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Next Generation Data Center Design With MDS 9710 – Part II

EMC World was wonderful. It was gratifying to meet industry professionals,  listen in on great presentations and watch the demos for key business enabling technologies that Cisco, EMC and others have brought to fruition.  Its fascinating to see the transition of DC from cost center to a strategic business driver . The same repeated all over again at Cisco Live. More than 25000 attendees, hundreds of demos and sessions. Lot of  interesting customer meetings and MDS continues to resonate. We are excited about the MDS hardware that was on the display on show floor and interesting Multiprotocol demo and a lot of interesting SAN sessions.

Outside these we recently did a webinar on how Cisco MDS 9710 is enabling High Performance DC design with customer case studies. You can listen to that here.

Three Pillars of ReliabilitySo let’s continue our discussion. There is no doubt when it comes to High Performance SAN switches there is no comparable to Cisco MDS 9710. Another component that is paramount to a good data center design is high availability. Massive virtualization, DC consolidation and ability to deploy more and more applications on powerful multi core CPUs has increased the risk profile within DC. These DC trends requires renewed focus on availability. MDS 9710 is leading the innovation there again. Hardware design and architecture has to guarantee high availability. At the same time, it’s not just about hardware but it’s a holistic approach with hardware, software, management and right architecture. Let me give you some just few examples of the first three pillars for high reliability and availability.


Reliability examples in MDS



MDS 9710 is the only director in the industry that provides Hardware Redundancy on all critical components of the switch, including fabric cards. Cisco Director Switches provide not only CRC checks but ability to drop corrupted frames. Without that ability network infrastructure exposes the end devices to the corrupted frames. Having ability to drop the CRC frames and quickly isolate the failing links outside as well as inside of the director provides Data Integrity and fault resiliency. VSAN allows fault isolation, Port Channel provides smaller failure domains, DCNM provides rich feature set for higher availability and redundancy. All of these are but a subset of examples which provides high resiliency and reliability.


Weakest link


We are proud of the 9500 family and strong foundation for reliability and availability that we stand on. We have taken that to a completely new level with 9710. For any design within Data center high availability  has to go hand in hand with consistent performance. One without the other doesn’t make sense. Right design and architecture with DC as is important as components that power the connectivity. As an example Cisco recommend customers to distribute the ISL ports of an Port Channel across multiple line cards and multiple ASICs. This spreads the failure domain such that any ASIC  or even line card failures will not impact the port channel connectivity between switches and no need to reinitiate all the hosts logins. You can see white paper on Next generation Cisco MDS here. At part of writing this white paper ESG tested the Fabric Card redundancy (Page 9) in addition to other features of the platform. Remember that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.


Geschäftsmann hat Wut, Frust und Ärger im Büro


The most important aspect for all of this is for customer is to be educated.

Ask the right questions. Have in depth discussions to achieve higher availability and consistent performance. Most importantly selecting the right equipment, right architecture and best practices means no surprises.

We will continue our discussion for the Flexibility aspect of MDS 9710.



-We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit (Aristotle)


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Next Generation Data Center Design With MDS 9710 – Part I


High Speed (16Gbps) and High Capacity (384 Line Rate ports per Chassis)

Data centers are undergoing a major transition to meet higher performance, scalability, and resiliency requirements with fewer resources, smaller footprint, and simplified designs. These rigorous requirements coupled with major data center trends, such as virtualization, data center consolidation  and data growth, are putting a tremendous amount of strain on the existing infrastructure and adding complexity. MDS 9710 is designed to surpass these requirements without a forklift upgrade for the decade ahead.

MDS 9700 provides unprecedented

  • Performance - 24 Tbps Switching capacity
  • Reliability -- Redundancy for every critical component in the chassis including Fabric Card
  • Flexibility -- Speed, Protocol, DC Architecture

In addition to these unique capabilities MDS 9710 provides the rich feature set and investment protection to customers.

In this series of blogs I plan to focus on design requirements of the next generation DC with MDS 9710.  We will review one aspect of the DC design requirements in each.  Let us look at performance today. A lot of customers how MDS 9710 delivers highest performance today. The performance that application delivers depend

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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Storage Distance by Protocol, Part III – Fibre Channel

September 10, 2013 at 2:57 pm PST

In the previous article we looked at some of the physical characteristics of building a SAN extension. In other words, we looked at the different ways there are to “build the pipe.” We didn’t, however, get the chance to talk about the speed or capacity of the pipes, nor did we talk about the various methods to fill the pipe with SAN data.

In this article, we’re going to look at the first of four specific methods of how we can extend SANs across distances using those pipes: “Native” Fibre Channel (FC). Understanding how FC works becomes critical for understanding how distance solutions are resolved using the technology, and that in turn leads us to understand how something like Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) differs.

Afterwards, we’ll take a brief look at how the pieces fit together and are part of the process for building a strong solution. Read More »

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Storage Distance by Protocol, Part II – Physical Layer

September 9, 2013 at 4:56 pm PST

In the last article, we looked at the big picture of what is involved in creating a SAN distance extension. In this article, we’re going to take a slightly closer look at the physical requirements and with luck we’ll be able to clear up some general confusion and misconceptions along the way.

Puzzle Pieces 2There is a lot of information about these different elements available via a quick search on your favorite search engine. What I find, though, is that there is usually very little context that accompanies the descriptions or, at best, the authors assume that you may have more of an understanding about some of these technologies than you do. In this case, if I’m going to err it will likely be on the side of making it too accessible and in Plain English, which is something I can live with.

As usual, this is a mid-level view. There are many deep dives that will go into each subject in fine-toothed detail available on the web, but we’re going to stay focused on what you need to know for extending SANs across distances.

Again, this is a rather long post, but hopefully it will be useful as a reference point for you. Read More »

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