Welcome back to the latest episode of Engineers Unplugged, featuring the inimitable dynamic duo of storage, Vaughn Stewart (@vStewed) and Chad Sakac (@sakacc). They discuss three key trends in storage today: flash, distributed DAS, and software control plane. Storage is the new black, let’s learn why:
And of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a unicorn, a flash unicorn.
Flash Unicorn! Thanks to Vaughn Stewart and Chad Sakac for the artwork.
Now when I’m talking about safekeeping a mobile device, I’m not saying don’t use your Kindle by the pool or let your toddler play on the iPad while eating ice cream. These are dangerous things to be doing with a gadget, but today I want to focus more on the data within that device, rather than the device itself.
No matter what you do, your device may be stolen. It only takes a moment of inattention for someone to swipe your phone or tablet. Before that unfortunate event occurs, there are several things that you can do to mitigate the damage that occurs from the loss of a mobile device. Read More »
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 withoutsignificantly 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 UCSFI (Fabric Interconnect)without significantly affecting the SAN admin’s day-to-day operations.
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.
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].
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 almost50% 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)
2) Consistent Management Model: FCoE 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 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.
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.
Before 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.
The benefits to using Cisco Unified Fabric infrastructure were quite significant Read More »
The lasting impression that I walked away with, however, was something that went beyond any one particular conversation, presentation, or technology. Indeed, the thoughts that have been rattling around in my brain for the past week made me realize that, if we (those of us in the industry) aren’t careful, the future looks extremely convoluted and confusing. At worst we may actually wind up mismatching solutions to problems, taking giant steps backwards, locking us into a perpetual game of ‘catch-up’ as we struggle to accomplish what we can do today using traditional storage methodology and equipment Read More »