NetApp brings NVMe over TCP to ONTAP via the iSCSI upgrade path

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NetApp is upgrading its accelerated storage access for its iSCSI-using FAS and AFF array customers by adding fast NVMe-over-TCP access to ONTAP for iSCSI users in general.

NVMe-over-TCP allows remote direct memory access for data using an Ethernet TCP link. The idea to use NVMe like this (extending the PCIe bus across a network fabric) with NVMe-oF, was first developed using lossless Ethernet (RoCE) and then extended to Fibre Channel, which is already supported by NetApp.

Eric Burgener, the research Veep, Infrastructure Systems, Platforms, and Technologies Group at IDC, made a statement about the faster-than-expected adoption of NVMe-based, all-flash arrays in recent years.

The ubiquity of NVMs/TCP

Burgener said that technologies like NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF) will continue to spur the evolution of the enterprise storage industry.

NVMe/TCP should be a key technology in driving mainstream market adoption due to its ease of deployment and prevalence.

Since it is based on Ethernet, it does not need new hardware investments and is particularly suitable for hybrid-cloud deployments. NetApp is specifically announcing the next major release of ONTAP, v10.0, which will include NVMe/TCP support.

The cabling is right there

NetApp’s SVP for Hybrid Cloud Engineering says that there will be an easy upgrade path for NVMe/TCP in the coming release, which might be here before 2021 ends.

NVMe/TCP is not quite as fast as NVMe over ROCE or FC. However, it is much faster than the standard iSCSI or Fibre Channel Access to SAN data.

Because NVMe/TCP uses standard Ethernet, the same cables can support iSCSI external storage access at radically faster speeds. Adding NVMe/TCP support to ONTAP gives users existing ONTAP features like data reduction, management, protection, storage efficiency, and more.