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Use NVMe U.2 SFF 8639 disk drive form factor SSD in PCIe slot

server storage I/O data infrastructure trends

Need to install or use an Intel Optane NVMe 900P or other Nonvolatile Memory (NVM) Express  NVMe based U.2 SFF 8639 disk drive form factor Solid State Device (SSD) into PCIe a slot?


For example, I needed to connect an Intel Optane NVMe 900P U.2 SFF 8639 drive form factor SSD into one of my servers using an available PCIe slot.


The solution I used was an carrier adapter card such as those from Ableconn (PEXU2-132 NVMe 2.5-inch U.2 [SFF-8639] via among other global venues.


Top Intel 750 NVMe PCIe AiC SSD, bottom Intel Optane NVMe 900P U.2 SSD with Ableconn carrier


The above image shows top an Intel 750 NVMe PCIe Add in Card (AiC) SSD and on the bottom an Intel Optane NVMe 900P 280GB U.2 (SFF 8639) drive form factor SSD mounted on an Ableconn carrier adapter.


NVMe server storage I/O sddc

NVMe Tradecraft Refresher

NVMe is the protocol that is implemented with different topologies including local via PCIe using U.2 aka SFF-8639 (aka disk drive form factor), M.2 aka Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF) also known as "gum stick", along with PCIe Add in Card (AiC). NVMe accessed devices can be installed in laptops, ultra books, workstations, servers and storage systems using the various form factors. U.2 drives are also refereed to by some as PCIe drives in that the NVMe command set protocol is implemented using PCIe x4 physical connection to the devices. Jump ahead if you want to skip over the NVMe primer refresh material to learn more about U.2 8639 devices.


data infrastructure nvme u.2 8639 ssd
Various SSD device form factors and interfaces


In addition to form factor, NVMe devices can be direct attached and dedicated, rack and shared, as well as accessed via networks also known as fabrics such as NVMe over Fabrics.


The many facets of NVMe as a front-end, back-end, direct attach and fabric


Context is important with NVMe in that fabric can mean NVMe over Fibre Channel (FC-NVMe) where the NVMe command set protocol is used in place of SCSI Fibre Channel Protocol (e.g. SCSI_FCP) aka FCP or what many simply know and refer to as Fibre Channel. NVMe over Fabric can also mean NVMe command set implemented over an RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) based network.


NVM and NVMe accessed flash SCM SSD storage


Another point of context is not to confuse Nonvolatile Memory (NVM) which are the storage or memory media and NVMe which is the interface for accessing storage (e.g. similar to SAS,


SATA and others). As a refresher, NVM or the media  are the various persistent memories (PM) including NVRAM, NAND Flash, 3D XPoint along with other storage class memories (SCM) used in SSD (in various packaging).


Learn more about 3D XPoint with the following resources:


Learn more (or refresh) your  NVMe server storage I/O knowledge, experience tradecraft skill set with  this post here. View this piece here looking at NVM vs. NVMe and how one is the media where data is stored, while the other is an access protocol (e.g. NVMe). Also  visit to view additional NVMe tips, tools, technologies, and related resources.

NVMe U.2 SFF-8639 aka 8639 SSD

On quick glance, an NVMe U.2 SFF-8639 SSD may look like a SAS small form factor (SFF) 2.5" HDD or SSD. Also, keep in mind that HDD and SSD with SAS interface have a small tab to prevent inserting them into a SATA port. As a reminder, SATA devices can plug into SAS ports, however not the other way around which is what the key tab function does (prevents accidental insertion of SAS into SATA). Looking at the left-hand side of the following image you will see an NVMe SFF 8639 aka U.2 backplane connector which looks similar to a SAS port.


Note that depending on how implemented including its internal controller, flash translation layer (FTL), firmware and other considerations, an NVMe U.2 or 8639 x4 SSD should have similar performance to a comparable NVMe x4 PCIe AiC (e.g. card) device. By comparable device, I mean the same type of NVM media (e.g. flash or 3D XPoint), FTL and controller. Likewise generally an PCIe x8 should be faster than an x4, however more PCIe lanes does not mean more performance, its what's inside and how those lanes are actually used that matter.


NVMe U.2 8639 2.5" 1.8" SSD driveNVMe U.2 8639 2.5 1.8 SSD drive slot pin
NVMe U.2 SFF 8639 Drive (Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials CRC Press)


With U.2 devices the key tab that prevents SAS drives from inserting into a SATA port is where four pins that support PCIe x4 are located. What this all means is that a U.2 8639 port or socket can accept an NVMe, SAS or SATA device depending on how the port is configured. Note that the U.2 8639 port is either connected to a SAS controller for SAS and SATA devices or a PCIe port, riser or adapter.


On the left of the above figure is a view towards the backplane of a storage enclosure in a server that supports SAS, SATA, and NVMe (e.g. 8639). On the right of the above figure is the connector end of an 8639 NVM SSD showing addition pin connectors compared to a SAS or SATA device. Those extra pins give PCIe x4 connectivity to the NVMe devices. The 8639 drive connectors enable a device such as an NVM, or NAND flash SSD to share a common physical storage enclosure with SAS and SATA devices, including optional dual-pathing.


More PCIe lanes may not mean faster performance, verify if those lanes (e.g. x4 x8 x16 etc) are present just for mechanical (e.g. physical) as well as electrical (they are also usable) and actually being used. Also, note that some PCIe storage devices or adapters might be for example an x8 for supporting two channels or devices each at x4. Likewise, some devices might be x16 yet only support four x4 devices.


NVMe U.2 SFF 8639 PCIe Drive SSD FAQ

Some common questions pertaining NVMe U.2 aka SFF 8639 interface and form factor based SSD include:


Why use U.2 type devices?


Compatibility with what's available for server storage I/O slots in a server, appliance, storage enclosure. Ability to mix and match SAS, SATA and NVMe with some caveats in the same enclosure. Support higher density storage configurations maximizing available PCIe slots and enclosure density.


Is PCIe x4 with NVMe U.2 devices fast enough?


While not as fast as a PCIe AiC that fully supports x8 or x16 or higher, an x4 U.2 NVMe accessed SSD should be plenty fast for many applications. If you need more performance, then go with a faster AiC card.


Why not go with all PCIe AiC?


If you need the speed, simplicity, have available PCIe card slots, then put as many of those in your systems or appliances as possible. Otoh, some servers or appliances are PCIe slot constrained so U.2 devices can be used to increase the number of devices attached to a PCIe backplane while also supporting SAS, SATA based SSD or HDDs.


Why not use M.2 devices?


If your system or appliances supports NVMe M.2 those are good options. Some systems even support a combination of M.2 for local boot, staging, logs, work and other storage space while PCIe AiC are for performance along with U.2 devices.


Why not use NVMeoF?


Good question, why not, that is, if your shared storage system supports NVMeoF or FC-NVMe go ahead and use that, however, you might also need some local NVMe devices. Likewise, if yours is a software-defined storage platform that needs local storage, then NVMe U.2, M.2 and AiC or custom cards are an option. On the other hand, a shared fabric NVMe based solution may support a mixed pool of SAS, SATA along with NVMe U.2, M.2, AiC or custom cards as its back-end storage resources.


When not to use U.2?


If your system, appliance or enclosure does not support U.2 and you do not have a need for it. Or, if you need more performance such as from an x8 or x16 based AiC, or you need shared storage. Granted a shared storage system may have U.2 based SSD drives as back-end storage among other options.

How does the U.2 backplane connector attach to PCIe?


Via enclosures backplane, there is either a direct hardwire connection to the PCIe backplane, or, via a connector cable to a riser card or similar mechanism.


Does NVMe replace SAS, SATA or Fibre Channel as an interface?


The NVMe command set is an alternative to the traditional SCSI command set used in SAS and Fibre Channel. That means it can replace, or co-exist depending on your needs and preferences for access various storage devices.


Who supports U.2 devices?


Dell has supported U.2 aka PCIe drives in some of their servers for many years, as has Intel and many others. Likewise, U.2 8639 SSD drives including 3D Xpoint and NAND flash-based are available from Intel among others.


Can you have AiC, U.2 and M.2 devices in the same system?


If your server or appliance or storage system support them then yes. Likewise, there are M.2 to PCIe AiC, M.2 to SATA along with other adapters available for your servers, workstations or software-defined storage system platform.

NVMe U.2 carrier to PCIe adapter

The following images show examples of mounting an Intel Optane NVMe 900P accessed U.2 8639 SSD on an Ableconn PCIe AiC carrier. Once U.2 SSD is mounted, the Ableconn adapter inserts into an available PCIe slot similar to other AiC devices. From a server or storage appliances software perspective, the Ableconn is a pass-through device so your normal device drivers are used, for example VMware vSphere ESXi 6.5 recognizes the Intel Optane device, similar with Windows and other operating systems.


intel optane 900p u.2 8639 nvme drive bottom view
  Intel Optane NVMe 900P U.2 SSD and Ableconn PCIe AiC carrier


The above image shows the Ableconn adapter carrier card along with NVMe U.2 8639 pins on the Intel Optane NVMe 900P.


intel optane 900p u.2 8639 nvme drive end view
Views of Intel Optane NVMe 900P U.2 8639 and Ableconn carrier connectors


The above image shows an edge view of the NVMe U.2 SFF 8639 Intel Optane NVMe 900P SSD along with those on the Ableconn adapter carrier. The following images show an Intel Optane NVMe 900P SSD installed in a PCIe AiC slot using an Ableconn carrier, along with how VMware vSphere ESXi 6.5 sees the device using plug and play NVMe device drivers.


NVMe U.2 8639 installed in PCIe AiC Slot
Intel Optane NVMe 900P U.2 SSD installed in PCIe AiC Slot


NVMe U.2 8639 and VMware vSphere ESXi
How VMware vSphere ESXi 6.5 sees NVMe U.2 device


Intel NVMe Optane NVMe 3D XPoint based and other SSDs

Here are some links to various Intel Optane NVMe 3D XPoint based SSDs in different packaging form factors:


Here are some links to various Intel and other vendor NAND flash based NVMe accessed SSDs including U.2, M.2 and AiC form factors:

Note in addition to carriers to adapt U.2 8639 devices to PCIe AiC form factor and interfaces, there are also M.2 NGFF to PCIe AiC among others. An example is the Ableconn M.2 NGFF PCIe SSD to PCI Express 3.0 x4 Host Adapter Card.


In addition to,, Ebay and many other venues carry NVMe related technologies. The Intel Optane NVMe 900P are newer, however the Intel 750 Series along with other Intel NAND Flash based SSDs are still good price performers and as well as provide value. I have accumulated several Intel 750 NVMe devices over past few years as they are great price performers. Check out this related post Get in the NVMe SSD game (if you are not already).

Where To Learn More

View additional NVMe, SSD, NVM, SCM, Data Infrastructure and related topics via the following links.


Additional  learning experiences along with  common questions (and answers), as well as  tips can be found in  Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials book.

Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials Book SDDC

What This All Means

NVMe accessed storage is in your future, however there are various questions to address including exploring your options for type of devices, form factors, configurations among other topics. Some NVMe accessed storage is direct attached and dedicated in laptops, ultrabooks, workstations and servers including PCIe AiC, M.2 and U.2 SSDs, while others are shared networked aka fabric based. NVMe over fabric (e.g. NVMeoF) includes RDMA over converged Ethernet (RoCE) as well as NVMe over Fibre Channel (e.g. FC-NVMe). Networked fabric accessed NVMe access of pooled shared storage systems and appliances can also include internal NVMe attached devices (e.g. as part of back-end storage) as well as other SSDs (e.g. SAS, SATA).


General wrap-up (for now) NVMe U.2 8639 and related tips include:

  • Verify the performance of the device vs. how many PCIe lanes exist
  • Update any applicable BIOS/UEFI, device drivers and other software
  • Check the form factor and interface needed (e.g. U.2, M.2 / NGFF, AiC) for a given scenario
  • Look carefully at the NVMe devices being ordered for proper form factor and interface
  • With M.2 verify that it is an NVMe enabled device vs. SATA


Learn more about NVMe at including how to use Intel Optane NVMe 900P U.2 SFF 8639 disk drive form factor SSDs in PCIe slots as well as for fabric among other scenarios.


