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How NVMe-oF advantages are transforming storage

Last updated:July 2019

Editor's note

NVMe isn't just about flash drives anymore. The NVMe over fabrics protocol is extending NVMe's high-speed, low-latency advantages across network fabrics. Whether your organization uses Fibre Channel, remote direct memory access or TCP, NVMe-oF is now a networking option.

NVMe-oF lets an NVMe host communicate with a network-connected NVMe storage device, mapping commands and responses to the host's shared memory. With it, NVMe-based devices can be accessed over greater distances, and more devices can be looped in. One NVMe-oF advantage is it makes distributed data centers with all the capabilities of NVMe a reality.

Read on to find out about NVMe-oF advantages, how they're changing storage and what's important when deploying the technology.

1How NVMe-oF is changing storage

NVMe-oF uses the NVMe protocol to connect hosts to storage across a network fabric. NVMe-oF extends the benefits of NVMe across the data center, expanding the distance over which NVMe devices can be reached. And, depending on the fabric used and the existing infrastructure, it may not require a hardware or software upgrade.

2Fabric options for NVMe-oF

The initial NVMe-oF spec supported Fibre Channel (FC) and remote direct memory access (RDMA) fabrics, including InfiniBand, RDMA over Converged Ethernet and Internet Wide Area RDMA Protocol. Version 1.1 of the spec, released November 2018, added TCP as a fabric option.

3What to consider when deploying NVMe-oF

There's a lot to assess when implementing NVMe-oF. For instance, will your organization's existing network fabric support NVMe-oF as is? Or will it require significant reconfiguration or upgrades? Does your storage network have adequate throughput to keep up with the NVMe storage devices you're connecting to? And is your storage system software up to date? These are some of the questions you'll need to answer.

4NVMe-oF terminology to know

It's important to understand some key terms related to NVMe and NVMe over fabrics. Here are five you should know.

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