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Cloud Service Provider deploys End-to-End FCoE

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.

CTC-Deploy

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?

 

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 been able 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)

10G-FCoE-Uplink

FCoE-is-FC

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, this FCoE link is carrying dedicated SAN traffic without requiring any convergence of LAN traffic. To add to that, 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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Who’s deploying Multi-Hop FCoE? – Part II

Continuing the blog series (Part-I) on the production deployment designs and the real-world benefits of Multi-Hop FCoE infrastructure, this blog features University of Siegen, based in Germany.

siegenBefore delving into the details, a bit of background -- The University of Siegen is a modern educational institution with a strong international profile. Its 17,500 students and 1700 staff are based in eight locations around the town of Siegen in Germany, although more than 11 percent of students come from other countries. The BYOD, e-learning initiatives and other research applications were putting the university’s IT environment under pressure. So, the University was looking to optimize IT services for educational and operational efficiency and as well to introduce the latest technology for future-proofing their Data Center. 

Using the Cisco “wire-once, enable anywhere” design philosophy, the University connected the old storage environment, which is based on Fibre Channel, with the new FCoE domain. Cisco UCS server is connected to the Director-Class Cisco Nexus 7000 platform, which in turn is connected via Multi-hop FCoE to Cisco MDS 9000 SAN Director. The newer FCoE Storage array is connected directly to Nexus 7000 for the End-to-End FCoE connectivity.

Siegen-Dep

The benefits to using Cisco Unified Fabric infrastructure were quite significant  Read More »

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Who’s deploying Multi-Hop FCoE? – Part I

While FCoE technology has been standardized for quite some time now, most FCoE deployments have been upto the access layer of the network.  Multi-hop FCoE deployments are gaining traction increasingly. Many a times, I get asked to share the production deployment designs and the real-world benefits of Multi-Hop FCoE infrastructure. So, in this series of blogs, I plan to share the same. In this blog, the spotlight is on a division of the world’s largest aerospace company, Boeing Defense, Space, and Security (BDS).

Boeing-LogoBDS provides end-to-end services for large-scale systems and supports a diverse range of customers, including the U.S. Army, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). When the global recession hit the aerospace industry in 2010, BDS came under extreme pressure to cut costs. Dual network topologies, both FC and IP, were adding complexity to the network. BDS needed to reduce the TCO and at the same time increase the network agility, improve scalability and maintain highest availability possible.

As a result, the company decided to adopt FCoE to consolidate its IP and SAN data traffic on a single network. Since 2010, BDS has extended its use of FCoE and is now 100 percent Multi-hop FCoE. BDS deployed End-to-End FCoE architecture with Nexus 5000 at the access layer, the Director-class Nexus 7000 at the Core, connected to the FCoE Storage Arrays.

Boeing-Deployment

For BDS, the shift to the new Cisco Unified Fabric infrastructure and leveraging FCoE has delivered unparalleled value to the organization.  Read More »

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Storage Distance by Protocol, Part IV: Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE)

September 12, 2013 at 12:38 pm PST

In the past articles we’ve talked about doing distance extension for SANs, focusing first on building the physical elements that are required, before moving on to how Fibre Channel can be extended using buffer credits.

In this article we’re going to talk about how it is best to think of extending Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) SANs (finally!).

I know, I know, I start off this whole shebang by saying I’m going to talk about FCoE and distance, and it takes me this long to get to it? Sheesh! Read More »

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