It’s time for a real change, not just iterative AFA evolution

Until a few years ago acquiring storage was a relatively simple matter. Storage platforms were based on hard disk drives, and the only major questions were what speed drives to use and how to connect them together. But then enterprise flash arrived on the scene and suddenly it became possible to greatly increase storage performance.

However, to avoid having to modify other elements of the platform, the majority of flash storage simply emulated established hard disk protocols, taking the form of solid-state drives (SSDs). This encouraged adoption but limited the functionality and performance of all-flash arrays.

This may sound just like standard technological evolution and simply a background issue, but as business demands ramp up, the expectations that we as users have of storage are changing. For example, many new workloads springing up from the digital transformation of business processes require parallel access to data. Some of these are pushing existing storage, even all-flash array (AFA) technology, to its limits.

To tackle this, the industry has been working on new technologies to really open up the power of flash storage. This paper will take a high-level look at the development of a key one of these: non-volatile memory express storage, usually abbreviated to NVMe. We will consider how it differs from traditional storage and give some idea of how it is being adopted.

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