Dell Corporation received the Unsung Hero Award for working tirelessly under the radar, expecting no accolades for his major contributions to the SNIA Scalable Storage Management Technical Work Group.


    Doug Voigt from Hewlett Packard Enterprise received the Volunteer of the Year Award for his consistent contributions during 2016 furthering the work of the SNIA Non-Volatile Memory Programming Technical Work Group.


    Richelle Ahlvers from Broadcom Limited received the New Contributor of the Year Award for her leadership of a new SNIA program within the SNIA Scalable Storage Management Technical Work Group and contributions to driving a new SNIA Swordfish v.1.0 specification in nine months.


    Group Awards


    The SNIA Storage Management Initiative received the Outstanding Achievement of a SNIA Technology Community Award for advancing for SNIA the cause of storage management with its achievements leading to an impact on the industry.


    SNIA Japan received the Significant Contribution(s) by a Committee or Regional Affiliate Award for its work to advance data storage technology in the industry.

    The SFF Task Force received the Significant Impact by a Previously Existing Technical Work Group (TWG) or Task Force Award for its member work and efforts to establish the SNIA SFF Technology Affiliate (TA) Technical Work Group to carry forth the longstanding SFF Committee work efforts that has operated since 1990 until mid-2016.

    The SNIA Scalable Storage Management Technical Work Group received the New SNIA Group of the Year Award for its innovative, groundbreaking work in providing a unified approach for the management of storage and servers in hyperscale and cloud infrastructure environments, making it easier for IT administrators to integrate scalable solutions into their data centers.


    Attend Live – or Live Stream – SNIA’s Persistent Memory Summit January 18

    January 12th, 2017

    by Marty Foltyn

    SNIA’s Persistent Memory Summit makes its fifth annual appearance in Silicon Valley next Wednesday, January 18, and if you are in the vicinity of the Westin San Jose, you owe it to yourself to check it out. PMSummitLogo (2)

    SNIA is well known for its technology-focused, no vendor-hype conferences, and this one-day event will feature 12 presentations and two panels that will “level set” the discussion, review persistent memory usage, describe applications incorporating PM available today, discuss the infrastructure and implementation, and provide a vision of the “next generation” of persistent memory.

    You’ll meet speakers from SNIA member companies Intel, Micron, Microsemi, VMware, Red Hat, Microsoft, AgigA Tech, Western Digital, and Spin Transfer.  Live demonstrations of persistent memory solutions will be featured from Summit underwriters Intel and the SNIA Solid State Storage Initiative, and Summit sponsors Microsemi, VMware, AgigA Tech, SMART Modular, and Spin Transfer.

    Registration is complimentary but limited  -visit http://www.snia.org/pm-summit for the complete agenda and how to sign up.  And, if your travels don’t permit you to attend in person, the Persistent Memory Summit will be live-streamed on the SNIAvideo channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/SNIAVideo.