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ShowNotes: Unified Fabric

December 2, 2009 - 1 Comment

Welcome to the shownotes for Episode 54!  Our entire focus for this show is to explore the concepts and the realities of a ‘Unified Fabric’.  If you have not registered for the show yet or would like to see the video on demand, which will be available starting 12/4/09, you can go here.

Here is the official problem statement:

Data centers are rapidly reaching a tipping point. The trend to server virtualization, combined with massive data growth, bandwidth demands, and other factors, is creating enormous management, power, cooling, and cost inefficiencies that cannot be sustained, especially in the current economic environment.

Can unified fabric provide a realistic solution? Is it ready for prime time? Join us as we expose the truth about this new data transport technology and show you the tangible benefits you can expect from its implementation. Discover how you can migrate to unified fabric incrementally, preserving the value of your existing data center investments.

If you missed the show trailer:

On to the specific myths we felt needed to be addressed and the links to more information!

Tangled WebA few of the critical questions:

  • Do you really have to choose between Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and Fibre Channel?
  • Will unified fabric disrupt your storage administration?
  • What kind of ROI can you really expect?
  • How do you control and manage this new technology?
  • Are Cisco Nexus switches prestandard and proprietary or standardized and open?

Extra Reading: (for you over-achievers…)

Three Ways you can keep up with our Data Center Revolution:

Random News Bits:


On to the show!


Segment 1: What a Tangled Web We Weave

Steve Phillips and Robb Boyd lay out the incremental steps required to move to a unified fabric in the data center and take a closer look at the technologies involved.


Segment 2: Unified Fabric in Action

Steve Phillips Vsphere

TWTV54 Client Screen Shot


Segment 3: 

Understanding DCBX – Data Center Branch Exchange

Silvano Gai, author of I/O Consolidation in the Data Center, provides his insights into the present and future of data center architecture.

TWTV54 Silvano Gai

TWTV54 Silvano Gai Whiteboard


Segment 4: Managing Unified Fabric and Your Storage

Steve Phillips illustrates how unified fabric simplifies data center architecture without disrupting storage network administration and operation.

TWTV54 Cisco Fabric Manager



Segment 5: NetApp

NetApp and Cisco Team up in the Data Center

Jason Blosil joins TechWiseTV for a close look at how NetApp is helping customers move as slow or fast at they need with the evolution to Unified Fabric. Jason not only did a very nice job presenting his information on the show, I really appreciate the written explanation he provides below.


NetApp Slide: Traditional Data Center

Virtualization is one of the primary reasons to move to a 10GbE infrastructure.  Whether upgrading to blade servers or racks, the large memory footprint and compute power of today’s servers, such as the Cisco UCS, enable hosting of large numbers of virtual servers.  This increased application density requires greater bandwidth in the network.  What enables this convergence is enhanced Ethernet with data center bridging and FCoE.  To maintain the lossless characteristic for the FC traffic, DCB allows for the prioritization of FCoE over other types of data and storage traffic.  FCoE is not a tunneling protocol and FCoE supported switches, such as the Nexus 5000 family, support traditional FC as well, allowing you to connect natively to the existing FC core or storage.


NetApp Cisco TechWiseTV 54 - Unified Fabric

The great thing about data center bridging and support for FCoE is that you don’t have to rip and replace your whole data center. Moving to a converged or unified Ethernet infrastructure can be done a little at a time and will likely begin at the edge where the greatest bang for the buck will be realized.  Port count at the servers and edge switches can be reduced in half, driving significant capital and operational cost reductions, as well as improvements in management.

NetApp offers unified storage, supporting all of the major storage network protocols, including NFS, CIFS, iSCSI, FC.  All of these protocols are available in the same storage platform with a single set of management tools, feature set, and operating system across the NetApp family of storage solutions.  You can reduce your storage footprint dramatically by moving to NetApp storage.  And with NetApp, you get a portfolio of features and tools such as thin provisioning, deduplication for primary and secondary storage, high speed snapshots, volume cloning, high performance RAID-6, and high performance caching, which can dramatically reduce your storage capacity requirements.

And these features aren’t limited to NetApp storage.  If you aren’t ready to retire your existing FC storage, NetApp V-Series can offer the same benefits to your 3rd party storage from EMC, IBM, HP, HDS, and others.  We are so confident in our ability to reduce your storage requirements, we offer a guarantee program for virtual server environments that we can reduce your storage capacity by 50% with NetApp storage and 35% with NetApp V-Series using your 3rd party storage.


NetApp Cisco TechWiseTV 54 Unified Fabric

NetApp is the only vendor offering FCoE storage today.  And because NetApp is so versatile, when you are ready to migrate to an all 10Gb enhanced Ethernet and FCoE, you can upgrade your NetApp systems easily with the addition of our unified target adapter. 

NetApp Cisco TechWiseTV 54 Unified Fabric

NetApp storage systems provide the same data management features regardless of the network protocol used to access the data.  If  you have some applications that work better with NFS or CIFS, and others using iSCSI, FC, or FCoE, that’s fine.  All of the space management features and management tools are common and deliver the same value, which simplifies overall storage management and improves operational efficiency.


Segment 6: Unified Fabric – One Step at a Time

Steve Phillips, Robb Boyd, and Jimmy Ray Purser sum up the benefits of unified fabric and discuss how real-world customers are already reaping its benefits.

Final Points?

  • It’s real. Customers are realizing the benefits of Unified Fabric NOW
  • Consolidation of LAN and SAN drives greater cost and operational efficiency
  • Incremental low-risk adoption can deliver tangible benefits now

Cisco TechWiseTV 54 Unified Fabric

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  1. TechwiseTV is blazing hot.Outstanding presentations. Great guest speakers.