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FCOE. Can’t we all just get along?

March 6, 2012 at 12:51 am PST

I was sitting in a room with a client the other day and normally in these conference rooms with the mahogany tables and high back leather chairs*, you have Cisco on one side of the table, and the client on the other. However, this wasn’t the case, as the table was formica and the chairs were folding.  Also, in the room was two groups that had never spoken before except in rare cases, “The network is down!” or “Our hosts can’t see their storage!”  Yes my friends, it was the LAN and SAN folks in the room.  The topic of FCoE was in front of us and the question was around their soon to be deployed Nexus 5000 switching infrastructure.    The discussion between the two parties over who would manage the Nexus 5000 reminded me of a scene from Ghostbusters… Read More »

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Cisco SANs: Where do you begin?

February 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm PST

I spent two weeks over at the Ask the Expert forums, and I came to the realization that often our customers are bombarded with facts, figures, speeds, feeds, features, buzzwords, comparisons and functionalities for which they’re not sure which ones they must have while others they can live without or are a convenience.  So I figured I’d toss out what I think are the top features for building an MDS Storage Area Network.   Some may be obvious and others you might shake your head or light up the torches.  They’re not in any particular order as your mileage varies from mine.  I’ll probably skip those that are obvious like “hot swap power supplies” and other oh so exciting abilities…

The first set I usually refer to as the holy trinity of features as they constitute the foundation of the connectivity… VSANs, Port-Channels and TE Ports.  They’ve been around literally forever on the platform and for good reason, they’ve been part of the hardware’s DNA since it’s inception.  Additionally, if you walk down the hall to the folks that manage your LAN, you’ll find out that they’re using pretty much the same concepts and features as you (VLANs, Port/Ether-Channels and Trunking or 802.1q).  So, if those guys are managing hundreds or thousands of switches and routers, there’s probably something worthwhile here.   It’s also a pretty good chance that they are using them for the very same reasons that you are:

  • VSANs: Isolation of fault domains.
  • Port-Channels: High Availability and load-balancing of InterSwitch Links (ISL)
  • TE_Ports: The ability to run multiple VSANs over the same ISL leveraging frames tagged with the VSAN ID and enforced in hardware.

Next on my list is NPV Mode aka N_Port Virtualization.  I grew up in the era of 16 port SAN switches and like rabbits, they multiplied, and so did their domains, and don’t get me started on the upgrades…  You had top of rack designs that involved dozens of small switches and this tsunami of small switches was slowed down by the emergence of the high density directors with hundreds of ports, first 128 then 256 now over 500.  Lots of small switches met their demise..

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Network Convergence as an Enabler – Giving Customers a Choice!

February 1, 2012 at 11:32 am PST

Cisco and Gartner Research recently partnered on a newsletter on how to transform your IT to reap the full benefits of network convergence.  It includes the Gartner report on “Recommendations for SAN Fabric Dashboards” by analysts Valdis Filks and Bob Passmore.  Also there are additional resources, blog & recent news links, and make sure to check out the TCO calculator!

Please click here to read the Gartner newsletter: http://www.gartner.com/technology/media-products/newsletters/cisco_us/issue1/index.html

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Registering a Sense of FCoE Perspective: Sniffling, Scaling and Storage

January 1, 2012 at 5:00 am PST

When The Register published a conversation with Brocade on December 8 about the success of their 16Gb Fibre Channel vs. Cisco’s FCoE solutions, you just know that there were going to be several elements that were going to raise an eyebrow or two. Maybe three.

Personally, I found the comparison between Brocade’s 16G solutions and Cisco’s FCoE solutions as something of a red herring. That is, there are different reasons why a customer would want to use one tool in the toolbox versus another, but they were saying “our new jackhammer is better than their entire toolbox.”

Nevertheless, some people felt that the article was an unbalanced promotion of Brocade’s new toys. I was invited by The Register author Chris Mellor to write a response article, which I did, and then waited for it to be printed. Read More »

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Addressing the FCoE “Ready-For-Prime-Time” Question

October 20, 2011 at 7:33 am PST

My buddy Steve Foskett wrote a blog recently that talks about FCoE and 16Gb Fibre Channel. I want to say, for the record, that I like Steven, a lot, and normally I think he has a good grasp of the realities of new SAN technologies that emerge.

At the very least he has usually shown himself to be fair and balanced, even if not totally unbiased. In the many, many articles he has written I have never seen him knowingly write something to be untrue in his examination of technologies such as FCoE… until now.

For that reason, I can’t help but feel very disappointed. Read More »

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