I was talking to one of our customers recently, and he made a comment that really stuck with me. He was talking about his business today and the intense pressure his team is under to deliver faster and faster. His job is all about empowering his team to build applications in the cloud and do it at a much accelerated pace.
The comment: “What used to take months now takes minutes.”
We all know what’s happening today in IT. Workloads are changing, stimulated by rigorous demands created from the growth of data in the cloud. According to IDC, this flood of data is estimated to reach 163 zettabytes by 2025 — up from 44 zettabytes that IDC originally projected we would reach by 2020. Storage and compute technologies must evolve rapidly to keep up with this reality.
This data growth puts a focus on how companies interact with their large, complex, business-critical workloads such as high-performance OLTP relational databases and big data. It is important, therefore, that cloud environments are designed for real-time data analytics. These data insight needs are not easy to solve for, but storage technology innovation like NVMe™ protocols paired with PCIe connections means that now storage is no longer the bottleneck. And that’s when things really start accelerating.
As my Micron associate Doug Rollins said in a July 2017 blog, “NVMe SSDs enable much faster IOPS (I/O per second) because they are not subject to the same extensive protocol conversions and OS driver stacks that SATA and SAS SSDs and their HBAs require. When we couple this more direct connection with the protocol advantages NVMe brings, we get a tremendous boost in IOPS performance.” How fast? A recent Micron technical brief focusing on comparing performance, speed and costs on the three currently available host-to-drive interfaces – SATA, SAS and PCIe – includes test results showing that NVMe SSDs can clock in at 700,000 random 4K read IOPS.
What speed does for the data center is what makes this exciting. Ideally, the right flash media can improve CPU utilization, increase IOPs, and reduce latency. We at Micron believe next-generation IT will be built on NVMe. That’s also the prediction of G2M Analysis, who insisted in their first NVM Express ecosystem market report that more than 50 percent of enterprise servers will have NVMe bays and 60 percent of enterprise storage appliances will have NVMe bays by 2020. This is a good development for business. With NVMe SSDs powering workload applications, organizations can have faster access to data to enable near instantaneous business decisions based on true data insight.
The ultra-low latency of these SSDs with NVMe enables more work per server and rack, which can increase agility and efficiency in the data center. Flash storage typically reduces the data center footprint and indirect costs such as power usage and cooling per IOPS when compared to legacy HDD storage. A Forrester survey on behalf of Micron of North American data center managers starting to use flash indicated an average reduction of 9% in power/utility costs over legacy HDDs, as well as flash SSDs enabling data administrators to manage an average of 4x more data.
Organizations with massively large and varied data sets doing real-time analytics particularly need their storage solutions built to solve specific data challenges. It’s not enough to store the data, the infrastructure also must make the data easily accessible at a moment’s notice for analysis and action, to deliver the performance that data analytics engines demand. Customers who are using NVMe SSDs are finding multiple ways to overcome their challenges, and here is one pretty dramatic example: Accelerating databases and other applications.
We have had several customers tell us how Micron SSDs enable more efficient use of their CPUs and accelerate applications across their enterprise.
Consider this example:
An enterprise with serious revenues from online retail depends on its database inventory and financial software. Its customers expect fast response even during times of high volume, high transaction rates, so ensuring high performance is critical. Speeding up this business-critical application with the reduced latency and increased availability of NVMe helps ensure the online shopping and targeted ecommerce, inventory control and business intelligence applications all get the support they need to deliver quickly and precisely. Another possible benefit comes with reduced complexity, CPUs and nodes that as a possible result of increased efficiency. Since IT also must manage licensing and support from the software vendors to contain costs, but not in a way that puts the enterprise at risk from lowered service levels, flash drive performance improvements can help enterprises do more with the CPUs and nodes already in place.
What does this mean? The business world is speeding up. Technology innovation is enabling a whole new way of conducting business. Life changing, you may say. In the data center anyway. We’re accessing data at the speed of now.
I invite you to stay tuned. Our team of NVMe engineers and experts is working on some interesting test reports that will show you exactly how significant a difference NVMe SSDs can make.