Cisco MDS for Small to Cloud-Scale Data Centers
Superior Platforms, Scale, and Operational Simplicity
Data Center trends like Virtualization, Solid State Drives, DC consolidation and Data Explosion are putting a tremendous amount of strain on the infrastructure. These challenges need targeted and multifaceted approach. It has to be holistic solution to the problems rather than point products for each unique problem. Data Centers require improvements in performance, flexibility, scalability, and reliability and ease of management. To address that Cisco revamped the MDS product line, the journey we started last year when we introduced 9710 and 9250i.
9710 – Director Class Switch with 3x the performance of any director, 384 ports of line rate 16G FC, highest reliability and flexibility.
9250i – Services Appliance supporting 10G FCIP, 16G FC and 10G FCoE in addition to IO Acceleration, Data Mobility Migration in compact 2 RU form factor.
We had a great success with the product line with steepest ramp and amazing customer feedback. Building on the success we have added new members to the product family and extended the innovation to allow for simpler management and scalable deployments.
a) Three New Products
- MDS 9148S – Industries’ most versatile affordable 1RU switch with High-Performance, Easy of Deployment, Enterprise-class features
- MDS 9706 – Unprecedented investment protection with high performance, reliability and multi-protocol flexibility
- High Density line rate 10G FCoE Card – For customers to adopt high density FCoE in incremental non-disruptive fashion on the existing FC footprint without forklift upgrades.
b) New Scalable Deployment Options
- Much Higher Scalability for SAN Infrastructures.
- Dynamic FCoE over Fabric Path
- Data migration enhancements for speed, scale and resiliency
c) New Management Features
- Hardware based FC Congestion Detection and Recovery
- Integration with Industry leading Platforms
- End to End Visibility
- Switch Health Score
With the addition of new members Cisco not only has best of the breed products but also broadest product portfolio. This allows customers to design the SAN precisely to their needs from small departmental SANs to the largest enterprises, from traditional LAN, SAN networks to fully converged fabric and everything in between.
Lets look at the capabilities of each product in little more detail
Cisco MDS 9148S: High-Performance, Easy to Deploy, Enterprise-class Fabric Switch
Versatile: 9148S pay as you grow model allows customers to start from small base and grow . It allows customers to grow from 12 Ports to 24, 36 and finally 48 without any rip and replace. It allows customers to go from 2/4/8G to 16G FC speeds. It is not only the most affordable switch shipping today across all the possible configurations but with 2x the range of ports it allows unparalleled scalability for future growth.
Ease of use: Power On Auto provisioning which allows 9148 and 9148S to automate switch setup. From getting DHCP, to downloading and applying the software to the final configuration is done automatically. Quick configuration wizard allows the box to be configured in an easy way. It shares the same NxOS as rest of the MDS and Nexus products. Power on Auto Provisioning (POAP) is important for large scale data centers where 9148S will be used as Top of the Rack (ToR) switch and distributed throughout the data center. This saves customer to go from box to box with the serial cable and program them individually. It allows for rapid, error free and consistent provisioning.
Enterprise Class switch: It offers the rich Enterprise features like non-disruptive software upgrade,32 Virtual SANs (VSANs), Inter-VSAN Routing (IVR), QOS, PortChannels, N-Port ID Virtualization (NPIV), N-Port Virtualization (NPV), Comprehensive Security in addition to redundant power supplies and fans. Its first of the kind switch in the industry to allow hardware based slow drain detection and recovery. It has back to front airflow.
Customer Use Case: Customer will use the 9148S to design small SAN environments like departmental SANs. Larger Enterprises will use 9148S as ToR Switch for ease of cabling and ease of Management. In addition to that 9148S will be used for BC/DR or remote locations. Pay as you go model is very attractive to customers as it allows them to grow the port count from 12 to 48 without any price penalty as their network demands grow.
Cisco MDS 9706: Extending MDS 9710 Director Qualities to a Smaller Form Factor
It is the highest performance director in the industry. It provides 3X the bandwidth compared to any compact director in the industry. Not only it provide 192 ports line rate performance at 16G but it is designed to provide line rate performance at 32G FC and 40G FCoE when those line cards are introduced without the forklift upgrades using the same type of fabric cards. With 6 fabric cards it provides 1.5Tbps of bandwidth per slot.
In addition to that this is industries first class of directors to offer Redundancy on all critical components including fabric cards. Smaller failure domain, Forward error correction, multi-point CRC checks, predictable and consistent performance for both latency and throughput.
