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Summary : Unmatched Flexibility with Multi-Protocol Connectivity…End-To-End!

March 7, 2014 at 9:35 am PST

Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future” – Jedi Master Yoda.
Yoda image credit: www.yodaquotes.net

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“Planning for the future can be challenging . To effectively prepare for the unknown it is best to design into any plans, the added flexibility. This is especially true with IT. ” wrote Amit Jain  AmitJain

In a very clear article , published for the NetApp Community , Amit explores solutions  to wire your data center storage network once with a flexible network technology that can be re-configured through software to run any storage protocol

Wether you are ready to make the transition from FC to Ethernet or not, Amit suggests elegant architectures which provide maximum flexibility.
He explains on one hand the primary reasons to adopt Multi-hop and end-to-end FCoE, on the other hand the advantages of Cisco 10 Gigabit Ethernet networks with Unified Port (UP), and the new functionalities provided by NetApp Unified Target Adapter (UTA 2), which prepare you for a future transition if you decide to wait .

“Ethernet-based data center infrastructures offer a degree of future-proofing because the physical transport can support multiple protocols and data traffic types, including block and file storage traffic”  insists  Amit.

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To stay ahead of the game, I encourage you to read here the full article, and to check Amit’s series of blogs on customer adoption of end-to-end Ethernet-based Multi-protocol storage networks.

Follow Amit Jain on Twitter  @amitjain_Leo

 

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Cisco MDS 9250i Multiservice Switch, General Availability:Order Today!

Cisco launched MDS 9250i Multiservice Switch, the Next Gen storage services platform in 2013 and today we are announcing the general availability of MDS 9250i Multiservice Switch, the first fixed 16GFC platform available in the MDS series.

The MDS 9250i eliminate service sprawl and offers a single platform for multiprotocol storage, like Fibre Channel, FCoE, FICON, FCIP, and iSCSI. On top of being a protocol multi-tool, the MDS 9250i provides high-performance SAN Extension solutions that leverage a rich set of Storage Services (i.e  IO Accelerator (IOA), and Data Mobility Migration (DMM).) Specifically, it offers:

  • 40 Ports of line-rate16G FC,
  • 8 Ports 10GE FCoE and
  • 2 Ports 10GE FCIP/iSCSI

Cisco MDS 9250i is available through partners as of today.  Please check with OSM’s for availibility dates.

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Read More »

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Who’s deploying Multi-hop FCoE? – Part III

November 19, 2013 at 9:04 am PST

Previously, we saw how Boeing division (BDS) and University of Siegen have deployed Multi-hop FCoE and realized significant benefits. This blog highlights similar benefits achieved by Engineering Shared Infrastructure Services (ESIS) department at Netapp.

NetappNetapp’s ESIS department delivers and maintains end-to-end compute, storage, and network resources for internal Development and Quality Assurance engineers. These resources provide a platform for the innovation that creates storage systems and software, ultimately empowering NetApp customers around the world to store, manage, protect, and retain their data. The requirement was to have agility and versatility in providing storage connectivity between rack/blade Cisco UCS servers and NetApp clustered Data ONTAP storage arrays.

So, Netapp ESIS implemented an integrated model using Cisco Unified Fabric that supports FCoE from the UCS Servers through the Nexus Series Switches all the way to NetApp storage controllers.

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This Unified Fabric architecture reduced the number of management points and provided easy scalability. The TCO benefits were quite significant -- Netapp saved $300K in the hardware costs, more than $80,000 in the implementation costs and 1/3 of an FTE’s time Read More »

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Cloud Service Provider deploys End-to-End FCoE

November 13, 2013 at 10:50 am PST

In one of my earlier blogs, -- “How to get more SAN mileage….” -- I had highlighted how one can deploy End-to-End FCoE using a converged Director-class platform, like Nexus 7000, connected directly from the converged access switch, like UCS FI, in order to get the utmost agility. Well, this is how ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC), a Cloud Service provider, deployed its network to get significantly higher mileage.

CTCCTC provides a wide range of IT services for business customers in Japan. The company’s Cloud Platform Group recently launched its innovative ElasticCUVIC shared private cloud service, which helps customers reduce infrastructure cost and management complexity. With large numbers of VMs, CTC wanted to simplify its data center architecture and IT management while optimizing scalability.  The challenge was to deliver high-performance, easy-to-manage cloud services at scale.

The company evaluated several storage networking solutions and turned to Cisco for Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) solutions, which greatly simplify the infrastructure and management. CTC built its two newest data centers in Yokohama and Kobe with ultra-high performance and flexibility in mind. CTC implemented an End-to-End FCoE architecture using Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switches, Cisco UCS servers, and FCoE connections between the switches, servers, and FCoE storage arrays.

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With the converged FCoE architecture, ElasticCUVIC is enabling CTC customers to gain Read More »

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How to get more SAN mileage out of UCS FI?

October 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm PST

 

Image Credit: Wikispeed.org

Mileage (miles per gallon) is one of the important criteria while buying any automobile and once bought, it is highly desirable to hit the maximum advertised mileage without significantly changing the driving habits or the routes (highway vs city mpg). Well, I have not beenable to achieve that yet, so being a geek, I focused my attention on a different form of mileage (throughput per switch-port) that interests me at work. So in this blog, I would explore a way to get more SAN mileage from the Cisco UCS FI (Fabric Interconnect) without significantly affecting the SAN admin’s day-to-day operations.

Context:

Just a bit of background before we delve into the details -- The I/O fabric between the UCS FI and the UCS Blade Server Chassis is a converged fabric, running FCoE. The usage of FCoE within the UCS fabric is completely transparent to the host operating system, and any Fibre Channel block storage traffic traverses this fabric as the FCoE traffic. So, a large number of over 20,000+ UCS customers, using Block Storage, are already using FCoE at the access layer of the network.

Choices:

Now, the key question is what technology, FC or FCoE, to use northbound on the FI uplink ports to connect to an upstream Core switch for the SAN connectivity. So, what are the uplink options? Well, the FI has Unified ports and the choice is using the same uplink port as either 8G FC -or- 10G FCoE. [Note that when using the FCoE uplink, it is not a requirement to use a converged link and one can still use a dedicated FCoE link for carrying pure SAN traffic].

Observations:

1)    Bandwidth for Core Links: This is a very important aspect for the core part of the network. It is interesting to note that 10G FCoE provides almost 50% more throughput than the 8G FC. This is because FC has a different bit encoding and clock-rate than Ethernet, and so 8G FC yields 6.8G throughput while 10G FCoE yields close to 10G throughput (post 1-2% Ethernet frame overhead)

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2)   Consistent Management ModelFCoE is FC technology with same management and security model, so it will be a seamless transition for a SAN admin to move from FC to FCoE with very minimal change in the day-to-day operations. Moreover, if the UCS FI is running in the NPV mode, then technically the FCoE link between the UCS FI and the upstream SAN switch does not constitute a Multi-Hop FCoE design, as the UCS FI is not consuming a Domain-ID, and the bulk of SAN configurations like zoning etc. need to happen on only the Core SAN switch, thus maintaining the same consistent SAN operational model as with just the FC.

3)    Investment Protection with Multi-protocol flexibility: By choosing FCoE uplink from the converged access layer, one can still continue to use the upstream MDS core SAN Director switch as-is, providing the connectivity to existing FC Storage arrays. Note that Cisco MDS 9000 SAN Director offers Multi-protocol flexibility so that one can Interconnect FCoE SANs on the Server-side with the FC SANs on the Storage-side.

And, we have a winner… Read More »

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