Ok, nuff said, for now.


World Backup Day 2018 Data Protection Readiness Reminder

server storage I/O trends

It's that time of year again, World Backup Day 2018 Data Protection Readiness Reminder.


In case you have forgotten, or were not aware, this coming Saturday March 31 is World Backup (and recovery day). The annual day is a to remember to make sure you are protecting your applications, data, information, configuration settings as well as data infrastructures. While the emphasis is on Backup, that also means recovery as well as testing to make sure everything is working properly.


data infrastructure data protection


Its time that the  focus of world backup day should expand from just a focus on backup to also broader data protection and things that start with R. Some data protection (and backup) related things, tools, tradecraft techniques, technologies and trends that start with R include  readiness, recovery, reconstruct, restore, restart, resume, replication, rollback, roll forward, RAID and erasure codes, resiliency, recovery time objective (RTO), recovery point objective (RPO), replication among others.


data protection threats ransomware software defined


Keep in mind that Data Protection  is a broader focus than just backup and recovery. Data protection includes  disaster recovery DR, business continuance BC, business resiliency BR, security (logical and physical), standard and high availability HA, as well as durability, archiving, data footprint reduction, copy data management CDM along with various technologies, tradecraft techniques, tools.


data protection 4 3 2 1 rule and 3 2 1 rule

Quick Data Protection, Backup and Recovery Checklist

    • Keep the 4 3 2 1 or shorter older 3 2 1 data protection rules in mind
    • Do you know what data, applications, configuration settings, meta data, keys, certificates are being protected?
    • Do you know how many versions, copies, where stored and what is on or off-site, on or off-line?
    • Implement data protection at different intervals and coverage of various layers (application, transaction, database, file system, operating system, hypervisors, device or volume among others)


    data infrastructure backup data protection



          • Have you protected your data protection environment including software, configuration, catalogs, indexes, databases along with management tools?
          • Verify that data protection point in time copies (backups, snapshots, consistency points, checkpoints, version, replicas) are working as intended
          • Make sure that not only are the point in time protection copies running when scheduled, also that they are protected what's intended


          data infrastructure backup data protection



              • Test to see if the protection copies can actually be used, this means restoring as well as accessing the data via applications
              • Watch out to prevent a disaster in the course of testing, plan, prepare, practice, learn, refine, improve
              • In addition to verifying your data protection (backup, bc, dr) for work, also take time to see how your home or personal data is protected
              • View additional tips, techniques, checklist items in this Data Protection fundamentals series of posts here.

                storageio data protection toolbox

              Where To Learn More

              View additional Data Infrastructure Data Protection and related tools, trends, technology and tradecraft skills topics  via the following links.


              data protection rto rpo

              Additional  learning experiences along with  common questions (and answers), as well as  tips can be found in  Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials book.

              Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials Book SDDC

              What This All Means

              You can not go forward if you can not go back to a particular point in time (e.g. recovery point objective or RPO). Likewise, if you can not go back to a given RPO, how can you go forward with your business as well as meet your recovery time objective (RTO)?


              data protection restore rto rpo


              Backup is as important as restore, without a good backup or data protection point in time copy, how can you restore? Some will say backup is more important than recovery, however its the enablement that matters, in other words being able to provide data protection and recover, restart, resume or other things that start with R. World backup day should be a reminder to think about broader data protection which also means recovery, restore and realizing if your copies and versions are good. Keep the above in mind and this is your World Backup Day 2018 Data Protection Readiness Reminder.


              Ok, nuff said, for now.


              server storage I/O data infrastructure trends


              Microsoft and Azure September 2017 Software Defined Data infrastructure Updates


              September was a busy month for data infrastructure topics as well as Microsoft in terms of new and enhanced technologies. Wrapping up September was Microsoft Ignite  where Azure, Azure Stack, Windows, O365, AI, IoT, development tools announcements occurred, along with others from earlier in the month. As part of the September announcements, Microsoft released a new version of Windows server (e.g. 1709) that has a focus for enhanced container support. Note that if you have deployed Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) and are looking to upgrade to 1709, do your homework as there are some caveats that will cause you to wait for the next release. Note that there had been new storage related enhancements slated for the September update, however those were announced at Ignite to being pushed to the next semi-annual release. Learn more here and also here.

              Azure Files and NFS

              Microsoft made several Azure file storage related announcements and public previews during September including Native NFS based file sharing as companion to existing Azure Files, along with public preview of new Azure File Sync Service. Native NFS based file sharing (public preview announced, service is slated to be available in 2018) is a software defined storage deployment of NetApp OnTAP running on top of Azure data infrastructure including virtual machines and leverage Azure underlying storage.


              Note that the new native NFS is in addition to the earlier native Azure Files accessed via HTTP REST and SMB3 enabling sharing of files inside Azure public cloud, as well as accessible externally from Windows based and Linux platforms including on premises. Learn more about Azure Storage and Azure Files here.

              Azure File Sync (AFS)

              Azure File Sync AFS

              Azure File Sync (AFS) has now entered public preview.  While users of  Windows-based systems have been able to access and share Azure Files in the  past, AFS is something different.  I have used AFS for  some time now during several private preview iterations having seen how it has  evolved, along with how Microsoft listens incorporating feedback into the  solution.


              Lets take a look at what is AFS, what it does, how it works, where  and when to use it among other considerations. With AFS, different and independent systems  can now synchronize file shares through Azure. Currently in the AFS preview  Windows Server 2012 and 2016 are supported including bare metal, virtual, and  cloud based. For example I have had bare metal, virtual (VMware), cloud (Azure  and AWS) as part of participating in a file sync activities using AFS.


              Not to be confused with some other storage related AFS  including Andrew File System among others, the new Microsoft Azure File Sync service  enables files to be synchronized across different servers via Azure. This is  different then the previous available Azure File Share service that enables  files stored in Azure cloud storage to be accessed via Windows and Linux  systems within Azure, as well as natively by Windows platforms outside of  Azure. Likewise this is different from the recently announced Microsoft Azure  native NFS file sharing serving service in partnership with NetApp (e.g.  powered by OnTAP cloud).


     can be used to synchronize across different on premise as well as cloud servers that can also function as cache. What this means is that for Windows work folders served via different on premise servers, those files can be synchronized across Azure to other locations. Besides providing a cache, cloud tiering and enterprise file sync share (EFSS) capabilities, AFS also has robust optimization for data movement to and from the cloud and across sites, along with management tools. Management tools including diagnostics, performance and activity monitoring among others.

              Check out the AFS preview including planning for an Azure File Sync (preview) deployment (Docs Microsoft), and for those who have Yammer accounts, here is the AFS preview group link.

              Microsoft Azure Blob Events via Microsoft

              Azure Blob Storage Tiering and Event Triggers

              Two other Azure storage features that are in public preview include blob tiering (for cold archiving) and event triggers for events. As their names imply, blob tiering enables automatic migration from active to cold inactive storage of dormant date. Event triggers are policies rules (code) that get executed when a blob is stored to do various functions or tasks. Here is an overview of blob events and a quick start from Microsoft here.


              Keep in mind that not all blob and object storage are the same, a good example is Microsoft Azure that has page, block and append blobs. Append blobs are similar to what you might be familiar with other services objects. Here is a Microsoft overview of various Azure blobs including what to use when.

              Project Honolulu and Windows Server Enhancements

              Microsoft has evolved from command prompt (e.g. early MSDOS) to GUI with Windows to command line extending into PowerShell that left some thinking there is no longer need for GUI. Even though Microsoft has extended its CLI with PowerShell spanning WIndows platforms and Azure, along with adding Linux command shell, there are those who still want or need a GUI. Project Honolulu is the effort to bring GUI based management back to Windows in a simplified way for what had been headless, and desktop less deployments (e.g. Nano, Server Core). Microsoft had Server Management Tools (SMT) accessible via the Azure Portal which has been discontinued.


              Microsoft Project Honolulu management via
              Project Honolulu Image via


              This is where project Honolulu comes into play for managing Windows Server platforms. What this means is that for those who dont want to rely on or have a PowerShell dependency have an alternative option. Learn more about Project Honolulu here and here, including download the public preview here.

              Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) Kepler Appliance

              Data Infrastructure  provider DataOn has announced a new turnkey Windows Server 2016 Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) powered Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (e.g. productization of project Kepler-47) solution with two node small form factor servers (partner with MSI). How small? Think suitcase or airplane roller board carry on luggage size.


              What this means is that you can get into the converged, hyper-converged software defined storage game with Windows-based servers supporting Hyper-V virtual machines (Windows and Linux) including hardware for around $10,000 USD (varies by configuration and other options).

              Azure and Microsoft Networking News

              Speaking of Microsoft Azure public cloud, ever wonder what the network that enables the service looks like and some of the software defined networking (SDN) along with network virtualization function (NFV) objectives are, have a look at this piece from over at Data Center Knowledge.


              In related Windows, Azure and other focus areas, Microsoft, Facebook and Telxius have completed the installation of a high-capacity subsea cable (network) to cross the atlantic ocean. Whats so interesting from a data infrastructure, cloud or legacy server storage I/O and data center focus perspective? The new network was built by the combined companies vs. in the past by a Telco provider consortium with the subsequent bandwidth sold or leased to others.


              This new network is also 4,000 miles long including in depths of 11,000 feet, supports with current optics 160 terabits (e.g. 20 TeraBytes) per second capable of supporting 71 million HD videos streamed simultaneous. To put things into perspective, some residential Fiber Optic services can operate best case up to 1 gigabit per second (line speed) and in an asymmetrical fashion (faster download than uploads). Granted there are some 10 Gbit based services out there more common with commercial than residential. Simply put, there is a large amount of bandwidth increased across the atlantic for Microsoft and Facebook to support growing demands.

              Where To Learn More

              Learn more about related technology, trends, tools, techniques, and tips with the following links.

              What This All Means

              Microsoft announced a new release of Windows Server at Ignite as part of its new semi-annual release cycle. This latest version of Windows server is optimized for containers. In addition to Windows server enhancements, Microsoft continues to extend Azure and related technologies for public, private and hybrid cloud as well as software defined data infrastructures.


              By the way, if you have not heard, its Blogtober, check out some of the other blogs and posts occurring during October here.


              Ok, nuff said, for now.

              server storage I/O data infrastructure trends


              Dell EMC VMware September 2017 Software Defined Data Infrastructure Updates


              vmworld 2017


              September was a busy month including VMworld  in Las Vegas that featured many Dell EMC VMware (among other)  software defined data infrastructure updates and announcements.


              A summary of September VMware (and partner) related announcements include:


              VMware on AWS via
              VMware and AWS via Amazon Web Services


              VMware and AWS

              Some of you might recall VMware earlier attempt at public cloud with vCloud Air service (see Server StorageIO lab test drive here) which has since been depreciated (e.g. retired). This new approach by VMware leverages the large global presence of AWS enabling customers to set up public or hybrid vSphere, vSAN and NSX based clouds, as well as software defined data centers (SDDC) and software defined data infrastructures (SDDI).


              VMware Cloud on AWS exists on a dedicated, single-tenant (unlike Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) multi-tenant instances or VMs) that supports from 4 to 16 underlying host per cluster. Unlike EC2 virtual machine instances, VMware Cloud on AWS is delivered on elastic bare-metal (e.g. dedicated private servers aka DPS). Note AWS EC2 is more commonly known, AWS also has other options for server compute including Lambda micro services serverless containers, as well as Lightsail virtual private servers (VPS).


              Besides servers with storage optimized I/O featuring low latency NVMe accessed SSDs, and applicable underlying server I/O networking, VMware Cloud on AWS leverages the VMware software stack directly on underlying host servers (e.g. there is no virtualization nesting taking place). This means more robust performance should be expected like in your on premise VMware environment. VM workloads can move between your onsite VMware systems and VMware Cloud on AWS using various tools. The VMware Cloud on AWS is delivered and managed by VMware, including pricing. Learn more about VMware Cloud on AWS here, and here (VMware PDF) and here (VMware Hands On Lab aka HOL).


              Read more about AWS September news and related updates here in this StorageIOblog post.


