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Mega Trends are Reshaping Storage Area Networks. But Are You Ready?

The data center landscape has changed dramatically in several dimensions. Server virtualization is almost a defacto in our customers’ data centers with a big increase in VM density. They are also moving towards world of many clouds.  And then there is the massive data growth. Some studies show that data is doubling in every 2 years while there is an increase in the adoption of solid-state drives (SSD). Several of our customers are also either consolidating their data centers or forming mega data centers. All of these mega trends certainly come with increasing challenges for the Storage Administrator as the storage network is becoming more critical as it is the strategic asset in the Data Centers. 

Take a look at this short video with Richard Darnielle (Director of Product Management for MDS Product lines) and me. Richard shares his insights on the mega trends that will shape the next-generation storage networks.

Guess what? Once again Cisco is here to help you on your journey to addressing these mega trends by raising the bar for storage networks. How you ask?

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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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Cisco Live London, 2012: Attend virtually Jan 31 – Feb 1

January 20, 2012 at 10:00 am PST

Join us on January 31 and February 1 in Cisco Virtual for Cisco Live London, 2012. We have a full agenda planned, including a live keynote with Padmasree Warrior and technical sessions on popular topics like UCS System Architecture, SAN Core Edge Design, BGP PIC, and Cisco Telepresence. You can also play games and win prizes.

Registrants receive two full days of live virtual programming in conjunction with Cisco Live London, access to over 1600 sessions, a virtual World of Solutions, and the chance to network with professionals and Cisco experts from more than 195 countries. Or, visit Cisco Live Virtual post-event to download PDFs and view videos from sessions presented at Cisco Live London.

The virtual event features:

  • Live Keynote addresses by CTO and SVP of Engineering, Padmasree Warrior.
  • A Guest keynote with Cisco’s Chief Futurist, Dave Evans and Richard Noble from Bloodhound.
  • Technical sessions on data center, storage area networks, IP Multicast and enterprise video, security and other hot topics
  • A Partner Resource Center with the chance to download valuable materials
  • Answers to your toughest technical questions from virtual Ask-the-Expert Center sessions
  • Networking with your friends, colleagues and new acquaintances with profile tools and social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs
  • A Memory Match game where you can compete to win €100 Cisco Marketplace coupons

Be sure to follow Cisco Live Europe on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/CiscoLiveEurope

Date: January 31 and February 1, 2012
Register for free: http://www.ciscolivevirtualeu.com
Agenda and Calendar Reminder: http://bit.ly/xP7zjK

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The SAN Boot, soon will be making another LUN.

As part of some current SharePoint 2010 on FlexPod work, I have been setting up some VMware ESX servers to boot from SAN. After a few quick searchs I found a few very good posts online.

BootFromSAN101 with Cisco UCS
UCS Boot Whitepaper

I thought the BootFromSAN 101  post had a good outline. So I decided to take it a few steps futher and create a video on NetApp storage provisioning, Cisco Nexus 5000 zoning and Cisco UCS boot from SAN for VMware vSphere ESXi 4.1.

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