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Thoughts and Observations: Software Defined Storage

September 24, 2013 at 7:09 am PST

Last week I had the rare pleasure of being able to attend a storage conference (rare in the sense that I usually am one of the speakers, rather than one of the attendees). It was SNIA’s Storage Developer’s Conference, and like most events there were both things that were interesting and worthwhile, and things that left something to be desired.

ConfusionThe 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 »

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

September 23, 2013 at 10:10 am PST

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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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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