              VMware PKS
              VMware and Pivotal PKS via

              Pivotal Container Service (PKS) and Google Kubernetes Partnership

              During VMworld VMware, Pivotal and Google announced a partnership for enabling Kubernetes container management called PKS (Pivotal Container Service). Kubernetes is evolving as a popular open source container microservice serverless management orchestration platform that has roots within Google. What this means is that what is good for Google and others for managing containers, is now good for VMware and Pivotal. In related news, VMware has become a platinum sponsor of the Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF). If you are not familiar with CNCF, add it to your vocabulary and learn more here at

              Other VMworld and September VMware related announcements

              Hyper converged data infrastructure provider Maxta has announced a VMware vSphere Escape Pod (parachute not included ) to facilitate migration from ESXi based  to Red Hat Linux hypervisor environments. IBM and VMware for cloud partnership, along with Dell EMC, IBM and VMware joint cloud solutions. White listing of VMware vSphere VMs for enhanced security combine with earlier announced capabilities.


              Note that both VMware with vSphere ESXi and Microsoft with Hyper-V (Windows and Azure based) are supporting various approaches for securing Virtual Machines (VMs) and the hosts they run on. These enhancements are moving beyond simply encrypting the VMDK or VHDX virtual disks the VMs reside in or use, as well as more than password, ssh and other security measures. For example Microsoft is adding support for host guarded fabrics (and machine hosts) as well as shielded VMs. Keep an eye on how both VMware and Microsoft extend the data protection and security capabilities for software defined data infrastructures for their solutions and services.

              Dell EMC Announcements

              At VMworld in September Dell EMC announcements included:

              • Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI) and Hybrid Cloud enhancements
              • Data Protection, Goverence and Management suite updates
              • XtremIO X2 all flash array (AFA) availability optimized for vSphere and VDI


              HCI and Hybrid Cloud enhancements include VxRail Appliance, VxRack SDDC (vSphere 6.5, vSAN 6.6, NSX 6.3) along with hybrid cloud platforms (Enterprise Hybrid Cloud and Native Hybrid Cloud) along with vSAN Ready Nodes (vSAN 6.6 and encryption) and VMware Ready System. Note that Dell EMC in addition to supporting VMware hybrid clouds also previously announced solutions for Microsoft Azure Stack back in May.


              Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials at VMworld Bookstore

              Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials (CRC Press) at VMworld bookstore


              My new book Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials (CRC Press) made its public debut in the VMware book store where I did a book signing event. You can get your copy of Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials which includes Software Defined Data Centers (SDDC) along with hybrid, multi-cloud, serverless, converged and related topics at Amazon among other venues. Learn more here.


              Where To Learn More

              Learn more about related technology, trends, tools, techniques, and tips with the following links.

              What This All Means

              A year ago at VMworld the initial conversations were started around what would become the VMware Cloud on AWS solution. Also a year ago besides VMware Integrated Containers (VIC) and some other pieces, the overall container and in particular related management story was a bit cloudy (pun intended). However, now the fog and cloud seem to be clearing with the PKS solution, along with details of VMware Cloud on AWS. Likewise vSphere, vSAN and NSX along with associated vRealize tools continue to evolve as well as customer deployment growing. All in all, VMware continues to evolve, let's see how things progress now over the year until the next VMworld.


              By the way, if you have not heard, its Blogtober, check out some of the other blogs and posts occurring during October here.


              Ok, nuff said, for now.
                Cheers Gs

              server storage I/O data infrastructure trends

              Amazon Web Service AWS September 2017 Software Defined Data Infrasture Updates


              September was a busy month pertaining to   software defined data infrastructure including cloud and related AWS announcements. One of the announcements included VMware partnering to deliver vSphere, vSAN and NSX data infrastructure components for creating software defined data centers (SDDC) also known as multi cloud, and hybrid cloud leveraging AWS elastic bare metal servers (read more here in a companion post). Unlike traditional partner software defined solutions that relied on AWS Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) instances, VMware is being deployed using private bare metal AWS elastic servers.


              What this means is that VMware vSphere (e.g. ESXi) hypervisor, vCenter, software defined storage (vSAN), storage defined network (NSX) and associated vRealize tools are deployed on AWS data infrastructure that can be used for deploying hybrid software defined data centers (e.g. connecting to your existing VMware environment). Learn more about VMware on AWS here or click on the following image.


              VMware on AWS via

              Additional AWS Updates

              Amazon Web Services (AWS) updates include, coinciding with VMworld, the initial availability of VMware on AWS (using virtual private servers e.g. think along the lines of Lightsail, not EC2 instances) was announced. Amazon Web Services (AWS) continues its expansion into database and table services with Relational Data Services (RDS) including various engines (Amazon Auora,MariaDB, MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL,and SQL Server along with Database Migration Service (DMS). Note that these RDS are in addition to what you can install and run your self on Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) virtual machine instances, Lambda serverless containers, or Lightsail Virtual Private Servers (VPS).


              AWS has published a guide to database testing on Amazon RDS for Oracle plotting latency and IOPs for OLTP workloads here using SLOB. If you are not familiar with SLOB (Silly Little Oracle Benchmark) here is a podcast with its creator Kevin Closson discussing database performance and related topics. Learn more about SLOB and step by step installation for AWS RDS Oracle here, and for those who are concerned or think that you can not run workloads to evaluate Oracle platforms, have a look at this here.


              EC2 enhancements include charging by the second (previous by the hour) for some EC2 instances (see details here including what is or is not currently available) which is a growing trend by private cloud vendors aligning with how serverless containers have been billed. New large memory EC2 instances that for example support up to 3,904GB of DDR4 RAM have been added by AWS. Other EC2 enhancements include updated network performance for some instances, OpenCL development environment to leverage AWS F1 FPGA enabled instances, along with new Elastic GPU enabled instances. Other server and network enhancements include Network Load Balancer for Elastic Load Balancer announced, as well as application load balancer now supports load balancing to IP address as targets for AWS and on premises (e.g. hybrid) resources.


              Other updates and announces include data protection backups to AWS via Commvault and AWS Storage Gateway VTL announced. IBM has announced their Spectrum Scale  (e.g. formerly known as SONAS aka GPFS) Scale Out Storage solution for high performance compute (HPC) quick start on AWS. Additional AWS enhancements include new edge location in Boston and a third Seattle site, while Direct Connect sites have been added in Boston and Houston along with Canberra Australia. View more AWS announcements and enhancements here.

              Where To Learn More

              Learn more about related technology, trends, tools, techniques, and tips with the following links.

              What This All Means

              AWS continues to grow and expand, both in terms of number of services, also the extensiveness of them. Likewise AWS continues to add more regions and data center availability zones, enhanced connectivity, along with earlier mentioned service features. The partnership with VMware should enable enterprise organizations to move towards hybrid cloud data infrastructures, while giving AWS an additional reach into those data centers. Overall a good set of enhancements by AWS who continues to evolve their cloud and software defined data infrastructure portfolio of solution offerings.


              By the way, if you have not heard, its Blogtober, check out some of the other blogs and posts occurring during October here.


              Ok, nuff said, for now.

              server storage I/O data infrastructure trends


              Microsoft has created an Azure and Amazon Web Service (AWS) Service Map  (corresponding services from both providers).

              Azure AWS service map via
              Image via


              Note that this is an evolving work in progress from  Microsoft and use it as a tool to help position the different services from  Azure and AWS.


              Also note that not all features or services may not be available in different regions, visit Azure and AWS sites to see current availability.


              As with any comparison they are often dated the day they are  posted hence this is a work in progress. If you are looking for another Microsoft  created why Azure vs. AWS then check out this here. If you  are looking for an AWS vs. Azure, do a simple Google (or Bing) search and watch  all the various items appear, some sponsored, some not so sponsored among  others.

              Whats In the Service Map

              The following AWS and Azure services are mapped:

              • Marketplace (e.g. where you select service offerings)
              • Compute (Virtual Machines instances, Containers, Virtual Private Servers, Serverless Microservices and Management)
              • Storage (Primary, Secondary, Archive, Premium SSD and HDD, Block, File, Object/Blobs, Tables, Queues,  Import/Export, Bulk transfer, Backup, Data Protection, Disaster Recovery, Gateways)
              • Network & Content Delivery (Virtual networking, virtual private networks and virtual private cloud, domain name services (DNS), content delivery network (CDN), load balancing, direct connect, edge, alerts)
              • Database (Relational, SQL and NoSQL document and key value, caching, database migration)
              • Analytics and Big Data (data warehouse, data lake, data processing, real-time and batch, data orchestration, data platforms, analytics)
              • Intelligence and IoT (IoT hub and gateways, speech recognition, visualization, search, machine learning, AI)
              • Management and Monitoring (management, monitoring, advisor, DevOps)
              • Mobile Services (management, monitoring, administration)
              • Security, Identity and Access (Security, directory services, compliance, authorization, authentication, encryption, firewall
              • Developer Tools (workflow, messaging, email, API management, media trans coding, development tools, testing, DevOps)
              • Enterprise Integration (application integration, content management)


              Down load a PDF version of the service map from Microsoft  here.

              Where To Learn More


              Learn more about related technology, trends, tools, techniques, and tips with the following links.


              What this means

              On one hand this can and will likely be used as a comparison however use caution as both Azure and AWS services are rapidly evolving, adding new features, extending others. Likewise the service regions and site of data centers also continue to evolve thus use the above as a general guide or tool to help map what service offerings are similar between AWS and Azure.


              By the way, if you have not heard, its Blogtober, check out some of the other blogs and posts occurring during October here.


              Ok, nuff said, for now.

              Server StorageIO Industry Resources and Links

              Volume 17, Issue IX (September 2017)

              Hello and welcome to the September 2017 issue of the Server StorageIO update newsletter.

              With September being generally known as back to school month, the two September event bookends were VMware VMworld and Microsoft Ignite with many other things in between.


              Needless to say, a lot has happened in and around data infrastructure topic areas since the August newsletter (here if you missed it). Here is a post covering some of the things that I participated with during September including presentations at events in Las Vegas (VMworld), New York City (Wipro SDx Summit), SNIA SDC in Santa Clara, Fujifilm Executive Summitt in Seattle, Minneapolis/St. Paul CMG along with other activities.


              Software-Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials SDDI SDDC


              One of the activities I participated in with while at VMworld in Las Vegas was a book signing event at the VMware bookstore of my new book Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials (CRC Press) available at and other global venues.


              September has been a busy month pertaining data infrastructure including server storage I/O related trends, activities, news, perspectives and related topics, so let's have a look at them.

              In This Issue

              Enjoy this edition of the Server StorageIO data infrastructure update newsletter.

              Cheers GS

              Data Infrastructure and IT Industry Activity Trends

              Some recent Industry Activities, Trends, News and Announcements include:

              The month started out with VMworld in Las Vegas (e.g. one of the event bookends for the month). Rather than a long list of announcements in this newsletter, check out this StorageIOblog post covering VMworld, VMware and Dell EMC and related news. As part of VMworld, VMware and Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced news about their partnership. AWS also had several other enhancements and new product announcements during september that can be found in this StorageIOblog post here.


              AWS, Dell EMC and VMware were not the only ones making news or announcements during September. Startup NVMe based storage startup Apeiron has announced a Splunk appliance to boost log and analytics processing performance. Gigamon has extended its public cloud monitoring, insight awareness and analytics capabilities including support for Microsoft Azure.

              For those looking for the latest new emerging data infrastructure vendors to watch, add Vexta to your list of NVMe based storage systems. Vexta talks a lot about NVMe particular for their backend (e.g. where data stored on NVM based devices accessed via NVMe),  access of their storage system is via traditional Fibre Channel (FC) or emerging NVMe over fabric.


              Long time data infrastructure server and storage vendor HDS (Hitachi Data Systems) is no more (at least in name) having re branded themselves as Vantara focusing on IoT and Cloud analytics besides their traditional data center focus. Vantara combines what was HDS, Hitachi Insight Group and Pentaho into a single unit effectively based in what was HDS as a new, repackaged, refocused business unit.


              Another longtime data infrastructure solution and service provider IBM announced a new Linux only zSeries (ZED) mainframe solution. Some might think the Mainframe is dead, others that it can only run Linux as a virtual guest in a virtual machine. On the other hand some might recall that there are native Linux implementations on the ZED including Ubuntu among others.


