SNIA SDC 2018 Recap


October 5, 2018

The iXsystems team descended upon the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA)’s Storage Developer Conference last week in full force. SDC is an unrelenting technical conference, packed full of technical sessions, keynotes, Birds of a Feather events, at least one plugfest running throughout, and a very active hallway track. This year, we presented two technical sessions, led two Birds of a Feather sessions, and participated in the SMB plugfest. 
The hottest topics at SDC this year were not dissimilar from last year. There was a large NVMe track with discussions mostly focusing on building a fabric of NVMe devices between hosts over RDMA, Fibre Channel, or even TCP!

Persistent Memory – see my blog post from the 2018 Persistent Memory Summit – had a decent track as well, focusing both on real-world examples of using Persistent Memory as well as addressing some of the challenges facing those using it. My talk this year – Real-World Performance Advantages of NVDIMM and NVMe: A Case Study with OpenZFS – showcased the advantage of persistent memory from a device level and how that translated into a real-world usage: as a SLOG in an OpenZFS storage solution – just like in the TrueNAS M-series.

Speaking of OpenZFS, it was featured in at least two other technical sessions. iXsystems Senior Analyst Michael Dexter’s Combating Evolving Ransomware at the Block Level discussed the evolving ransomware threat, and how OpenZFS is an ideal vendor-neutral file system for combating it. David Bonnie’s talk MarFS, Marchive, and GUFI – Long Term Storage Strategies at LANL provided an architectural overview of how Los Alamos uses a huge number of OpenZFS RAIDZ3 pools as the basis for their long-term storage needs. Finally, iXsystems hosted an OpenZFS Birds of a Feather session, drawing over a dozen participants.

No SDC would be complete without a whole slew of SMB-related talks! This year did not disappoint, with updates from Microsoft and the Samba team. The goal of the Samba team is to make SMB the de-facto general purpose way to access file data across a network. With the near completion of the SMB3 POSIX protocol extensions, I think this goal may be realized much sooner than I ever expected.

This year, iXsystems participated in the SMB plugfest at SDC. At the plugfest, vendors test their products together to ensure interoperability between platforms – we made sure FreeNAS and TrueNAS were represented! In fact, in one technical session, a member of the Samba project was heard saying FreeNAS was their get-out-of-jail-free card for alternate data stream support over SMB, because FreeBSD has a very comprehensive implementation of alternate data streams!
I was thrilled to meet several FreeNAS enthusiasts during my time at SDC this year – including a few of my fellow speakers! I polled the audience before my session and asked if anyone was using OpenZFS and several hands shot up. With so much open source innovation on display, we decided to host an Open Source Birds of a Feather session. Most attendees were already leveraging open source software, but a few were representing companies that were interested in leveraging open source. 

One last topic to cover is SNIA Swordfish, which is an open standard for the management of storage. Swordfish is based upon DMTF’s Redfish standard, which is gaining traction as an open standard for the management of servers. The basic goal of the standard is to provide a vendor-neutral interface for interacting with storage solutions, so storage can be allocated, monitored, and managed using a common language – no matter what vendor implemented the underlying storage system. Do you want to see Swordfish support in your storage systems? Do you already use the Redfish capabilities that are likely in your newer servers?

These are some of the most interesting highlights from SDC 2018 but by no means a complete collection. The slides from this and previous years’ talks can be found at the SNIA SDC website. I look forward to attending, and hopefully presenting again, at SDC 2019 next year!
Nick Principe, Technical Marketing Engineer

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