A cloud storage architecture for the enterprise


Tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google have redefined IT for web-scale applications, leveraging standard servers and shared-nothing architectures to ensure maximum operational efficiency, flexibility, and reliability. As new application workloads – cloud, mobile, IoT, machine learning, and real-time analytics – drive the need for faster and more scalable storage, enterprises are seeking to optimize their infrastructures in the same way as these tech giants.

Excelero’s NVMesh—a unified, scale-out, software-defined, block storage solution that runs on industry standard servers—was designed in response to these needs. NVMesh leverages NVMe high-performance flash, a highlydistributed architecture, intelligent clients that minimize cluster communications, and a proprietary storage access protocol that bypasses the CPU on storage targets.

The result is a high-performance block storage system, with extremely low latency overhead. In a nutshell, server access to remote storage devices is a mere 5 microseconds (µs) slower than access to local devices, and that overhead is mostly in the network. Further, NVMesh can be flexibly deployed as converged (combining compute and storage) or “disagreggated” (storage server or JBOD) infrastructure, and scales simply and granularly by adding drives or nodes to the cluster.

As storage has moved from the mechanical world of hard drives to the silicon world of SSDs, we have experienced rapid improvements in performance, capacities, and reliability. Today, the absolute tops in flash storage interfaces is NVMe, which is powered by a much faster protocol that eliminates the bottleneck of ATA and SCSI.

for an audience of tech analysts:

The tests were performed on about $13,000 worth of hardware, including

  • One Supermicro 2028U-TN24RT+ 2U dual-socket server with up to 24 NVMe 2.5-inch drive slots
  • Two 2x100Gbs Mellanox ConnectX-5 100Gbs ethernet/RDMA NICs
  • 24 Intel 2.5-inch 400GB NVMe SSDs
  • One Dell Z9100-ON switch supporting 32x100Gbs QSFP28 ports

The system generated 2.5M IOps for 4KB random writes and 4.5M IOps for 4KB random reads. Random write average response time was less than 350 microseconds and the random read average response time was 227 microseconds. During the 4.5M IOps random read benchmark, the storage target CPU was at 0.3 percent utilization (mostly running Linux services to display process status).

A new generation of storage

Excelero NVMesh is a software-defined storage solution designed to meet the requirements of web-scale applications. It leverages state-of-the-art NVMe flash and industry standard servers to deliver consistent, low-latency, high-performance block storage that also meets the cost, scalability, flexibility, and reliability requirements of the modern data center.

NVMesh facilitates performant and cost-effective converged deployments by avoiding noisy neighbor disruptions and effectively disaggregating compute and storage logically without having to do so physically. The key is a new architecture that combines direct access to remote storage devices by clients, a client-side storage service implementation, and a scalable communication pattern.

Scalability is achieved by careful design choices for the communication patterns and scale-out components for the management, control, and data planes. And by providing a block storage API and volume definition flexibility, NVMesh allows administrators to decide how to balance performance, data layout, and availability in the way that meets their requirements.

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