              Also note that while IBM zOS mainframe operating systems use FICON for storage access, native ZED Linux systems can use open systems based Fibre Channel (FC) e.g. SCSI command set protocols. Is the ZED based Linux for everybody or every environment? Probably not, however for those who have large-scale Linux needs, it might be worth a look to do a total cost of ownership analysis. If nothing else, do your homework, play your cards right and you might have some leverage with the x86 based server crowd when it comes to negotiating leverage.


              Cloud storage gateway vendor Nasuni has landed another $38 Million USD in funding, hopefully that will enable them to start landing some new and larger customer revenues growing their business. Meanwhile storage startup Qumulo has announced extending their global file fabric name space to include spanning AWS.


              Attala Systems has announced next generation software defined storage for data infrastructures for Telco environments. Percona has added an experimental release of their MySQL engine enhancing performance for high volume, write intensive workloads along with improved cost effectiveness.
              Software defined storage vendor Datacore announced enhancements to support fast databases for online transaction processing (OLTP) along with analytics. Meanwhile Linux provider SUSE continues to expand its software defined storage story based around Ceph. Panasas has enhanced its scale out high performance cluster file system global name space for HPC environments with 20 PByte support. Another longtime storage vendor X-IO (formerly known as Xiotech) announced their 4th generation of their Intelligent Storage Element (ISE).


              September wrapped up with Microsoft Ignite conference along with many updated, enhancements and new features for Azure, Azure Stack, Windows among others. Read more about those and other Microsoft September announcements here in this StorageIOblog post.

              Check out other industry news, comments, trends perspectives here.

              Server StorageIO Commentary in the news

              Recent Server StorageIO industry trends perspectives commentary in the news.

              Via CDW: Comments on Is Your Network About To Fail?
              Via EnterpriseStorageForum: Comments on Data Storage and Big Data Analytics
                  Via InfoGoto: Comments on Cloud FOMO (Fear of missing out)
                  Via InfoGoto: Comments on Building a Modern Data Strategy
                  Via InfoGoto: Comments on the future of Multi-Cloud Computing
                  Via InfoGoto: Comments on AI, Machine Learning and Data management
                  Via InfoGoto: Comments on Your riskiest data might be in plain sight
                  Via InfoGoto: Comments on Data Management Too Much To Handle
                Via InfoGoto: Comments on Google Cloud Platform Gaining Data Storage Momentum
                Via InfoGoto: Comments on Singapore High Rise Data Centers
                Via InfoGoto: Comments on New Tape Storage Capacity
                Via EnterpriseStorageForum: Comments on 8 ways to save on cloud storage
                Via EnterpriseStorageForum: Comments on Google Cloud Platform and Storage

              View more Server, Storage and I/O trends and perspectives comments here

              Server StorageIOblog Posts

              Recent and popular Server StorageIOblog posts include:

              In Case You Missed It #ICYMI

              View other recent as well as past StorageIOblog posts here

              Server StorageIO Data Infrastructure Tips and Articles

              Recent Server StorageIO industry trends perspectives commentary in the news.

              Via EnterpriseStorageForum: Comments on Who Will Rule the Storage World?
              Via InfoGoto: Comments on Google Cloud Platform Gaining Data Storage Momentum
              Via InfoGoto: Comments on Singapore High Rise Data Centers
              Via InfoGoto: Comments on New Tape Storage Capacity
              Via EnterpriseStorageForum: Comments on 8 ways to save on cloud storage
              Via EnterpriseStorageForum: Comments on Google Cloud Platform and Storage

              View more Server, Storage and I/O trends and perspectives comments here

              Server StorageIO Recommended Reading (Watching and Listening) List

              In addition to my own books including Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials (CRC Press 2017), the following are Server StorageIO recommended reading, watching and listening list items. The list includes various IT, Data Infrastructure and related topics.


              Intel Recommended Reading List (IRRL) for developers is a good resource to check out.

              Its October which means that it is also  Blogtober, check out some of the blogs and posts occurring during October here.


              Preston De Guise aka @backupbear is Author of several books has an interesting new site that looks at topics including Ethics in IT among others. Check out his new book Data Protection: Ensuring Data Availability (CRC Press 2017).


              Brendan Gregg has a great site for Linux performance related topics here.


              Greg Knieriemen has a must read weekly blog, post, column collection of whats going on in and around the IT and data infrastructure related industries, Check it out here.


              Interested in file systems, CIFS, SMB, SAMBA and related topics then check out Chris Hertels book on implementing CIFS here at


              For those involved with VMware, check out Frank Denneman VMware vSphere 6.5 host resource guide-book here at


              I often mention in presentations a must have for anybody involved with software defined anything, or programming for that matter which is the Niklaus Wirth classic Algorithms + Data Structures = Programs that you can get on here.


              Another great book to have is Seven Databases in Seven Weeks which not only provides an overview of popular NoSQL databases such as Cassandra, Mongo, HBASE among others, lots of good examples and hands on guides. Get your copy here at


              Watch for more more items to be added to the book shelf soon.

              Events and Activities

              Recent and upcoming event activities.

              Nov. 2, 2017 - Webinar - Modern Data Protection for Hyper-Convergence
              Sep. 21, 2017 - MSP CMG - Minneapolis MN
              Sep. 20, 2017 - Webinar - BC, DR and Business Resiliency (BR) tips
              Sep. 14, 2017 - Fujifilm IT Executive Summit - Seattle WA
              Sep. 12, 2017 - SNIA Software Developers Conference (SDC) - Santa Clara CA
              Sep. 7, 2017 - Wipro SDX - Enabling, Planning Your Software Defined Journey
              August 28-30, 2017 - VMworld - Las Vegas

              See more webinars and activities on the Server StorageIO Events page here.

              Useful links and pages:
              Microsoft TechNet - Various Microsoft related from Azure to Docker to Windows
     - Various industry links (over 1,000 with more to be added soon)
     - Cloud and object storage topics, tips and news items
     - Various OpenStack related items
     - Various presentations and other download material
     - Various data protection items and topics
     - Focus on NVMe trends and technologies
     - NVM and Solid State Disk topics, tips and techniques
     - Various CI, HCI and related SDS topics
     - Various server, storage and I/O  benchmark and tools
              VMware Technical Network - Various VMware related items

              Ok, nuff said, for now.


              Hot Popular New Trending Data Infrastructure Vendors To Watch

              server storage I/O data infrastructure trends

              A common question I get asked is who are the hot popular new or trending data infrastructure vendors to watch.


              Keep in mind that there is a difference between industry adoption and customer deployment, the former being what the industry (e.g.  Vendors, resellers, integrators, investors, consultants, analyst, press, media, analysts, bloggers or other influences) like, want and need to talk about. Then there is customer adoption and deployment which is what is being bought, installed and used.


              Some Popular Trending Vendors To Watch

              The following is far from an exhaustive list however here are some that come to mind that I'm watching.

              Apcera – Enterprise class containers and management tools
                  AWS – Rolls our new services like a startup with size momentum of a legacy player
                  Blue Medora – Data Infrastructure insight, software defined management
                  Broadcom – Avago/LSI, legacy Broadcom, Emulex, Brocade acquisition interesting portfolio
                  Chelsio – Server, storage and data Infrastructure I/O technologies
                  Commvault - Data protection and backup solutions
                  Compuverde – Software defined storage
                  Data Direct Networks (DDN) – Scale out and high performance storage
                  Datadog – Software defined management, data infrastructure insight, analytics, reporting
                  Datrium – Converged software defined data infrastructure solutions
                  Dell EMC Code –  Rexray container persistent storage management
                  Docker – Container and management tools
                  E8 Storage – NVMe based storage solutions
                  Elastifile – Scale out software defined storage and file system
                  Enmotus - MicroTiering that works with Windows, Linux and various cloud platforms
                  Everspin - storage class memories and NVDIMM
                  Excelero – NVMe based storage
                  Hedvig – Scale out software defined storage
                  Huawei – While not common in the US, in Europe and elsewhere they are gaining momentum
                  Intel – Watch what they do with Optane and storage class memories
                  Kubernetes – Container software defined management
                  Liqid – Stealth Colorado startup focusing on PCIe fabrics and composable infrastructure
                  Maxta – Hyper converged infrastructure (HCI) and software defined data infrastructure vendor
                  Mellanox – While not a startup, keep an eye on what they are doing with their adapters
                  Micron – Watch what they do with 3D XPoint storage class memory and SSD
                  Microsoft – Not a  startup, however keep an eye on Azure, Azure Stack, Window Server with S2D,  ReFS, tiering, CI/HCI as well as Linux services on Windows.
                  Minio – Software defined storage solutions
                  NetApp – While FAS/Ontap and Solidfire get the headlines, E series generates revenue, keep an eye on StorageGrid and AltaVault
                  Neuvector – Container management and security
                  Noobaa – Software defined storage and more
                NVIDA – No longer just another graphics process unit based company
                  Pivot3 – An original HCI software defined players, granted, some of their competitors might not think so
                  Pluribus Networks – Software Defined Networks for Software Defined Data Infrastructures
                  Portwork – Container management and persistent storage
                  Rozo Systems – Scale out software defined storage and file system
                  Rubrik – Data Protection software, reminds me of a startup called Commvault 20 years ago.
                  ScaleMP – Composable scale out software defined servers
                  Storpool – Scale out software defined storage
                  Stratoscale – Software defined data infrastructure and hybrid solutions
                  SUSE – Linux distribution looking to expand their offerings, gain more insight
                  Tidalscale – Composable software defined data infrastructures
                  Turbonomic – Software Defined Management, insight, analytics and automation
                  Ubuntu – Known for their Linux distribution, check out their Metal as a Service (MaaS) technology
                  Veeam – Data protection and backup solutions
                  Virtuozzo – Software defined storage and data infrastructure technologies
                  VMware - AWS, vSAN, NSX, Integrated Containers and much more
                  WekaIO – Scale out software defined storage and file system

              Some Popular Trending Technology Trends

              • ARM, ASIC, FPGA, GPU servers among others
              • Converged Infrastructure (CI), Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI), Composable Infrastructure
              • Analytics, reporting, insight, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), automation
              • Software Defined including Cloud, Virtual, Containers, Docker, kubernetes, mesos, serverless, micro services
              • Data protection, backup/restore, archive, security, business resiliency (BR), business continuance (BC), disaster recovery (DR)
              • Non-volatile memory (NMV), NVM Express (NVMe), storage class memories (SCM), persistent memory, nand flash, SSD

              Where To Learn More

              Learn more about related technology, trends, tools, techniques, and tips with the following links.

              Data Infrastructures Protect Preserve Secure and Serve Information
                Various IT and Cloud Infrastructure Layers including Data Infrastructures

              What This All Means

              There are always more hot popular new or trending data infrastructure vendors to watch, which ones are you keeping an eye on?


              Ok, nuff said, for now.

              server storage I/O data infrastructure trends

              Getting Caught Up, What Happened In September?


              Seems like just yesterday it was the end of August with the start of VMworld in Las Vegas, now its the end of September and Microsoft Ignite in Orlando is wrapping up. Microsoft has made several announcements this week at Ignite including Azure cloud related, AI, IoT, Windows platforms, O365 among others. More about Microsoft Azure, Azure Stack, Windows Server, Hyper-V and related data infrastructure topics in future posts.


              Like many of you, September is a busy time of the year, so here is a recap of some of what I have been doing for the past month (among other things).


              vmworld 2017

              VMworld Las Vegas


              During VMworld US VMware announced enhanced workspace, security and endpoint solutionsPivotal Container Service (PKS) with Google for Kubernetes serverless container management, DXC partnership for hybrid cloud management, security enablement via its AppDefense solutions, data infrastructure platform enhancements including integrated OpenStack, vRealize management tools, vSAN among others. VMware also made announcements including expanded multi-cloud and hybrid cloud support along with VMware on AWS as well as Dell EMC data protection for VMware and AWS environments.


              Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials (CRC Press) at VMworld bookstore


              In other VMworld activity, my new book Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials (CRC Press) made its public debut in the VMware book store where I did a book signing event. You can get your copy of Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials which includes Software Defined Data Centers (SDDC) along with hybrid, multi-cloud, serverless, converged and related topics at Amazon among other venues. Learn more here.


