Businesses have come to recognize that the combination of big data technologies, new data sources and evolving analytic approaches present an opportunity to drive competitive advantage and accelerate innovation. But many are struggling with where to start to begin taking advantage of the business value that these new technologies promise.
Today’s launch of EMC’s Federation Business Data Lake (FBDL) changes that. With the FBDL, IT can quickly and easily clear the path for more timely and informed business decisions. The solution provides a fully engineered, enterprise-grade data lake tuned to the strategic priorities of a business that can help to quickly realize the value of big data analytics.
If you ask someone in a given field of endeavor "What is critical to success?" they'll most likely focus on one or two key elements. For instance, in Hollywood, someone might point to the director and the stars as critical. A football fan might mention the head coach and the quarterback. In the IT world, a discussion of enterprise applications will likely turn to critical systems such as ERP and CRM.Read more...
I know, I know. There's a world of difference between managing a storage network and running a fleet of 18-wheelers.
Or is there?
Bear with me, and imagine for a moment that you’re the boss of a freight shipping company.
Have you ever noticed how, just when you need to be somewhere fast, a traffic jam suddenly appears?
Making sure that there are an adequate number of buffer credits on a link, particularily an ISL link, is difficult when one is doing it by hand. The attachment provided here uses Microsoft Excel to provide a fairly robust, in-the-ballpark capability to determine the number of buffer credits necessary on a link of any speed, any average frame size, any distance and which also includes the user's capability to compress and/or encrypt the data in-flight.
This is an updated spreadsheet with just a minor change to how buffer credits get calculated.Read more...
Introduced today, the new EMC Connectrix VDX-6740B addresses the need for a better Ethernet storage switching solution for today’s New IP applications such as cloud, mobile, social and big data. Together with Brocade VCS Fabric technology, the VDX-6740B simplifies network design and operations for a more automated and efficient network, offering the flexibility needed to easily scale networks and support a cloud-ready infrastructure.Read more...
EMC is redefining what it means to deliver solutions for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Dictionary.com defines a solution as “the act of solving a problem, question, etc.” More often, it’s an overused marketing term in IT that implies a holistic approach to solving a fundamental business or IT problem. In reality, a solution is a thinly veiled term for a product. Just Google “VDI solutions” and you will find an initial page of “solutions” that point to VDI platforms, flash storage, and a laundry list of other products.Read more...
Fibre Channel remains a key component of cutting edge data centers and will continue to be a major driver in future designs, and this is certainly true at Rackspace. A major provider of open cloud systems and storage, Rackspace needs their data centers to be able to handle lots of data, at high levels of performance, with no downtime. And while new technologies have tried to push Fibre Channel out, at Rackspace it is a key technology for their storage team.Read more...
The Brocade 7840 is the most technologically advanced extension product ever to be developed. Brocade continues innovation in extension with the introduction of the Brocade 7840 Extension Switch. Cisco remains status quo with their 9250i, barely competitive against the Brocade 7800.Read more...
Today, we announced the next wave of game-changing Gen 5 Fibre Channel innovations that extend our solutions between data centers to address increasingly strict service level requirements and recovery objectives for disaster recovery. The new Brocade 7840 Extension Switch, combined with new Fabric Vision technology capabilities, delivers industry-leading performance, near-zero downtime, and unmatched simplicity for replication and backup between data centers.Read more...
Large scale disasters, like hurricanes, can shut down many businesses over a wide area, and recent events have taught some hard lessons about disaster recovery. But have enterprises put together the right processes and plans to maintain business continuity and recover from disasters, both natural and man-made?Read more...
In the data center, technologies fibre channel faces many misconceptions. It’s a legacy system not suited for modern technologies such as the cloud. Ethernet-based options have more flexibility and work better in the new data centers. As the world moves away from block storage, there’s less need for fibre channel. And so on. But these beliefs about fibre channel don’t stand up when one looks at how data centers are being built now and in the near future.
