Powering SQL Servers on an NVMe All-Flash Array

Posted by VIOLIN SYSTEMS on Sep 28, 2020 3:39:39 PM

If you need to arrive at an appointment on time and you know you need to take a highway that gets jammed up right at rush hour, wouldn’t you prefer to take a high-speed detour, one with 64,000 lanes instead of just one?

SQL servers are being adopted by organizations at breakneck speed thanks to the features and functions they can perform with ease. It’s like buying a high-powered hotrod. But if that hotrod is always stuck in traffic without a chance to hit its top speeds, are you truly taking advantage of your investment?

SQL servers are a lot like your favorite sports car: They’re sleek and designed to go fast. What we’re suggesting? You need a wide-open highway to fully enable the power of your SQL server: You need NVMe.

What Is NVMe Protocol?

Non-volatile memory express, or NVMe for short, is a kind of storage technology. It’s a communications standard for solid-state drives (SSD), which allows the driver to operate even faster than before.

For many years, storage was the hurdle preventing even SSDs from operating to their fullest potential. This hurdle created a bottleneck. But with NVMe technology, that bottleneck has opened up. Why is this? NVMe SSDs can be four times faster than even the fastest previous SSD technology iterations.

NVMe is an optimized, high-performance and scalable host controller interface. It has a streamlined interface and command set that was designed specifically for low latency.

NVMe is also a kind of protocol; it defines a standard for how the software stack is structured. Essentially, NVMe eliminates the need for custom drivers that were required with earlier SSDs. NVMe technology was built from the ground up to support SSDs with a streamlined memory interface, command set and queue design.

The Benefits of NVMe

The benefits of NVMe technology can be broken down into two separate categories: performance and compatibility:

  • Performance: Since it was built with SSDs in mind, NVMe solid state drives don’t have to support legacy protocols. With this technology in place, you can take full advantage of memory-based storage. This means that the flash-based storage has low latency because it can support many more input/output operations per second (IOPS). NVMe also means that users can access more data per central processing unit (CPU) cycle, where older systems needed one cycle for each access. This technology is designed to accelerate data between computer tiers and storage layers. In execution, NVMe SSDs offer microsecond latency—record-breaking IPOS and 550,000 random write IOPS.
  • Compatibility: Most data centers and IT professionals choose NVMe SSDs for their compatibility. There is one software interface standard, which means there’s no need to manufacture your own. IT professionals can choose vendors based on their own preferences, capability needs and cost, not on compatibility for memory-based storage.

Combining the Power of NVMe and SQL Servers

NVMe technology can be a true game changer for your IT team when paired with your SQL server. Why is this? SQL servers are designed for high-performance storage and low latency. What else has been engineered to deliver unbeatable performance and eliminate latencies? NVMe.

We’ve discussed the importance of powering a SQL server using an all-flash array, but on its own, an all-flash array doesn’t entirely rid your system of latency or performance issues. All-flash arrays, with their SSDs, were designed to reach 1 million IOPS, but they’ve been restrained by legacy storage systems, which were built for spinning disk drives. This created a bottleneck situation, which greatly limited the reading and writing power of the all-flash array.

Unlike these older legacy systems, NVMe protocol was designed with SSDs in mind; it eliminates the bottleneck that you see in some all-flash arrays, giving you a previously unavailable level of performance.

What does this mean for your SQL server? You’re pairing the power of two technologies designed for high-performance applications and low latencies for a completely frictionless system.

SQL servers benefit from NVMe because this combination equates to more order processing and data analysis. You get a higher workload concentration and greater cost savings.

NVMe for SQL Servers: The Details

So how does NVMe empower your SQL server to do more than ever before? And what does that mean for your operations?

Essentially, NVMe is a persistent memory protocol, which capitalizes on many parallels, low-latency data paths sending and receiving data to the underlying media all at once. These protocols are leaner and require no tuning from you, which makes your database management system simpler and more streamlined.

NVMe is far faster than legacy systems like serial AT attachment (SATA) or statistical analysis systems (SAS). Think of each of these as a highway. NVMe storage can support as many as 64,000 queues with 64,000 entries each. If SATA and SAS systems are like one-lane highways that are prone to frequent traffic jams or slowed traffic, NVMe is like getting on a 64,000-lane highway.

When you partner your SQL server with NVMe protocol, you accelerate all of your existing applications, even the ones that require high levels of performance, like those that use artificial intelligence or machine learning. When you need reliable, consistent, extreme performance? NVMe has got your back.

Even better than boosting the power of your existing applications? NVMe is enabling all kinds of new applications and capabilities for real-time workload processing at the data center—even at the edge.

But that’s not all.

All-flash arrays that use NVMe technology like VIOLIN’s storage will lower your energy usage and cut down on your technology footprint. And even with less required performance tuning, you get 100-percent performance even at 100-percent capacity.

What’s even better? VIOLIN’s NVMe-powered all-flash array will cut your total number of needed SQL server licenses by as much as 90 percent!

Pairing SQL and NVMe means you improve your business outcomes, reduce your total cost of operation, and finally get you the power and speed you need.

VIOLIN Systems wants to help you optimize the power of your SQL server—your hot rod. We’ll get you up to speed with our NVMe, all-flash array highway. Our team at VIOLIN Systems is ready to help you shift into a higher gear.

Ready to learn more? Contact us today!

Topics: SQL, All Flash Array, NVMe