              Software Defined Everything

              In early September I was invited to present at the Wipro Software Defined Everything event in New York City. This event follows Wipro invited me to present at in London England this past January at the inaugural SDx Summit event. At the New York City event my presentation was Planning and Enabling Your Journey to SDx which bridged the higher level big picture industry trends to the applied feet on the ground topics. Attendees of the event included customers, prospects, partners, various analyst firms along with Wipro personal.


              At the Wipro event during a panel discussion a question was asked about definition of software defined. After the usual vendor and industry responses, mine was a simple, put the emphasis on Define as opposed to software, with a focus on what is the resulting outcome. In other words how and what are you defining (e.g. x) which could be storage, server, data center, data infrastructure, network among others to make a particular result, outcome, service or capability. While the emphasis is around defined, that also can mean curate, compose, craft, program or whatever you prefer to create an outcome.


              Image via

              Role of Storage in a Software Defined Data Infrastructure


              At the Storage Network Industry Association (SNIA) Storage  Developers Conference (SDC) in Santa Clara I did a talk about the role of  Storage in Software Defined Data Infrastructures. The theme was that not only  is there a role, storage is fundamental and essential for any software defined  data infrastructure (as well as legacy) from cloud to container, serverless to  virtual servers, converged and hybrid among others. Other themes included the changing role of storage along  with how hardware needs software, software needs hardware, and serverless has  hardware and software somewhere in the stack. Tradecraft along with other related data infrastructure topics were also discussed.


              Data Infrastructures Protect Preserve Secure and Serve Information
              Various IT and Cloud Infrastructure Layers including Data Infrastructures


              While promoted as an event for  storage developers by storage developers, based on a lot of the content  presented, SNIA could easily increase attendance to a broader audience with  some slight tweaks as well as messaging. If SNIA is looking to focus the event only for vendor  storage developers, surprise surprise, there were developers there, however I  also talked with IT customers who were there among other non developers.  SDC IMHO is not a replacement for SNW, however with some simple  adjustments in messaging from who shouldn't attend to who should or could attend, more  attendees and sponsors might just happen appear.


              Check out the SNIA SDC presentations here, along with my presentation from the 2017 event here (among others).


              tape and cloud storage

              Tape in a Software Defined and Hybrid Cloud World


              I was invited by Fujifilm to present at their recent  9th annual executive summit in Seattle. The Fujifilm event was attended by various partners, customers and industry folks covering a diverse set of topics. Focus areas spanned from legacy IT to hyper-scale to public cloud and High-Performance  Compute (HPC) among others. Magnetic Tape (e.g. tape) may be going away from your data center,  however, chances are if you are doing or storing things in the cloud, your data may end up on tape. In other words, not only does tape continue to evolve, its place and how used (as well as accessed) is also changing. Check out the  Fujifilm site here where you can scroll down and check out mine and other  presentations from the event.


              Focus on Data Protection (and recovery)


              September also saw  hurricanes, tropical storms, flooding, earthquakes, and acts of natural events, to man-made accidental as well as intentional including software-defined threats such as ransomware, malware, virus, Equifax data information breaches, leaks, loss among other security concerns. A reminder that there are the headline-making news events, as well as those that may be more common yet not widely talked about. What this means is that big or small, full or partial damage, destruction, loss or loss of access, data protection should be proactive to enable recovery instead of an afterthought.


              Think of data protection as an investment instead of cost overhead, however that also means finding ways to spread costs out while gaining more benefit. Also remember that if something can occur, fail or happen, it probably will. In other words, the question should not be if, rather when, with what impact. This also means evolving from backup/restore, disaster recovery to business resiliency that enables your applications and data to stay available as well as accessible. In other words, how well are you prepared?

              Additional data protection related topics and content include:


              Expanding Your Data Infrastructure Tradecraft


              At the September Minneapolis St. Paul (MSP) Computer  Measurement Group (CMG) event, I gave a presentation discussing industry trends  perspectives, buzzword bingo updates including software defined, NVM (the media) vs. NVMe (the interface) benchmarking, tools, cloud,  serverless and tradecraft. Tradecraft as a refresher are those skills and  fundamental experiences you acquire over time including what tools, techniques  to use for different scenarios.


              As part of the CMG presentation, the discussion  looked at expanding your data infrastructure tradecraft into adjacent areas around  your current focus. Also discussed were the importance of context as different  words have two or more meanings. For example SAS can mean Scandinavian Air  System, Statistics Analysis Software the original unstructured and big data  tool, as well as for storage Serial Attached SCSI. However there is another  meaning for SAS which spans server, storage, networking, cloud, security and  other focus areas which is Shared Access Signature.


              Downloads the CMG and other  presentations from the Server StorageIO website here.

              Where To Learn More

              Learn more about related technology, trends, tools, techniques, and tips with the following links.

              What This All Means

              The above are some of the things I was involved with during September with themes of data infrastructure, data protection, software defined cloud, virtual, serverless containers, servers, storage, I/O networking, SSD including NVMe, performance and capacity planning, metrics that matter, management among other topics. It was great meeting many new people at the various venues this past month, likewise seeing old acquaintances and friends. Also thanks to all who have ordered copies of my new book Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials along with your comments. Check out the Server StorageIO data infrastructure update newsletter for other related activity, industry trends among other topics. Now lets see how fast October and the rest of 2017 goes.


              Ok, nuff said, for now.


              SDDC, Cloud, Converged, and Virtual Fundamental Server Storage I/O Tradecraft

              server storage I/O data infrastructure trends

              Over the past several months I have posted, commenting, presenting and discussing more about Data Infrastructures and my new book (my 4th solo project) officially announced today, Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials (CRC Press). Software Defined Data Infrastructure (SDDI) Essentials is now generally available at various global venues in hardcopy, hardback print as well as various electronic versions including via  Amazon and CRC  Press among others. For those attending VMworld 2017 in Las Vegas, I will be doing a book signing, meet and greet at 1PM Tuesday August 29 in the VMworld book store, as well as presenting at various other fall industry events.

              Software Defined Data Infrastructure (SDDI) Announcement

              (Via Businesswire) Stillwater,  Minnesota – August 23, 2017  – Server StorageIO, a leading  independent IT industry advisory and consultancy firm, in conjunction with  publisher CRC Press, a Taylor and Francis imprint, announced the release and general availability of “Software-Defined  Data Infrastructure Essentials,” a new book by Greg Schulz, noted author  and Server StorageIO founder.

              Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials

              The Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials book covers physical, cloud, converged (and hyper-converged), container,  and virtual server storage I/O networking technologies, revealing trends,  tools, techniques, and tradecraft skills.

              Data Infrastructures Protect Preserve Secure and Serve Information
              Various IT and Cloud Infrastructure Layers including Data Infrastructures

              From cloud web scale to enterprise and small environments, IoT  to database, software-defined data center (SDDC) to converged and container  servers, flash solid state devices (SSD) to storage and I/O networking,, the  book helps develop or refine hardware, software, services and management experiences,  providing real-world examples for  those involved with or looking to expand  their data infrastructure education knowledge and tradecraft skills.

              Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials book topics include:

              • Cloud, Converged, Container, and Virtual Server Storage I/O networking
              • Data protection (archive, availability, backup, BC/DR, snapshot, security)
              • Block,  file, object, structured, unstructured and data value
              • Analytics, monitoring, reporting, and management metrics
              • Industry  trends, tools, techniques, decision making
              • Local,  remote server, storage and network I/O troubleshooting
              • Performance,  availability, capacity and  economics (PACE)

              What People Are Saying About Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials Book

              “From CIOs to operations, sales to engineering, this  book is a comprehensive reference, a must-read for IT infrastructure professionals, beginners to seasoned experts,” said Tom  Becchetti, advisory systems engineer.

              "We had a front row seat watching Greg present live in our education workshop seminar sessions for ITC professionals in the Netherlands material that is in this book. We recommend this amazing book to expand your converged and data infrastructure knowledge from beginners to industry veterans."
              Gert and Frank Brouwer - Brouwer Storage Consultancy

              "Software-Defined Data Infrastructures provides the foundational building blocks to improve your craft in several areas including applications, clouds, legacy, and more.  IT professionals, as well as sales professionals and support personal, stand to gain a great deal by reading this book."
              Mark McSherry- Oracle Regional Sales Manager

              "Greg Schulz has provided a complete ‘toolkit’ for storage management along with the background and framework for the storage or data infrastructure professional (or those aspiring to become one)."
                Greg Brunton – Experienced Storage and Data Management Professional

              “Software-defined data infrastructures are  where hardware, software, server, storage, I/O networking and related services converge  inside data centers or clouds to protect, preserve, secure and serve  applications and data,” said Schulz.   “Both readers who are new  to data infrastructures and seasoned pros will find this indispensable for  gaining and expanding their knowledge.”

              SDDI and SDDC components

              More About Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials
                  Software Defined Data Infrastructures (SDDI) Essentials provides fundamental coverage of physical, cloud, converged, and virtual server storage I/O networking technologies, trends, tools, techniques, and tradecraft skills. From webscale, software-defined, containers, database, key-value store, cloud, and enterprise to small or medium-size business, the book is filled with techniques, and tips to help develop or refine your server storage I/O hardware, software, Software Defined Data Centers (SDDC), Software Data Infrastructures (SDI) or Software Defined Anything (SDx) and services skills. Whether you are new to data infrastructures or a seasoned pro, you will find this comprehensive reference indispensable for gaining as well as expanding experience with technologies, tools, techniques, and trends.

              Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials SDDI SDDC content

              This book is the definitive source providing comprehensive coverage about IT and cloud Data Infrastructures for experienced industry experts to beginners. Coverage of topics spans from higher level applications down to components (hardware, software, networks, and services) that get defined to create data infrastructures that support business, web, and other information services. This includes Servers, Storage, I/O Networks, Hardware, Software, Management Tools, Physical, Software Defined Virtual, Cloud, Docker, Containers (Docker and others) as well as Bulk, Block, File, Object, Cloud, Virtual and software defined storage.

              Additional topics include Data protection (Availability, Archiving, Resiliency, HA, BC, BR, DR, Backup), Performance and Capacity Planning, Converged Infrastructure (CI), Hyper-Converged, NVM and NVMe Flash SSD, Storage Class Memory (SCM), NVMe over Fabrics, Benchmarking (including metrics matter along with tools), Performance Capacity Planning and much more including whos doing what, how things work, what to use when, where, why along with current and emerging trends.

              Book Features

              ISBN-13: 978-1498738156
                    ISBN-10: 149873815X
                    Hardcover: 672 pages
                    (Available in Kindle and other electronic formats)
                    Over 200 illustrations and 70 plus tables
                    Frequently asked Questions (and answers) along with many tips
                    Various learning exercises, extensive glossary and appendices
                    Publisher: Auerbach/CRC Press Publications; 1 edition (June 19, 2017)
              Language: English

              SDDI and SDDC toolbox

              Where To Learn More

              Learn  more about  related technology,  trends, tools, techniques, and tips with the following links.

              Data Infrastructures Protect Preserve Secure and Serve Information
                Various IT and Cloud Infrastructure Layers including Data Infrastructures

              What This All Means

              Data Infrastructures exist to protect, preserve, secure and serve information along with the applications and data they depend on. With more data being created at a faster rate, along with the size of data becoming larger, increased application functionality to transform data into information means more demands on data infrastructures and their underlying resources.

              Software-Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials: Cloud, Converged, and Virtual Fundamental Server Storage I/O Tradecraft is for people who are currently involved with or looking to expand their knowledge and tradecraft skills (experience) of data infrastructures. Software-defined data centers (SDDC), software data infrastructures (SDI), software-defined data infrastructure (SDDI) and traditional data infrastructures are made up of software, hardware, services, and best practices and tools spanning servers, I/O networking, and storage from physical to software-defined virtual, container, and clouds. The role of data infrastructures is to enable and support information technology (IT) and organizational information applications.

