Accelerating SAN Design: Embracing NVMe SSDs and Modern Connectivity

The Cutting-Edge of Storage Performance

Storage Area Networks (SANs) are the backbone of today’s data-centric enterprises, driving the performance of everything from virtual desktops to complex databases. NVMe-based Solid State Drives (SSDs) have become pivotal in the quest for speed. For SAN environments like Dell EMC VMAX and Pure Storage, SSDs like the Ultrastar SN640 and PowerMax NVMe offer unparalleled IOPS and latency under 100μs, ensuring rapid access to critical data.

Micron X100 SSD: A Game-Changer

Among the stars of speed, the Micron X100 SSD stands out with its hefty 30.72TB capacity and staggering 2.5M IOPS for sequential reads. Its use of 3D XPoint technology propels it ahead, offering an ultra-low latency of less than 95μs. This SSD isn’t just about raw speed; it delivers consistent performance for the most demanding workloads.

Designing for Mixed Environments

A strategic approach to storage design is critical in a typical SAN setup that caters to various workloads—from Windows VMs to SQL Data Warehouses and file servers. While a tiered storage model can optimize for different performance needs, there’s an emerging preference for simplicity: a single tier of high-end NVMe SSDs. While potentially more costly upfront, this approach can reduce complexity and ensure performance headroom for growth and unexpected demand spikes.

NVMe SANs: The Evolution of Storage Architecture

SAN architecture is witnessing a revolutionary shift from SAS/SATA interfaces to NVMe. This transition promises to future-proof storage infrastructure and to streamline operations. With PCIe NVMe interfaces and NVMe Drive Enclosures (DAEs), SANs are achieving breakthrough performance metrics that redefine what we can expect from enterprise storage solutions.

Server-Side Connectivity: iSCSI Holds Its Ground

While the backend storage infrastructures evolve, iSCSI maintains its relevance on the server side, benefiting from its compatibility with high-speed Ethernet. It’s a tried-and-true protocol that balances speed with cost-effectiveness. However, the spotlight is shifting towards NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF), which promises to bring the full NVMe performance spectrum over networks.

iSCSI vs. FCoE: The Speed Dilemma

Regarding server-to-storage connectivity, iSCSI currently leads in throughput, thanks to Ethernet’s rapid evolution. However, FCoE retains an edge in low-latency connectivity. As the landscape evolves, NVMe-oF is positioned to be the standard-bearer for high-performance networking, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with SAN design.

Embracing the Future of SAN

The trajectory of SAN design is straightforward: faster, more efficient, and simpler. As NVMe SSDs like the Micron X100 set new standards for performance and NVMe over Fabrics redefines networked storage, SAN architects have more tools than ever to create systems that meet the demanding needs of today’s data-driven world.

The SAN of tomorrow is built on today’s innovations, and by embracing these technologies, organizations can ensure that their data infrastructures are not just keeping pace but are ready to lead into the future.