If we go back to 2009, the work to define NVM Express (NVMe) had just begun, and around that same time, Microsoft Azure made its first major purchase of Serial ATA (SATA) based solid-state drives (SSDs) to help accelerate its storage servers by offloading the storage commit log. Microsoft knew that non-volatile memory (e.g, NAND Flash) would become very important for cloud computing, although it was still very expensive and restricted to use in limited applications.
It was also clear to Microsoft that the SATA interface would be unsuitable to handle the performance of future high performance SSDs.In 2011, as NVM Express had just had its first revision published, a competing standards proposal came on the scene called SCSI Express.
SCSI Express was designed to use the traditional SCSI command set (including three decades of legacy infrastructure for hard drives) on top of the PCI Express interface. Looking at the technical merits, there was consensus in the Microsoft Windows and Azure teams that NVMe was the better interface definition for NAND Flash and to scale to future NVM technologies (e.g., 3D XPoint™ Technology, MRAM, etc). Microsoft worried that competing standards would lead to many headaches in the market, and thus, Microsoft Azure decided at the time to support the NVMe standard and collaborate with other industry leaders promoting NVMe including Cisco, Dell, Intel, Micron, Microsemi, NetApp, Oracle, Samsung, Seagate, WD to avoid bifurcation of the market by investing in NVMe to ensure it met the needs of the Cloud.
In this article, we will describe the journey of the past five years, where today NVMe is the predominant SSD interface used by Microsoft Azure.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

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