              Everything is not the same in business, organizations, IT, and in particular servers, storage, and I/O. This means that there are different audiences who will benefit from reading this book. Because everything and everybody is not the same when it comes to server and storage I/O along with associated IT environments and applications, different readers may want to focus on various sections or chapters of this book.

              If you are looking to expand your knowledge into an adjacent area or to understand whats under the hood, from converged, hyper-converged to traditional data infrastructures topics, this book is for you. For experienced storage, server, and networking professionals, this book connects the dots as well as provides coverage of virtualization, cloud, and other convergence themes and topics.

              This book is also for those who are new or need to learn more about data infrastructure, server, storage, I/O networking, hardware, software, and services. Another audience for this book is experienced IT professionals who are now responsible for or working with data infrastructure components, technologies, tools, and techniques.

              Learn more here about Software Defined Data Infrastructure (SDDI) Essentials book along with cloud, converged, and virtual fundamental server storage I/O tradecraft topics, order your copy from or CRC Press here, and thank you in advance for learning more about SDDI and related topics.

              Ok, nuff said, for now.

              Intel Xeon Scalable Processors SDDI and SDDC

              server storage I/O data infrastructure trends


              Recently Intel announced a new family of Xeon  Scalable Processors (aka Purely) that for some workloads Intel claims to be on average of 1.65x  faster than their predecessors. Note your real improvement will vary based on  workload, configuration, benchmark testing, type of processor, memory, and  many other server storage I/O performance considerations.

              Intel Scalable Xeon Processors
              Image via


              In  general the new Intel Xeon Scalable Processors enable legacy and software  defined data infrastructures (SDDI), along with software  defined data centers (SDDC), cloud and other environments to support expanding  workloads more efficiently as well as effectively (e.g. boosting productivity).


              Data Infrastructures and workloads


              Some  target application and environment workloads Intel is positioning these new  processors for includes among others:

              • Machine  Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), advanced analytics, deep learning  and big data
              • Networking  including software defined network (SDN) and network function virtualization  (NFV)
              • Cloud  and Virtualization including Azure Stack, Docker and Kubernetes containers,  Hyper-V, KVM, OpenStack VMware vSphere, KVM among others
              • High  Performance Compute (HPC) and High Productivity Compute (e.g. the other HPC)
              • Storage  including legacy and emerging software defined storage software deployed as appliances,  systems or server less deployment modes.


              Features  of the new Intel Xeon Scalable Processors include:

              • New  core micro architecture with interconnects and on die memory controllers
              • Sockets  (processors) scalable up to 28 cores
              • Improved  networking performance using Quick Assist and Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK)
              • Leverages Intel Quick Assist Technology for CPU offload  of compute intensive functions including I/O networking, security, AI, ML, big  data, analytics and storage functions. Functions that benefit from Quick Assist  include cryptography, encryption, authentication, cipher operations, digital  signatures, key exchange, loss less data compression and data footprint  reduction along with data at rest encryption (DARE).
              • Optane Non-Volatile Dual Inline Memory Module  (NVDIMM) for storage class memory (SCM) also referred to by some as Persistent  Memory (PM), not to be confused with Physical Machine (PM).
              • Supports  Advanced Vector Extensions 512  (AVX-512)  for HPC and other workloads
              • Optional Omni-Path Fabrics in addition to 1/10Gb Ethernet  among other I/O options
              • Six memory channels supporting up to 6TB of RDIMM  with multi socket systems
              • From  two to eight  sockets per node (system)
              • Systems  support PCIe 3.x (some supporting x4 based M.2 interconnects)


              Note  that exact speeds, feeds, slots and watts will vary by specific server model  and vendor options. Also note that some server system solutions have two or  more nodes (e.g. two or more real servers) in a single package not to be  confused with two or more sockets per node (system or motherboard). Refer to the where to learn more section below for links to Intel benchmarks and other resources.


              Software Defined Data Infrastructures, SDDC, SDX and SDDI

              What  About Speeds and Feeds

              Watch  for and check out the various Intel partners who have or will be announcing  their new server compute platforms based on Intel Xeon Scalable Processors.  Each of the different vendors will have various speeds and feeds options that  build on the fundamental Intel Xeon Scalable Processor capabilities.


              For  example Dell EMC announced their 14G server platforms at the May 2017  Dell EMC World event with details to follow (e.g. after the Intel  announcements).


              Some  things to keep in mind include the amount of DDR4 DRAM (or Optane NVDIMM) will  vary by vendors server platform configuration, motherboards, several sockets  and DIMM slots. Also keep in mind the differences between registered (e.g.  buffered RDIMM) that give good capacity and great performance, and load reduced  DIMM (LRDIMM) that have great capacity and ok performance.


              Various nvme options

              What  about NVMe

              It's there as these systems like previous Intel models support NVMe devices via PCIe  3.x slots, and some vendor solutions also supporting M.2 x4 physical  interconnects as well.


              server storageIO flash and SSD
              Image via Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials (CRC)


              Note that Broadcom formerly known as Avago and LSI recently  announced PCIe based RAID and adapter cards that support NVMe attached devices in addition to  SAS and SATA.


              server storage data infrastructure sddi

              What  About Intel and Storage

              In  case you have not connected the dots yet, the Intel Xeon Scalable Processor  based server (aka compute) systems are also a fundamental platform for storage  systems, services, solutions, appliances along with tin-wrapped software.


              What  this means is that the Intel Xeon Scalable Processors based systems can be used  for deploying legacy as well as new and emerging software-defined storage  software solutions. This also means that the Intel platforms can be used to  support SDDC, SDDI, SDX, SDI as well as other forms of legacy and  software-defined data infrastructures along with cloud, virtual, container,  server less among other modes of deployment.

              Intel SSD
              Image Via


              Moving  beyond server and compute platforms, there is another tie to storage as part of  this recent as well as other Intel announcements. Just a few weeks ago Intel announced  64 layer triple level cell (TLC) 3D NAND solutions positioned for the client  market (laptop, workstations, tablets, thin clients). Intel with that  announcement increased the traditional aerial density (e.g. bits per square  inch or cm) as well as boosting the number of layers (stacking more bits as  well).


              The  net result is not only more bits per square inch, also more per cubic inch or  cm. This is all part of a continued evolution of NAND flash including from 2D  to 3D, MCL to TLC, 32 to 64 layer.  In  other words, NAND flash-based Solid State  Devices (SSDs) are very much still a relevant and continue to be enhanced  technology even with the emerging 3D XPoint and Optane (also available via Amazon in M.2) in the wings.


              server memory evolution
                Via Intel and Micron (3D XPoint launch)


              Keep in mind that NAND flash-based technologies were announced almost 20 years ago (1999), and are still evolving. 3D XPoint announced two years ago, along with other emerging storage class memories (SCM), non-volatile memory (NVM) and persistent memory (PM) devices are part of the future as is 3D NAND (among others). Speaking of 3D XPoint and Optane, Intel had announcements about that  in the past as well.


              Where To Learn More

              Learn  more about Intel Xeon Scalable Processors along with related technology,  trends, tools, techniques and tips with the following links.

              What This All Means

              Some say the PC is dead and IMHO that depends on what you mean or define a PC as. For example if you refer to a PC generically to also include servers besides workstations or other devices, then they are alive. If however your view is that PCs are only workstations and client devices, then they are on the decline.


              However if your view is that a PC is defined by the underlying processor such as Intel general purpose 64 bit x86 derivative (or descendent) then they are very much alive. Just as older generations of PCs leveraging general purpose Intel based x86 (and its predecessors) processors were deployed for many uses, so to are today's line of Xeon (among others) processors.


              Even with the increase of ARM, GPU and other specialized processors, as well as ASIC and FPGAs for offloads, the role of general purpose processors continues to increase, as does the technology evolution around. Even with so called server less architectures, they still need underlying compute server platforms for running software, which also includes software defined storage, software defined networks, SDDC, SDDI, SDX, IoT among others.


              Overall this is a good set of announcements by Intel and what we can also expect to be a flood of enhancements from their partners who will use the new  family of Intel Xeon Scalable Processors in their products to enable software defined data infrastructures (SDDI) and SDDC.


              Ok, nuff said (for now...).


              server storage I/O data infrastructure trends
              Updated 6/29/17


              European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) go into effect in a year on May 25 2018 are you ready?


              What Is GDPR

              If your initial response is that you are not in Europe and do not need to be concerned about GDPR you might want to step back and review that thought. While it is possible that some organizations may not be affected by GDPR in Europe directly, there might be indirect considerations. For example, GDPR, while focused on Europe, has ties to other initiatives in place or being planned for elsewhere in the world. Likewise unlike earlier regulatory compliance that tended to focus on specific industries such as healthcare (HIPPA and HITECH) or financial (SARBOX, Dodd/Frank among others), these new regulations can be more far-reaching.


              Where To Learn More

              Acronis GDPR Resources

              Quest GDPR Resources

              Microsoft and Azure Cloud GDPR Resources


              Do you have or know of relevant GDPR information and resources? Feel free to add them via comments or send us an email, however please watch the spam and sales pitches as they will be moderated.


              What This All Means

              Now is the time to start planning, preparing for GDPR if you have not done so and need to, as well as becoming more generally aware of it and other initiatives. One of the key takeaways is that while the word compliance is involved, there is much more to GDPR than just compliance as we have seen in the part. With GDPR and other initiatives data protection becomes the focus including privacy, protect, preserve, secure, serve as well as manage, have insight, awareness along with associated reporting.


              Ok, nuff said (for now...).



              Who Will Be At Top Of Storage World Next Decade?

              server storage I/O data infrastructure trends


              Data storage regardless of if hardware, legacy, new, emerging, cloud service or various software defined storage (SDS) approaches are all fundamental resource components of data infrastructures along with compute server, I/O networking as well as management tools, techniques, processes and procedures.


              fundamental Data Infrastructure resource components
              Fundamental Data Infrastructure resources


              Data infrastructures include legacy along with software  defined data infrastructures (SDDI), along with software  defined data centers (SDDC), cloud and other environments to support expanding  workloads more efficiently as well as effectively (e.g. boosting productivity).


              Data Infrastructures and workloads
              Data Infrastructure and other IT Layers (stacks and altitude levels)


              Various data infrastructures resource components spanning server, storage, I/O networks, tools along with hardware, software, services get defined as well as composed into solutions or services which may in turn be further aggregated into more extensive higher altitude offerings (e.g. further up the stack).

              IT and Data Infrastructure Stack Layers
              Various IT and Data Infrastructure Stack Layers (Altitude Levels)


              Focus on Data Storage Present and Future Predictions

              Drew Robb (@Robbdrew) has a good piece over at Enterprise Storage Forum looking at the past, present and future of who will rule the data storage world that includes several perspective predictions comments from myself as well as others. Some of the perspectives and predictions by others are more generic and technology trend and buzzword bingo focus which should not be a surprise. For example including the usual performance, Cloud and Object Storage, DPDK, RDMA/RoCE, Software-DefinedNVM/Flash/SSD, CI/HCI, NVMe among others.


              Here are some excerpts from Drews piece along with my perspective and prediction comments of who may rule the data storage roost in a decade:

              Amazon Web Services (AWS) – AWS includes cloud and object storage in the form of S3. However, there is more to storage than object and S3 with AWS also having Elastic File Services (EFS), Elastic Block Storage (EBS), database, message queue and on-instance storage, among others. for traditional, emerging and storage for the Internet of Things (IoT).


              It is difficult to think of AWS not being a major player in a decade unless they totally screw up their execution in the future. Granted, some of their competitors might be working overtime putting pins and needles into Voodoo Dolls (perhaps bought via while wishing for the demise of Amazon Web Services, just saying.


              Voodoo Dolls via
                Voodoo Dolls and image via


              Of course, Amazon and AWS could follow the likes of Sears (e.g. some may remember their catalog) and ignore the future ending up on the where are they now list. While talking about Amazon and AWS, one will have to wonder where Wall Mart will end up in a decade with or without a cloud of their own?


              Microsoft – With Windows, Hyper-V and Azure (including Azure Stack), if there is any company in the industry outside of AWS or VMware that has quietly expanded its reach and positioning into storage, it is Microsoft, said Schulz.