Small to medium enterprises will use 9706 as Middle of the row and end of row switch in addition line rate 16G performance allows it to be used for connectivity to targets in addition to host connectivity. It will be used for both edge core and edge-core-edge designs.
In addition to the pod like deployments where 9RU form factor and 192 ports of line rate at 16G is very attractive.
Some of the specs of the switch are enumerated below
- 1.5 Tbps per slot switching capability
192 ports of 16G FC line rate today with 100% head room to grow to 32G FC) without forklift upgrade
- Industries Highest Reliability
N+1 Fabric redundancy, smaller failure domains, Forward Error Correction, CRC error checks at multiple points, In service software upgrades, Crossbar design with central arbitration and Virtual Output Queuing ensure customers not only get highest availability but also predictable and consistent throughput independent of the traffic profile.
- Unmatched Flexibility
With ability to support both FC and FCoE line cards. With capability to support 2/4/8/10/16G FC and 10G FCoE today and performance to support 32G FC and 40G FCoE on the same footprint.
Industry’s Highest-Density FCoE Module on a FC Director
With 48 ports this has the highest port density and greatest flexibility in the industry. Without any restrictions Cisco customers can now orchestrate FC, FCoE and mixed solutions. FCoE line card afford customers ability to design FC solutions and incrementally deploy FCoE without forklift upgrades and meeting the same features, reliability and availability as afforded by FC.
In addition to hardware we added extensive capabilities to enable small size to cloud scale deployments.
To support large scale out and scale up deployment models we have increased the scalability limits for the SAN infrastructure. The industry leading scalability numbers allow Cisco customer’s unprecedented future proofing and scalability to Scale out or Scale-up. Finally the Data Mobility Migration has 2x the speed and 8x the scale and higher resiliency.
Simplifying SAN Management
In addition to enhanced capabilities in Cisco tools MDS family is integrated with industry standard tools to provide faster configurations like automated zoning. Some of the examples of the tools are UCS Director, EMC ViPR, Microsoft System Center VMM and IBM PpowerVC.
To address complexity in the data-centers Cisco is focused on SAN Management simplification. First and foremost that is top of mind for customers is slow drain. If there are slow draining devices in the network it chokes the entire fabric. These conditions are transient, extremely difficult to isolate, debug and fix. To detect and recover for these conditions Cisco introduced Slow Drain Detection and Recovery in software in previous generation of devices. Now with the new products we have provided the support for these devices to run the slow drain detection and recovery in the hardware rather than waiting for software to come around polling individual ports every 100 ms which is a life time in the data center. As the table below shows with hardware based slow drain the detection speed has increased 100 times and recovery is of the order of nano seconds rather than 100ms.
|Platforms||Detection Granularity||Recovery Action Latency – Start and Stop|
|Software-based||MDS 9500MDS 9148||100ms||100ms|
|Hardware-based NEW!||MDS 9700, MDS 9250i, MDS 9148S||1ms||Immediate (ns)|
For more info read this whitepaper
In addition to that Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) provides end to end visibility from hosts (virtual or Physical) through switches (MDS or Nexus) into the storage arrays independent of the protocol. DCNM is single pane of glass visibility into the Data Center for both SAN and LAN.
Host Path Redundancy Analysis checks the network every 24 hours or customer designated interval if there is end to end dual paths from Host to the target. It checks against port down situations, VSAN mismatches, VSAN Segmentation, LUN mismatches as well as makes sure both the ports are not on the same line cards. Similar activity that used to take months is now completed on the fly every 24 hours reducing risk and time to repair. Further more administrators are not surprised by an outage as they have complete visibility for the dual paths. Furthermore having both the paths up allows to mitigate any silent failures as well as avoid outages if one of the SAN fails.
Switch health score is another unique capability of DCNM to track switch health over time. It allows customer to quickly determine level of risk, isolate and fix the alerts resulting in low health score and track the health of the SAN over time.
As I started the discussion today Data Centers need a holistic approach to solving the challenges of the data center. Customers not only need higher performance, investment protection, lower opex and capex, reliability but also ease of management and tightly integrated end to end solution. The solutions and capabilities I described allows us to solve the challenges faced by data centers not only today for the years to come. We introduced MDS products in 2002 and since then we have introduced industries first innovation, just few examples out of that are enumerated below. We will continue to innovate in this space for the next decade.
Sr. Product Manager, DCBU
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