NVM Express® (NVMe®) Host Controlled Data Center Migration for Hyperscalers and the Enterprise


By: Mike Allison, Sr. Director NAND Product Planning – Standards, Samsung

The data center demand has continued to flourish with the ongoing growth of remote work, high-speed internet access, video streaming and more. With this increased influx of data center utilization for customer data management alongside growing cybersecurity concerns, hyperscalers and enterprise data centers are experiencing rising demand to provide efficient data center environments capable of maintaining customer data securely. Additionally, it is essential that data centers can maintain server space adequately and ensure each customer has the necessary access for their data management needs.

Introducing NVM Express® (NVMe®) Host Managed Live Migration

NVMe Host Managed Live Migration addresses data center management and security concerns by supporting the migration of virtual machines (VMs) in data centers while enhancing data center maintenance processes. Live Migration includes protocols that allow the host to place a VM, the NVMe controllers used by that VM and the attached namespaces to those NVMe controllers into a static condition. The VMs are then subsequently migrated to another NVMe subsystem where they can continue their normal operations.

Pausing the controller during the migration puts that controller into a static state that enables the data center to maintain the state between each of these subsystems and ensure that they are not aware that a migration occurred. Concealing the migration processes within the data center allows the host to protect against data security concerns while maintaining migration capabilities.

Live Migration also provides the necessary services to establish communication between a host and an NVMe subsystem to allow for controller migration—necessary updates for the NVMe family of specifications. By enabling a standardized VM migration methodology, both NVMe devices and the enterprise and hyperscale data centers utilizing NVMe technology will experience increased scalability and efficiency.

Challenges and Use Cases Addressed with Live Migration

The implementation of the Live Migration feature is part of the NVM Express organization’s ongoing efforts to ensure the NVMe family of specifications remains scalable and usable for long-term future enhancements. By including vendor-specific options in the specification, NVM Express is continuing to deliver advancements that keep the software stack both accessible and future-proof while establishing the capabilities needed to efficiently migrate today’s data sets.

Additionally, data centers can utilize Live Migration to easily clean and service their servers without disrupting data flow for customers by migrating VMs to other operational systems during the process.Live Migration also enables load balancing in the data center, which is the process of ensuring a customer’s specific amount of requested server space is available and can be utilized. With load balancing, the data center can easily migrate VMs to balance servers and allot customers’ server space accordingly.

Learn More

NVM Express is expanding the features in the NVMe family of specifications to help keep up with changes across enterprise and hyperscale data center management. To learn more about Live Migration, view the NVM Express Host Managed Live Migration presentation during our Flash Memory Summit (FMS) 2023 sponsored speaker track. Furthermore, the NVM Express also presented Host Managed Live Migration presentations at the SNIA Storage Developer Conference (SDC) and OCP Global Summit last year.

If you’re a member of NVM Express, make sure to attend the NVM Express Technical Work Groups to participate in the NVMe feature development process. If you’re not currently a member of NVM Express, consider joining to help participate in the development of this key industry standard.