The Composable Scorecard and NVMe over Fabrics

The Composable Scorecard and NVMe over Fabrics

2019-02-04T17:23:30-08:00

score card for will it compose

Introducing the Composable Scorecard

Today, we define a framework for comparing different technologies and systems in regards to their applicability in composable systems. Think of this as a child’s report card as applied to technologies. And yes, “plays well with others”, and “needs improvement” are definite areas of concern.

The whole point of composability is to arrive at systems which are totally compatible with the vast array of software and operational expertise that work on “non-composed,” traditional systems. So we’ll give an A+ to attributes that are 100 percent compatible and an F to attributes that are just a disaster and of course A,B,C, and D in between. Like any report card, grades can change over time. So we’ll try to update things at least once a year. Here are the “subjects” of the report card:

  • Compatibility – Retains all of the same interactions
  • Performance – Delivers the same performance, latency and throughput
  • Cost – Reduces total system cost
  • Resilience – Maintains or increases reliability and availability of resources
  • Security – Maintains or increase data security
  • Ease of Use – Intuitive and automated in use
  • Scale – Seamless, uninterrupted growth to cloud scale without customer developed scripts
  • Intelligent – Predictive, self-healing
  • Familiarity – Industry-standard, open source, high volume deployments

Will it Compose?  Our Scorecard for NVMe over Fabrics SSDs

Now we’ll perform our first application of the scorecard to a very hot topic today: NVMe flash storage. Let’s see how the scorecard rates NVMe over Fabrics with and without the DriveScale Composable Platform.

DriveScale will it compose scorecard

When it comes to storage, we are now in an SSD-first world. Hard drives remain important, but only for very high capacity and low-cost applications. When it comes to SSDs, we are now in an NVMe-first world. SATA and SAS SSDs are still being pushed by some system vendors, but all of the component vendors are totally focused on NVMe, which brings huge performance advantages, with little cost impact, to SSDs.

The NVMe over Fabrics protocol standard is a huge boon to disaggregation and composability. It provides a way to use network-based NVMe drives with little or no performance degradation. But NVMe-o-F is new, and RDMA is not widely deployed or understood, so alternate transports such as NVMe on TCP (coming soon) and good old iSCSI can be the most practical way to deliver composable SSDs.

Stay tuned as we next create our Scorecard for Ethernet as a Fabric.

About the Author:

Tom Lyon is a computing systems architect, a serial entrepreneur and a kernel hacker. Prior to founding DriveScale, Tom was founder and Chief Scientist of Nuova Systems, a start-up that led a new architectural approach to systems and networking. Nuova was acquired in 2008 by Cisco, whose highly successful UCS servers and Nexus switches are based on Nuova’s technology. He was also founder and CTO of two other technology companies. Netillion, Inc. was an early promoter of memory-over-network technology. At Ipsilon Networks, Tom invented IP Switching. Ipsilon was acquired by Nokia and provided the IP routing technology for many mobile network backbones. As employee #8 at Sun Microsystems, Tom was there from the beginning, where he contributed to the UNIX kernel, created the SunLink product family, and was one of the NFS and SPARC architects. He started his Silicon Valley career at Amdahl Corp., where he was a software architect responsible for creating Amdahl’s UNIX for mainframes technology. Tom holds numerous U.S. patents in system interconnects, memory systems, and storage. He received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Princeton University.

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