Talk to large businesses about their storage infrastructure and you’ll see Fibre Channel playing a key role. Aberdeen research shows that 52% of organizations use Fibre Channel and 34% use Fibre Channel in their top tier, highest performance required infrastructure. Not only that, Fibre Channel is the number one choice for these critical infrastructures.Read more...
Organizations identified as leaders in storage performance and reliability are 50% more likely than those identified as laggards (the bottom 30% in performance) to utilize fibre channel in the most critical tiers of their storage infrastructure. And large enterprises are nearly three times more likely than SMB companies to leverage fibre channel in the most critical tiers of their storage infrastructure.Read more...
With the World Cup in full swing, soccer fans around the world, as well as the media outlets and others who serve them, are generating, transmitting and consuming huge amounts of data, much of which is traversing to EMC storage via Brocade Fibre Channel SANs.
And just as the World Cup continues to unite soccer fans around the globe, Fibre Channel SANs are a key unifying element for the new storage systems launched by EMC today at their high-profile Redefine Possible event in London.
From a macro point-of-view, Brocade® Gen 5 Fibre Channel directors, switches, and management software provide a reliable, high-performance foundation for the new EMC® VMAX®3 and XtremIO™ storage solutions. With legions of fans all over the world, Brocade and EMC combine to form an unstoppable offensive (power, speed, and performance) and defensive (reliability, availability, and resilience) team that’s focused on winning.
Flash storage is another common element across all of the new EMC systems launched today. To support this EMC innovation, Brocade Gen 5 Fibre Channel switches are purpose built for flash-based storage arrays to maximize system performance, scalability and availability. No other networking technology comes close to ensuring that maximum bandwidth is always available between servers and storage.Read more...
HP customers coming to the Brocade Booth booth at HP discover knew what they wanted – more control, more insight, and better tools for managing their SAN. We gave them what they wanted with Fabric VisionRead more...
What a week this is turning out to be in Las Vegas. I am jazzed coming into the IBM Edge2014 event and our Platinum sponsorship.
I might be dating myself now but what is going on in the industry today is an inflection point much like that back in 1998, when shared storage for the masses was rolling out en masse in a technology called Fibre Channel. However, the landscape is different now and we need to get today’s networks ready for tomorrows workloads. IBM and Brocade are doing just that. Listening to the “Fast Data Forum Livestream Webcast,” I chose to key off of one of Tom Rosamilia’s (STG GM of Storage) summary statements at time marker 1:20:50 in the video, for the title of my Blog, “You can’t manage the DATA if you can’t manage the INFRASTRUCTURE”. There were many salient bites in the video but this statement strikes home to many. It is clear customers are having difficulty keeping up with the amounts and velocity of data from business, social and mobile sources that are being pumped into the cloud and analyzed.
What a week in Las Vegas! Jonathan Martin and his team at EMC delivered another spectacular event that always seems to feel like the center of the storage universe. It’s evolved over the years from a technical user event into a compass for understanding where the storage industry is going. The theme was “redefine” which was perfect given all of the hype and conversations around software defined-everything and IDC’s 3rd platform. It was clear from the first day keynote that EMC is all in on software-defined storage and flash even if it disrupts their traditional storage solutions.
The amount and depth of information in the general and technical sessions was awesome, if not overwhelming. Brocade had several sessions covering topics ranging from Cloud, IP, and Fibre Channel storage. Our VP of product management, Jack Rondoni, presented a technology overview of Brocade Fabric Vision that was very well attended. He provided a detailed session on the use cases and underlying technology for Brocade’s advanced monitoring, diagnostics, and management.
Jack’s session on “How SAN Monitoring Improves Application Availability & Performance”
It appears that we have finally moved on from cloud-washing everything IT to the era of software-defined. For believers of Gartner’s hype cycle, clearly we have transitioned from the Trough of Disillusionment towards the Plateau of Productivity because of new storage solutions that actually solve real business problems and provide benefits for enterprises.
Today, public cloud storage solutions tend to get more of the popular press coverage with content that focuses on cloud services providers (CSPs) like Amazon, Google, and Azure who deliver file-based storage, backup, and archiving. In my last blog I wrote about Rackspace and their Gen 5 Fibre Channel hybrid cloud solutions targeting outsourced primary storage. As a follow-up, it is now both important and timely to revisit the topic of private cloud storage.Read more...
