We have known Dr. J Metz (@drjmetz, blog), Chair of SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) BoD, for over a decade now and he has always been an intelligent industry evangelist. DrJ was elected Chair of SNIA BoD in 2020.
SNIA has been instrumental in the evolution of storage over the years working to help define storage networking, storage form factors, storage protocols, etc. Over the years it’s been crucial to the high adoption of storage systems in the enterprise and still is.. Listen to the podcast to learn more.
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SNIA started out helping to define and foster storage networking before people even knew what it was. They were early proponents of plugfests to verify/validate compatibility of all the hardware, software and systems in a storage network solution.
One principal that SNIA has upheld, since the very beginning, is strict vendor and technology neutrality. SNIA goes out of it’s way to insure that all their publications, media and technical working group (TWGs) committees maintain strict vendors and technology neutrality.
The challenge with any evolving technology arena is that new capabilities come and go with a regular cadence and one cannot promote one without impacting another. Ditto for vendors, although vendors seem to stick around a bit longer.
One SNIA artifact that has stood well the test of time is the SNIA dictionary. Free to download and free copies available at every conference that SNIA attends. The dictionary covers just about every relevant acronym, buzzword and technology present in the storage networking industry today as well as across its long history.
SNIA also presents and pushes the storage networking point of view at every technical alliance in the IT industry. .
In addition, SNIA holds storage conferences around the world, as well as plugfests and hackathons focused on the needs of the storage industry. Their Storage Developer Conference (SDC), coming up in September in the USA, is a highly technical conference specifically targeted at storage system developers.
SDC presenters include many technology inventors driving the leading edge of storage (and memory, see below) industries. So, if you are developing storage systems, SDC is a must attend conference.
As for plugfests, SNIA has held FC storage networking plugfests over the years which have been instrumental in helping storage networking adoption.
We also talked about SNIA hackathons. Apparently a decade or so back, SNIA held a hackathon on SMB (the file protocol formerly known as CIFS) where most of the industry experts and partners doing work on SAMBA (open source SMB implementation) and SMB proprietary software were present.
At the time, Jason was working for another company, developing an SMB protocol. While attending the hackathon, Jason found that he was able to develop 1-1 relationships with many of the lead SMB/SAMBA developers and was able to solve problems in days that would have taken months before.
SNIA also has technology alliances with just about every other standards body involved in IT infrastructure, software and hardware today. As an indicator of where they are headed, SNIA recently joined with CNCF (Cloud Native Computing Foundation) to push for better storage under K8s.
SNIA has TWGs focused on technological areas that impact storage access. One TWG that has been going on now, for a long time, is Swordfish, an extension to the DMTF Redfish that focuses on managing storage.
Swordfish has struggled over the years to achieve industry adoption. We spent time discussing some of the issues with Swordfish, but honestly, IMHO, it may be too late to change course.
Given the recent SNIA alliance with CNCF, we started discussing the state of storage under K8s and containers. DrJ and Jason mentioned that storage access under K8s goes through so many layers of abstraction that IO performance is almost smothered in overhead. The thinking at SNIA is we need to come up with a better API that bypasses all this software overhead to directly access hardware.
SNIA’s been working on SDXI (Smart Data Acceleration Interface), a new hardware memory to memory, direct path protocol. Apparently, this is a new byte level, (storage?) protocol for moving data between memories. I believe SDXI assumes that at least one memory device is shared. The other could be in a storage server, smartNIC, GPU, server, etc. If SDXI were running in your shared memory and server, one could use the API to strip away all of the software abstraction layers that have built up over the years to accessi shared memory at near hardware speeds
DrJ mentioned was NVMe as another protocol that strips away software abstractions to allow direct access to (storage) hardware. The performance of Optane and SSDs (and it turns out disks) was being smothered by SCSI device protocols/abstrations that were the only way to talk to storage devices in the past. But NVM and NVMe came along, and stripped all the non-essential abstractions and protocol overhead away and all of a sudden sub 100 microsecond IO’s were possible.
Dr. J Metz, SNIA Chair & Technical Director AMD
J is the Chair of SNIA’s (Storage Networking Industry Association) Board of Directors and Technical Director for Systems Design for AMD where he works to coordinate and lead strategy on various industry initiatives related to systems architecture. Recognized as a leading storage networking expert, J is an evangelist for all storage-related technology and has a unique ability to dissect and explain complex concepts and strategies. He is passionate about the innerworkings and application of emerging technologies.
J has previously held roles in both startups and Fortune 100 companies as a Field CTO, R&D Engineer, Solutions Architect, and Systems Engineer. He has been a leader in several key industry standards groups, sitting on the Board of Directors for the SNIA, Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA), and Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe). A popular blogger and active on Twitter, his areas of expertise include NVMe, SANs, Fibre Channel, and computational storage.
J is an entertaining presenter and prolific writer. He has won multiple awards as a speaker and author, writing over 300 articles and giving presentations and webinars attended by over 10,000 people. He earned his PhD from the University of Georgia.