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StorOne connects HDDs with NVMe-oF

StorOne extended NVMe-oF to SAS HDDs, bringing some of the NVMe benefits to the older technology before NVMe hard drives hit the market while reducing costs of NVMe-oF.

StorOne is offering an update that can reduce the cost of NVMe-oF by using existing hardware.

Running the NVMe interface over HDDs is a development first introduced by Seagate last year. While no vendor has brought a native NVMe HDD product to market yet, StorOne is opening up the benefits of NVMe now through a free upgrade that will bring NVMe-oF, an extension of the NVMe transport protocol, to a customer's existing HDDs.

NVMe-oF extends the NVMe protocol over a farther distance instead of just within an array or server. NVMe-oF is traditionally thought of as a flash technology, but many customers either don't have only flash or want to use hard drives for archive -- and that is what StorOne is offering, according to George Crump, chief marketing officer at StorOne.

A gateway between new and old technologies

Last year, StorOne extended NVMe-oF with NVMe-oF over TCP as a free upgrade. Now, the vendor is extending NVMe-oF to existing HDDs. The update means StorOne can act as a bridge between NVMe flash to SAS SSDs and SAS HDDs supporting the protocols under the NVMe-oF umbrella, Crump said.

The update gives customers access to some of the benefits of NVMe while avoiding the loss of an NVMe slot from a faster technology to a slower technology, such as from an SSD to an HDD, according to Crump. All the NVMe SSDs will still be available, with the added benefit of higher-capacity and lower-cost HDDs falling under the same protocol, Crump said.

StorOne also believes the upgrade could reduce an ongoing HDD pain point -- latency. It stated that it saw reductions of up to 35% in internal testing.

The technology sounds promising, but not as promising as NVMe HDDs, according to Ed Burns, an analyst at IDC. NVMe HDDs could eliminate parts of the hardware stack, whereas the StorOne update adds complexity to it.

"If you can have everything on NVMe, you can eliminate a lot of the hardware and you can eliminate a lot of the protocol that needs to be written," Burns said.

StorOne's upgrade doesn't have all the advantages that come with using NVMe HDDs, but it could still simplify things from an end-user perspective, he said.

HDDs aren't going anywhere

StorOne offers all-flash and hybrid arrays and competes with all-flash vendor Pure Storage. With hybrid storage arrays and the new NVMe-oF capabilities, Crump said that StorOne is hoping to make a better cost-per-IOPS and density argument. Customers need to be open to the idea that hard drives can provide the performance needed in certain use cases while being more cost-effective, he said.

Burns said that in talking with customers he's found a 70/30 split between data stored on hard drives versus flash. With such a large amount of data being put on cold and warm tiers, it makes more sense to use cheaper HDDs than SSDs for storage, he added.

Access is also a concern for companies. On any given day, customers might only be able to obtain one type of drive, but with the StorOne update, they can now use any type of drive with NVMe-oF, according to StorOne.

The StorOne update allows customers to integrate old hardware, Crump said. StorOne can take qualified hardware like JBODs or JBOFs, SAS attach them to StorOne, and use NVMe to present them across the network. This makes an even more attractive dollar-per-IOPS argument, as well as dealing with supply chain issues, he said.

The update is available now.

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