Storage Short Take #20

In Storage, Technology by J Michel Metz4 Comments

Some free tutorial info, storage company updates, and a special bonus announcement. Oh, and a whole lot of Supercomputing ’19 announcements. As always, links were valid at the time of publication.

Storage Media and Technology

Neil Anderson has created a series on the Basics of Fibre Channel. It’s a four-part course that touches on the key elements that are worth knowing about:

Sony announced at Supercomputing 19 (hereafter shortened to “SC19”) their Gen 3 Optical Disc Archive with 500GB Disc and 5.5GB Cartridge. I believe this is up from their earlier version of a 3.3TB cartridge, but I confess I’m not an expert in this area.

Mellanox is upping the ante when it comes to high-speed inter-Data Center connectivity. They recently announced LongReach systems for extending 100Gb IB up to 40km.

HPE has released a customer bulletin to implement a critical firmware upgrade for certain HPE SAS SSDs to prevent drive failure. The note contains the list of affected SSDs and links to the drive firmware.

As we learn more about the standards process, it’s important to note that every organization has its own way of doing things. Fibre Channel, for instance, works under the guidance of INCITS. In this Part III of the blog series by Barry Maskas, you’ll learn what INCITS is all about. You can check out all the blogs in this series on the FCIA website here.

VentureBeat has a go at explaining Optane and 3D XPoint to laypeople. Not bad job of it, too.

Meanwhile Chris Mellor goes for the technical jugular with an overview of Intel DAOS high performance storage.

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Storage Companies in the News

MemVerge has announced an open-source solution for “shuffle data to be stored in an external storage system.” It works with Apache Spark software users looking for a performance boost, and are calling it “Splash.” If you’re not familiar with MemVerge, they do a persistent-memory version of Hyperconverged Infrastructure, calling it “Memory Converged Infrastructure.” Without knowing too much about the new software, it sounds to me like this is the Persistent Memory (PM)-equivalent of “Disaggregated Hyperconvergence,” where the extra capacity can hang off the main I/O path. If I’m wrong, I’d love to be corrected on this.

Viking Enterprise (evidently the enterprise arm of Viking the Memory Company?) is tackling PCIe 4.0 for NVMe with capacities up to 734TB in a 2RU chassis. They’re calling it a “storage solution” but from what I can tell it is actually simply an AMD server with PCIe 4.0 NVMe drives. That is, I don’t see any means to use this device as a SAN, NAS, or even eBOF, but rather simply a server with wicked fast internal storage. If I’m missing something, I’m open to being corrected and better informed. [Update: Gilad Hilton sent me a message with some additional thoughts: “As far as I understand it is a dual server system with dual port NVMe drives. So you can easly use this system to expose the SSD over fabric using open source SW and create an eBOF. Also, Viking Enterprise is the rebranding of newisys which is part of Sanmina.”]

Sadly, I cannot find the source for this wonderful photo

StorageNewsletter (again, time-limited page) shows off Liqid’s “Software Disaggregation for Converged Servers” platform in a pretty comprehensive manner. Including something called “GPU over Fabrics.” It appears the company is coming through its debutante ball swinging for the fences. How’s that for a mixed metaphor?

Got a spare $B? Dell/EMC could be planning on turning RSA loose.

QNAP has been upping it’s Data Center game for a while now, even including Fibre Channel into their lineup. Now they’ve launched a File-based Cloud gateway application that integrates multiple public cloud services.

It may not be a direct response to QNAP, but now it’s Synology’s turn to fire back, with an Active-Active IP SAN for mission critical environments. However, I’m concerned that it only has a single 10GbE connection, which raises significant questions about just how HA the device actually is.

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Industry Associations and Standards

SNIA has announced that Swordfish™ v1.1.0a is now an official Technical Position. There are a lot of updates to this document, including several enhancements for provisioning and profiles. In case you’re not familiar with Swordfish, it extends the DMTF’s Redfish® Specification for Scalable Storage Management. This version of the specification has been updated to include Features and Profiles, enhancements for volumes, storage pools and consistency groups have been added, and class of service has become an optional feature. It also includes a new type of schema for Redfish Device Enablement (RDE).

