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Learn How Nutanix Blockstore Transforms Core Data Path to Leverage NVMe and SPDK

  • 21 September 2020
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Learn How Nutanix Blockstore Transforms Core Data Path to Leverage NVMe and SPDK
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This post was authored by Bhavik Desai, Nutanix

Nutanix has been disrupting enterprise IT infrastructure for over a decade now, evolving from servicing VDI and dev/test workloads to powering the most demanding and performance-intensive workloads for more than 17,000 customers, across industries and around the world. When Nutanix engineers began designing AOS, the software foundation of hyperconverged infrastructure, they made some key architectural decisions that resulted in a very resilient, highly scalable, and performant architecture. Some of them were:

  • Fine-grained metadata, which enables flexible and dynamic data management, which also provides fast recoveries during failure scenarios and migrations.
  • Dynamic data management, enabling AOS to keep active data locally on the same node where the application is residing. Data locality helps in providing optimal performance to applications without having to traverse the network.

With newer versions of AOS, Nutanix engineers have made further enhancements in the software stack to optimize performance. One of them was Autonomous Extent Store (AES), which combined data locality with metadata locality by splitting metadata into global logical metadata, and local physical metadata, which optimized sustained write performance.

Figure 1: Autonomous Extent Store

As storage media has become faster with the arrival of SSDs and the NVMe protocol, Nutanix engineers have further optimized the software stack to realize the true potential of advancements in storage media. With the latest release of AOS, Nutanix has delivered Blockstore, which optimizes the I/O data path. Blockstore builds on the foundation laid by fine-grained metadata, data locality, and AES to fully leverage the superior performance provided by new storage technologies.

Figure 2: Controller VM data path

Rohit Jain, Principal Engineer at Nutanix, explains in this concise video the motivation for building Blockstore, it’s architecture, and the benefits it provides. By moving more processes into user space, and bypassing the kernel, the datapath is far more efficient, dramatically improving performance, reducing latency, and increasing fault isolation. These Nutanix architectural innovations not only enable our platform to fully exploit the power of today’s most advanced storage media, like NVMe and Optane, but the next generation as well.


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2 replies

What will need to happen to upgrade to blockstore? Does the upgrade to 5.18.xx automatically enable blockstore?

What will need to happen to upgrade to blockstore? Does the upgrade to 5.18.xx automatically enable blockstore?

Just found out that blockstore only works on nodes that have atleast 1 NvME drive so that doesnt really help us until we can upgrade all of our nodes. 

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