Since its ratification in last November, NVMe/TCP is gaining significant momentum in the storage arena — in large part because of its availability in the mainline Linux kernel and the fact that it is based on an industry standard guaranteeing vendor neutrality and interoperability. With NVMe/TCP transport drivers included in the Linux kernel v5.0 (since March) and with more of the main Linux distributions adding support for this technology, it is becoming increasingly easy for users to trust in the stability and maturity of the different NVMe-oF solutions.
Technology MUST first be consumable in order to be viable, regardless of how innovative it is. Now as with any new technology, propagation from upstream into the mainstream distributions takes time, but it is key to its success. The main Linux distributions are the ones that really power the vast majority of the world’s computer systems. One cannot underestimate the power of technology working “out-of-the-box” eliminating the friction of SW compatibility when it is upgrading constantly. Hence, the availability of NVMe/TCP support in the main Linux distributions plays a key role in its adoption in the field, making it ready for “prime time”.
Now those of us that are really serious about NVMe-oF, know that the most resilient disaggregated storage systems are highly available, clustered and distributed. Multipathing is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to fabrics. NVMe offers native multipathing capabilities since kernel v4.15 and added support for the standard “Asymmetric Namespace Access” multipathing scheme in kernel v4.19. NVMe native multipathing is extremely efficient and will guarantee interoperability and correct operation across the vendors in the industry. So the adoption of NVMe-oF products also depends on proper multipathing supported by the OS distribution.
Here is the current list of some of the primary certified Linux distributions that now include more recent upstream Linux features such as NVMe/TCP and NVMe native multipathing:
For those that have yet to upgrade to one of these new Linux distributions, Lightbits also offers back-ported NVMe/TCP host drivers for several popular OS distributions and can add more based on customer and user demand.
A year since its ratification, most of the major Linux distributions are adopting NVMe/TCP, making it a mainstream technology that is viable and consumable. In the coming months, you can expect more of the same. We anticipate all Linux distributors will soon include support for a modern NVMe stack including NVMe/TCP and native multipathing. Stay tuned!