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Webinars and Conferences

Amazon recently put together a Storage Day to discuss several ongoing projects. It would have been nice if they had an inclusion of the latest updates to Outpost and Nitro, but you can’t have everything, I suppose. Nevertheless, there were enough to fill a lot of time, including:

  • AWS Storage Gateway
  • Fix for Windows File Server
  • S3
  • DataSync

You can also read the blog from AWS’ Chief Evangelist, Jeff Barr.

StorageNewsletter calls SC19 one of the Largest Storage Events. Due to some personal circumstances (more on that below), I was unable to attend this year, but it sounds like they may be right. What used to be the purview of academics and high-performance computing (HPC) geeks is now really hitting the mainstream. Check out their full report on SC19, while it lasts.  (Note: you should probably read this soon if you don’t have a paid subscription to StorageNewsletter, as they tuck it behind a paywall after a couple of weeks from publication.)

If you’re curious about what’s happening with NVMe 2.0, you can listen to the recent SNIA podcast with me, Nick Adams (from Intel), and David Woolf (from UNH Interoperability Lab).

SNIA Webinars

Data Privacy & Why it Matters
Wednesday, December 11, 2019
10:00 am PT / 1:00 pm ET

Failing to protect sensitive information can put a lot of people at risk of being exploited by cybercriminals, and can make a company face enormous legal penalties. The way information is shared and stored can put the information at risk. It is risky to store personal information on portable devices, which are easily lost or stolen. In addition, the consequences of a data breach can be devastating. Identity theft could lead to financial losses, and a company could face lawsuits and legal penalties. This presentation will cover what kinds of personal information must be protected & guidelines for keeping this info safe.

Where Does SPDK Fit in the NVMe-oF Landscape?
Thursday, January 9, 2020
10:00 am PT / 1:00 pm ET

The Storage Performance Development Kit (SPDK) has gained industry-wide recognition as a framework for building highly performant and efficient storage software with a focus on NVMe™. This includes software drivers and libraries for building NVMe-oF™ host and target solutions. In this presentation, technical leaders from SPDK will provide an overview of the project, NVMe-oF use cases that are best suited for SPDK, and insights into how SPDK achieves its storage networking performance and efficiency.

What a Year It Was – and Where We Need To Go on Emerging Memory
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
11:00 am PT / 2:00 pm ET

Get prepared for SNIA’s Persistent Memory Summit with this webcast from Objective Analysis and Coughlin Associates. Following up on their 2018 groundbreaking report on emerging memories, Jim Handy and Tom Coughlin will update us on 2019 advances in support from SNIA, the launch of Optane memory on DIMMs, new MRAM types, and more. You won’t want to miss their analysis on the progress made, and their perspective on the groundwork that still needs to be covered to bring persistent memory to mainstream computing.

SNIA Annual Members Symposium will be held January 20-24, 2020 in Santa Clara, CA.

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Synology News

Synology has updated its Active Backup solutions, but to be honest I’ve been having quite a few issues with not only their software, but their entire strategy. I haven’t gone off the brand… yet… but there are some major issues that I have concerning how fragmented and contradictory their software roadmap appears to be.

Please see earlier Storage Short Takes for additional Synology advisories. Some of those vulnerabilities are still active.

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Bonus Round

As I publish this (on December 2, 2019), I also officially announce that I am no longer working for Cisco. It has been an amazing run, and a powerful experience, but I’m ready to do the next big thing.

I leave Cisco having been, ultimately, enriched by the experience. Cisco’s reputation is well-deserved, and well-earned. I would never have gained the platform and soapbox, such that I have, if it were not for being able to stand on the reputation and brand that is Cisco Systems.

Not the exact scene, but close

However, there is a time when you need to know when to move forward, and when to stay put. One of my favorite movie lines comes from Fat Man and Little Boy, where General Leslie Groves tells Robert Oppenheimer, “You build to a moment. Then you grab it. Or it’s gone.”

In my case, I’ve been building to a moment for a while now, and finally saw that it had arrived. I realized I need to grab it, before it was gone.

For those who care, I’ll be giving more information in the days ahead right here on this blog. 🙂

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Thanks to my good friends Jack Poller and Diane Marsili who helped contribute items to this Short Take.


  1. J, feel free to call on me if there is any way in which I can be helpful. After all, I have to keep track of you as I come up with new ways to abscond with your letter. Best of luck in your life after Cisco.

    Lance A. Leventhal

    1. Author

      Thank you, sir. I will most certainly take you up on that offer. I need to keep my bobbing and weaving skills up to speed in order to hang on to it. 😛

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