              Microsoft IMHO has many offerings and capabilities across different dimensions as well as playing fields. There is the installed base of Windows Servers (and desktops) that have the ability to leverage Software Defined Storage including Storage Spaces Direct (S2D), ReFS, cache and tiering among other features. In some ways I'm surprised by the number of people in the industry who are not aware of Microsoft's capabilities from S2D and the ability to configure CI as well as HCI (Hyper Converged Infrastructure) deployments, or of Hyper-V abilities, Azure Stack to Azure among others. On the other hand, I run into Microsoft people who are not aware of the full portfolio offerings or are just focused on Azure. Needless to say, there is a lot in the Microsoft storage related portfolio as well as bigger broader data infrastructure offerings.

              NetApp – Schulz thinks NetApp has the staying power to stay among the leading lights of data storage. Assuming it remains as a freestanding company and does not get acquired, he said, NetApp has the potential of expanding its portfolio with some new acquisitions. “NetApp can continue their transformation from a company with a strong focus on selling one or two products to learning how to sell the complete portfolio with diversity,” said Schulz.


              NetApp has been around and survived up to now including via various acquisitions, some of which have had mixed results vs. others. However assuming NetApp can continue to reinvent themselves, focusing on selling the entire solution portfolio vs. focus on specific products, along with good execution and some more acquisitions, they have the potential for being a top player through the next decade.


              Dell EMC – Dell EMC is another stalwart Schulz thinks will manage to stay on top. “Given their size and focus, Dell EMC should continue to grow, assuming execution goes well,” he said.

              There are some who I hear are or have predicted the demise of Dell EMC, granted some of those predicted the demise of Dell and or EMC years ago as well. Top companies can and have faded away over time, and while it is possible Dell EMC could be added to the where are they now list in the future, my bet is that at least while Michael Dell is still involved, they will be a top player through the next decade, unless they mess up on execution.


              Cloud and software defined storage data infrastructure
              Various Data Infrastructures and Resources involving Data Storage


              Huawei – Huawei is one of the emerging giants from China that are steadily gobbling up market share. It is now a top provider in many categories of storage, and its rapid ascendancy is unlikely to stop anytime soon. “Keep an eye on Huawei, particularly outside of the U.S. where they are starting to hit their stride,” said Schulz.

              In the US, you have to look or pay attention to see or hear what Huawei is doing involving data storage, however that is different in other parts of the world. For example, I see and hear more about them in Europe than in the US. Will Huawei do more in the US in the future? Good question, keep an eye on them.


              VMware – A decade ago, Storage Networking World (SNW) was by far the biggest event in data storage. Everyone who was anyone attended this twice yearly event. And then suddenly, it lost its luster. A new forum known as VMworld had emerged and took precedence. That was just one of the indicators of the disruption caused by VMware. And Schulz expects the company to continue to be a major force in storage. “VMware will remain a dominant player, expanding its role with software-defined storage,” said Schulz.

              VMware has a dominant role in data storage not just because of the relationship with Dell EMC, or because of VSAN which continues to gain in popularity, or the soon to be released VMware on AWS solution options among others. Sure all of those matters, however, keep in mind that VMware solutions also tie into and work with other legacies as well as software-defined storage solution, services as well as tools spanning block, file, object for virtual machines as well as containers.


              "Someday soon, people are going to wake up like they did with VMware and AWS," said Schulz. "That’s when they will be asking 'When did Microsoft get into storage like this in such a big way.'"


              What the above means is that some environments may not be paying attention to what AWS, Microsoft, VMware among others are doing, perhaps discounting them as the old or existing while focusing on new, emerging what ever is trendy in the news this week. On the other hand, some environments may see the solution offerings from those mentioned as not relevant to their specific needs, or capable of scaling to their requirements.


              Keep in mind that it was not that long ago, just a few years that VMware entered the market with what by today's standard (e.g. VSAN and others) was a relatively small virtual storage appliance offering, not to mention many people discounted and ignored VMware as a practical storage solution provider. Things and technology change, not to mention there are different needs and solution requirements for various environments. While a solution may not be applicable today, give it some time, keep an eye on them to avoid being surprised asking the question, how and when did a particular vendor get into storage in such a big way.


              Is Future Data Storage World All Cloud?

              Perhaps someday everything involving data storage will be in or part of the cloud.


              Does this mean everything is going to the cloud, or at least in the next ten years? IMHO the simple answer is no, even though I see more workloads, applications, and data residing in the cloud, there will also be an increase in hybrid deployments.


              Note that those hybrids will span local and on-premise or on-site if you prefer, as well as across different clouds or service providers. Granted some environments are or will become all in on clouds, while others are or will become a hybrid or some variation. Also when it comes to clouds, do not be scared, be prepared. Also keep an eye on what is going on with containers, orchestration, management among other related areas involving persistent storage, a good example is Dell EMCcode RexRay among others.

              Server Storage I/O resources
              Various data storage focus areas along with data infrastructures.


              What About Other Vendors, Solutions or Services?

              In addition to those mentioned above, there are plenty of other existing, new and emerging vendors, solutions, and services to keep an eye on, look into, test and conduct a proof of concept (PoC) trial as part of being an informed data infrastructure and data storage shopper (or seller).


              Keep in mind that component suppliers some of whom like Cisco also provides turnkey solutions that are also part of other vendors offerings (e.g. Dell EMC VxBlock, NetApp FlexPod among others), Broadcom (which includes Avago/LSI, Brocade Fibre Channel, among others), Intel (servers, I/O adapters, memory and SSDs), Mellanox, Micron, Samsung, Seagate and many others.

              E8, Excelero, Elastifile (software defined storage), Enmotus (micro-tiering, read Server StorageIOlab report here), Everspin (persistent and storage class memories including NVDIMM), Hedvig (software defined storage), NooBaa, Nutanix, Pivot3, Rozo (software defined storage), WekaIO (scale out elastic software defined storage, read Server StorageIO report here).


              Some other software defined management tools, services, solutions and components  I'm keeping an eye on, exploring, digging deeper into (or plan to) include Blue Medora, Datadog, Dell EMCcode and RexRay docker container storage volume management, Google, HPE, IBM Bluemix Cloud aka IBM Softlayer, Kubernetes, Mangstor, OpenStack, Oracle, Retrospect, Rubrix, Quest, Starwind, Solarwinds, Storpool, Turbonomic, Virtuozzo (software defined storage) among many others


              What about those not mentioned? Good question, some of those I have mentioned in earlier Server StorageIO Update newsletters,  as well as many others mentioned in my new book "Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials" (CRC Press). Then there are those that once I hear something interesting from on a regular basis will get more frequent mentions as well. Of course, there is also a list to be done someday that is basically where are they now, e.g. those that have disappeared, or never lived up to their full hype and marketing (or technology) promises, let's leave that for another day.


              Where To Learn More

              Learn  more about  related technology,  trends, tools, techniques, and tips with the following links.

              Data Infrastructures and workloads
              Data Infrastructures Resources (Servers, Storage, I/O Networks) enabling various services


              What This All Means

              It is safe to say that each new year will bring new trends, techniques, technologies, tools, features, functionality as well as solutions involving data storage as well as data infrastructures. This means a usual safe bet is to say that the current year is the most exciting and has the most new things than in the past when it comes to data infrastructures along with resources such as data storage. Keep in mind that there are many aspects to data infrastructures as well as storage all of which are evolving. Who Will Be At Top Of Storage World Next Decade? What say you?


              Ok, nuff said (for now...).




              server storage I/O trends

              Broadcom aka Avago aka LSI announces SAS SATA NVMe Adapters with RAID

              In case you missed it, Broadcom formerly known as Avago who bought the LSI adapter and RAID card business announced shipping new SAS, SATA and NVMe devices.


              While SAS and SATA are well established continuing to be deployed for both HDD as well as flash SSD, NVMe continues to evolve with a bright future. Likewise, while there is a focus on software-defined storage (SDS), software defined data centers (SDDC) and software defined data infrastructures (SDDI) along with advanced parity RAID including erasure codes, object storage among other technologies, there is still a need for adapter cards including traditional RAID.


              Keep in mind that while probably not meeting the definition of some software-defined aficionados, the many different variations, permutations along with derivatives of RAID from mirror and replication to basic parity to advanced erasure codes (some based on Reed Solomon aka RAID 2) rely on software. Granted, some of that software is run on regular primary server processors, some on packaged in silicon via ASICs or FPGAs, or System on Chips (SOC), RAID on Chip (RoC) as well as BIOS, firmware, drivers as well as management tools.


              SAS, SATA and NVMe adapters


              For some environments cards such as those announced by Broadcom are used in passthru mode effectively as adapters for attaching SAS, SATA and NVMe storage devices to servers. Those servers may be deployed as converged infrastructures (CI), hyper-converged infrastructures (HCI), Cluster or Cloud in Box (CiB) among other variations. To name names you might find the above (or in the not so distant future) in VMware vSAN or regular vSphere based environments, Microsoft Windows Server, Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) or Azure Stack, OpenStack among other deployments (check your vendors Hardware Compatibility Lists aka HCLs). In some cases these cards may be adapters in passthru mode, or using their RAID (support various by different software stacks). Meanwhile in other environments, the more traditional RAID features are still used spanning Windows to Linux among others.


              Who Is Broadcom?

              Some of you may know of Broadcom having been around for many years with a focus on networking related technologies. However some may not realize that Avago bought Broadcom and changed their name to Broadcom. Here is a history that includes more recent acquisitions such as Brocade, PLX, Emulex as well as LSI. Some of you may recall Avago buying LSI (the SAS, SATA, PCIe HBA, RAID and components) business not sold to NetApp as part of Engenio. Also recall that Avago sold the LSI flash SSD business unit to Seagate a couple of years ago as part of its streamlining. That's how we get to where we are at today with Broadcom aka formerly known as Avago who bought the LSI adapter and RAID business announcing new SAS, SATA, NVMe cards.


              What Was Announced?


              Broadcom has announced cards that are multi-protocol supporting Serial Attached SCSI (SAS), SATA/AHCI as well as NVM Express (NVMe) as basic adapters for attaching storage (HDD, SSD, storage systems) along with optional RAID as well as cache support. These cards can be used in application servers for traditional, as well as virtualized SDDC environments, as well as storage systems or appliances for software-defined storage among other uses. The basic functionality of these cards is to provide high performance (IOPs and other activity, as well as bandwidth) along with low latency combined with data protection as well as dense connectivity.


              Specific features include:

              • Broadcom’s Tri-Mode SerDes Technology enables  the operation of NVMe, SAS or SATA devices in a single drive bay, allowing for  endless design flexibility.
              • Management software including LSI Storage Authority (LSA), StorCLI, HII  (UEFI)
              • Optional CacheVault(R) flash cache protection
              • Physical dimension Low Profile 6.127” x 2.712”
              • Host bus type x8 lane PCIe Express 3.1
              • Data transfer rates SAS-3 12Gbs; NVMe up to 8 GT/s PCIe Gen 3
              • Various OS and hypervisors host platform support
              • Warranty 3 yrs, free 5x8 phone support, advanced replacement option
              • RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, and 60


              Note that some of the specific feature functionality may be available at a later date, check with your preferred vendors HCL



              9480    8i8e

              9440    8i

              9460    8i

              9460    16i


              Broadcom 9480 8i83 nvme raid

              Broadcom 9440 8i nvme raid

              Broadcom 9460 8i nvme raid

              Broadcom 9460 16i nvme raid

              Internal Ports





              Internal Connectors

              2 x Mini-SAS HD x4 SFF-8643

              2 x Mini-SAS HD x4 SFF-8643

              2 x Mini-SAS HD x4 SFF-8643

              4 Mini-SAS HD x4

              External Ports





              External Connectors

              2 x Mini-SAS HD    SFF8644




              Cache Protection

              CacheVault CVPM05


              CacheVault CVPM05

              CacheVault    CVPM05

              Cache Memory

              2GB 2133 MHz DDR4    SDRAM


              2GB 2133 MHz DDR4    SDRAM

              4GB 2133 MHz DDR4    SDRAM

              Devices Supported

              SAS/SATA: 255, NVMe:    4 x4, up to 24 x2 or x4*

              SAS/SATA: 63, NVMe:    4 x4, up to 24 x2 or x4*

              SAS/SATA: 255, NVMe:    4 x4, up to 24 x2 or x4*

              SAS/SATA: 255, NVMe:    4 x4, up to 24 x2 or x4*

              I/O Processors (SAS Controller)

              SAS3516 dual-core RAID-on-Chip (ROC)

              SAS3408 I/O    controller (IOC)

              SAS3508 dual-core    RAID-on-Chip (ROC)

              SAS3516 dual-core RAID-on-Chip (ROC)


              In case you need a refresher on SFF cable types, click on the following two images which take you to where you can learn more, as well as order various cable options. PC Pit Stop has a good selection of cables (See other SFF types), connectors and other accessories that I have used, along with those from and others.


              Available via sff 8644 8643 sas mini hd cable

              Left: SFF 8644 Mini SAS HD (External), Right SFF-8643 Mini SAS HD (internal) Image via


              Available via sff 8644 8642 sas mini hd cable

              Left: SFF 8643 Mini SAS HD (Internal), Right SFF-8642 SATA with power (internal) Image via

              Wait, Doesnt NVMe use PCIe

              For those who are not familiar with NVMe and in particular U.2 aka SFF 8639 based devices, physically they look the same (almost) as a SAS device connector. The slight variation is if you look at a SAS drive, there is a small tab to prevent plugging into a SATA port (recall you can plug SATA into SAS. For SAS drives that tab is blank, however on the NVMe 8639 aka U.2 drives (below left) that tab has several connectors which are PCIe x4 (single or dual path).


              What this means is that the PCIe x4 bus electrical signals are transferred via a connector, to backplane chassis to 8639 drive slot to the drive. Those same 8639 drive slots can also have a SAS SATA connection using their traditional connectors enabling a converged or hybrid drive slot so to speak. Learn more about NVMe here (If the Answer is NVMe, then what were and are the questions?) as well as at


              NVMe U.2 8639 driveNVMe U.2 8639 sas sata nvme drive
              Left NVMe U.2 drive showing PCIe x4 connectors, right, NVMe U.2 8639 connector

              Who Is This For?

              These cards are applicable for general purpose IT and other data infrastructure environments in traditional servers among others uses. They are also applicable for systems builders, integrators and OEMs whom you may be buying your current systems from, or future ones.

              Where to  Learn More

              The following are additional resources to learn more about vSAN and related technologies.

              What this  all means

              Even as the industry continues to talk and move towards more software-defined focus, even for environments that are serverless, there is still need for hardware somewhere. These adapters are a good sign of the continued maturing cycle of NVMe to be well positioned into the next decade and beyond, while also being relevant today. Likewise, even though the future involves NVMe, there is a still a place for SAS along with SATA to coexist in many environments. For some environment there is a need for traditional RAID while for others simply the need for attachment of SAS, SATA and NVMe devices. Overall, a good set of updates, enhancements and new technology for today and tomorrow, now, when do I get some to play with? ;).


              Ok, nuff said (for now...).


              server storage I/O trends

              Dell EMC Azure Stack Hybrid Cloud Solution

              Dell EMC have announced their Microsoft Azure Stack hybrid cloud platform solutions. This announcement builds upon earlier statements of support and intention by Dell EMC to be part of the Microsoft Azure Stack community. For those of you who are not familiar, Azure Stack is an on premise extension of Microsoft Azure public cloud.


              What this means is that essentially you can have the Microsoft Azure experience (or a subset of it) in your own data center or data infrastructure, enabling cloud experiences and abilities at your own pace, your own way with control. Learn more about Microsoft Azure Stack including my experiences with and installing Technique Preview 3 (TP3) here.


              software defined data infrastructures SDDI and SDDC

              What Is Azure Stack

              Microsoft Azure Stack is an on-premise (e.g. in your own data center) private (or hybrid when connected to Azure) cloud platform. Currently Azure Stack is in Technical Preview 3 (e.g. TP3) and available as a proof of concept (POC) download from Microsoft. You can use Azure Stack TP3 as a POC for learning, demonstrating and trying features among other activities. Here is link to a Microsoft Video providing an overview of Azure Stack, and here is a good summary of roadmap, licensing and related items.


              In summary, Microsoft Azure Stack and this announcement is about:

              • A onsite, on-premise,  in your data center extension of Microsoft  Azure public cloud
              • Enabling private and hybrid  cloud with good integration along with shared  experiences with Azure
              • Adopt, deploy, leverage cloud on your terms and timeline  choosing what works best for you
              • Common processes,  tools, interfaces, management and user experiences
              • Leverage speed of  deployment and configuration with a purpose-built integrated  solution
              • Support existing and cloud-native  Windows, Linux, Container and other services
              • Available as a public preview via software download, as well  as vendors offering solutions

              What Did Dell EMC Announce

              Dell EMC announced their initial  product, platform solutions, and services  for Azure Stack. This includes a Proof of  Concept (PoC) starter kit (PE R630) for doing evaluations, prototype, training,  development test, DevOp and other initial activities with Azure Stack. Dell EMC also announced a larger for production  deployment, or large-scale development, test DevOp activity turnkey solution. The  initial production solution scales from 4 to 12 nodes, or from 80 to 336 cores  that include hardware (server compute, memory, I/O and networking, top of rack  (TOR) switches, management, Azure Stack software along with services.  Other aspects of the announcement include initial  services in support of Microsoft Azure Stack and Azure cloud offerings.

              server storage I/O trends
              Image via Dell EMC


              The announcement builds on joint Dell EMC Microsoft  experience, partnerships, technologies and services spanning hardware,  software, on site data center and public cloud.

              server storage I/O trends
              Image via Dell EMC


              Dell EMC along with Microsoft have engineered a hybrid cloud  platform for organizations to modernize  their data infrastructures enabling faster innovate, accelerate deployment of resources. Includes hardware  (server compute, memory, I/O networking, storage devices), software, services, and support.
              server storage I/O trends
              Image via Dell EMC


              The value proposition  of Dell EMC hybrid cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack includes consistent  experience for developers and IT data infrastructure professionals. Common experience across Azure public cloud and Azure  Stack on-premise in your data center for private or hybrid. This  includes common portal, Powershell,  DevOps tools, Azure Resource Manager (ARM), Azure Infrastructure as a Service  (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS), Cloud Infrastructure and associated  experiences (management, provisioning, services).
              server storage I/O trends
              Image via Dell EMC


              Secure, protect, preserve and serve applications VMs hosted  on Azure Stack with Dell EMC services along with Microsoft technologies. Dell  EMC data protection including backup and restore, Encryption as a Service, host  guard and protected VMs, AD integration among other features.
              server storage I/O trends
              Image via Dell EMC


              Dell EMC services for Microsoft Azure Stack include single contact support for prepare, assessment, planning; deploy with rack  integration, delivery, configuration;  extend the platform with applicable migration,  integration with Office 365 and other applications,  build new services.
              server storage I/O trends
              Image via Dell EMC


              Dell EMC Hyper-converged scale out solutions range from minimum of 4 x PowerEdge R730XD (total raw specs include 80 cores (4 x 20), 1TB RAM (4 x 256GB), 12.8TB SSD Cache, 192TB Storage, plus two top of row network switches (Dell EMC) and 1U management server node. Initial maximum configuration raw specification includes 12 x R730XD (total 336 cores), 6TB memory, 86TB SSD cache, 900TB storage along with TOR network switch and management server.


              The above configurations initially enable HCI nodes of small (low) 20 cores, 256GB memory, 5.7TB SSD cache, 40TB storage; mid size 24 cores, 384GB memory, 11.5TB cache and 60TB storage; high-capacity with 28 cores, 512GB memory, 11.5TB cache and 80TB storage per node.
                server storage I/O trends
              Image via Dell EMC


              Dell EMC Evaluator program for Microsoft Azure Stack including the PE R630 for PoCs, development, test and training environments. The solution combines Microsoft Azure Stack software, Dell EMC server with Intel E5-2630 (10 cores, 20 threads / logical processors or LPs), or Intel E5-2650 (12 cores, 24 threads / LPs). Memory is 128GB or 256GB, storage includes flash SSD (2 x 480GB SAS) and HDD (6 x 1TB SAS). and networking.
              server storage I/O trends
              Image via Dell EMC


              Collaborative support single contact between Microsoft and Dell EMC

              Who Is This For

              This announcement is  for any organization that is looking for an  on-premise, in your data center private or hybrid cloud turnkey solution  stack. This initial set of announcements can be for those looking to do a proof  of concept (PoC), advanced prototype,  support development test, DevOp or gain cloud-like elasticity, ease of use, rapid procurement and other experiences of public  cloud, on your terms and timeline. Naturally,  there is a strong affinity and seamless experience for those already using, or  planning to use Azure Public Cloud for Windows,  Linux, Containers and other workloads, applications,  and services.

              What Does This Cost

              Check with your Dell EMC representative  or partner for exact pricing which  varies for the size and configurations.  There are also various licensing models to take into consideration if you have Microsoft Enterprise  License Agreements (ELAs) that your Dell EMC representative  or business partner can address for you. Likewise being cloud based, there is also time usage-based  options to explore.

              Where to learn more

              What this  all means

              The dust is starting to settle on last falls Dell EMC  integration, both of whom have long histories working with, and partnering  along with Microsoft on legacy, as well as virtual software-defined data centers (SDDC), software-defined data infrastructures  (SDDI), native, and hybrid clouds. Some may view the Dell EMC VMware relationship as a primary  focus, however, keep in mind that both Dell and EMC had worked with Microsoft long before VMware came into being. Likewise, Microsoft remains one of the most commonly  deployed operating systems on VMware-based  environments. Granted Dell EMC have a significant  focus on VMware, they both also sell, service and support many services for Microsoft-based solutions.


              What about Cisco, HPE, Lenovo among others who have to announce or discussed their Microsoft  Azure Stack intentions? Good question, until we hear more about what those and  others are doing or planning, there is  not much more to do or discuss beyond speculating  for now. Another common question is if there is demand  for private and hybrid cloud, in fact,  some industry expert pundits have even said private,  or hybrid are dead which is interesting, how can something be dead if it is  just getting started. Likewise, it is  early to tell if Azure Stack will gain traction with various organizations,  some of whom may have tried or struggled with OpenStack among others.


              Given a large number  of Microsoft Windows-based servers on VMware, OpenStack, Public cloud services  as well as other platforms, along with continued growing popularity of Azure,  having a solution such as Azure Stack provides an attractive option for many environments. That leads to the question  of if Azure Stack is essentially a replacement for Windows Servers or Hyper-V  and if only for Windows guest operating systems. At this point indeed, Windows  would be an attractive and comfortable option, however, given a large number  of Linux-based guests running on Hyper-V  as well as Azure Public, those are also primary candidates as are containers  and other services.


              Overall, this is an excellent  and exciting move for both Microsoft  extending their public cloud software stack to be  deployed within data centers in a hybrid way, something that those  customers are familiar with doing. This  is a good example of hybrid being spanning public and private clouds, remote  and on-premise, as well as familiarity  and control of traditional procurement with the flexibility, elasticity experience  of clouds.


              software defined data infrastructures SDDI and SDDC


              Some will say that if OpenStack is struggling in many organizations  and being free open source, how Microsoft can have success with Azure Stack.  The answer could be that some organizations  have struggled with OpenStack while others have not due to lack of commercial  services and turnkey support. Having installed both OpenStack and Azure Stack  (as well as VMware among others), Azure Stack is at least the TP3 PoC is easy  to install, granted it is limited to one node,  unlike the production versions. Likewise,  there are easy to use appliance versions of OpenStack that are limited in  scale, as well as more involved installs that unlock full functionality.


              OpenStack, Azure Stack, VMware and others have their places,  along, or supporting containers along with other tools. In some cases,  those technologies may exist in the same environment supporting different  workloads, as well as accessing various public clouds, after all, Hybrid is the  home run for many if not most legality IT environments.

              Overall this is a good announcement from Dell EMC for those who are interested in, or should become more aware about Microsoft Azure Stack, Cloud along with hybrid clouds. Likewise look forward to hearing more about the solutions from others who will be supporting Azure Stack as well as other hybrid (and Virtual Private Clouds).


              Ok, nuff said (for now...).