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to networking and cloud? It probably isn’t Fibre Channel.Read more...
IBM flash storage and Brocade Gen 5 Fibre Channel unleash application and storage performance to serve more customers, process data faster, and improve customer experience. IBM has launched the FlashSystem 840, IBMs first storage solution to offer 16Gb Fibre Channel connectivity.Read more...
Weight and size matters in the data center. As we speak, there’s an obesity epidemic taking place in the data center that has the potential to challenge the health and well-being of data centers throughout the world.
Update 1/16/2014 Brocade Fabric Vision has been named as a finalist for 2013 Storage Management Product of the Year by Storage Magazine!
It is funny how there’s a misperception in the market that Fibre Channel networks are complex and hard to manage. Certainly admins need different skills than a standard LAN admin, but most customers spend a fraction of the time and resources managing a SAN vs. managing a LAN.
For Brocade Fibre Channel fabrics, the Fabric Operating System (FOS) has provided a variety of features and tools to help isolate, mitigate, and overcome performance and availability issues. Over time, Brocade engineering has added new features and enhanced functionality to make the life of a SAN administrator easier with features like Fabric Watch, Advanced Performance Monitor, Bottleneck Detection, and more.
The introduction of Brocade Gen 5 Fibre Channel technology in 2011 provided a new ASIC platform that enabled fundamental changes in fabric management. As an example, ClearLink Diagnostics was introduced as the industry’s only built-in cable and optics diagnostics capability that eliminated the need for specialized tools and drastically reduced troubleshooting time.
Today Brocade and HP announced the availability of two breakthrough monitoring and diagnostic capabilities for Brocade Fibre Channel fabrics—Monitoring and Alerting Policy Suite (MAPS) and Flow Vision. Part of Brocade Fabric Vision technology, MAPS and Flow Vision dramatically simplify SAN administration tasks and enable even higher availability and performance for Brocade SAN fabrics.
So what are MAPS and Flow Vision and how do they simplify life for SAN administrators?
MAPS is a threshold-based monitoring and alerting solution that enables proactive SAN management. MAPS leverages Brocade’s more than 15 years’ experience and expertise in storage networking to provide administrators pre-built rules/actions and pre-packaged monitoring policies so that admins can simply select the pre-defined policy that’s right for their environment and enable it.
In addition, administrators can use Brocade Network Advisor to further simplify the deployment of common policies across multiple switches, entire fabrics, or even multiple fabrics. With MAPS, deploying a fabric-wide monitoring and alerting solution is fast, easy, and requires no in-depth SAN expertise.
Flow Vision simplifies SAN administration and eliminates the need for intrusive external tools that compromise fabric reliability and add excessive costs. Rather than spending days trying to identify and isolate the root cause of a performance issue, Flow Vision can automatically discover data flows and non-disruptively monitor flows of interest. Comprehensive statistics about specific flows or frame types provide valuable insight into resolving performance and availability issues.
Flow Vision simplifies the process of identifying, monitoring, and analyzing specific application data flows in order to maximize performance, avoid congestion, and optimize resources This eliminates the need to disrupt the fabric to install expensive network taps or external analyzers. Flow Vision provides detailed visibility and insight into the storage network (including storage, host, and E_ports) and allows administrators to monitor specific flows in the fabric.
The introduction of these new Fabric Vision technology capabilities are part of what differentiates Brocade Gen 5 Fibre Channel technology from simple 16 Gbps switches. Our engineering resources are busy developing technology and capabilities that simplify the life of a SAN admin and add value in the data center through increased availability and optimized performance. To find out more about Brocade Fabric Vision technology, check out the Fabric Vision page.
Fibre Channel remains the de facto standard for high performance disk-based arrays as well as emerging flash-based arrays. It offers the best combination of performance, scalability, and reliability of the mainstream protocols. Now that Cisco MDS has finally joined the Gen 5 Fibre Channel party, customers have a choice.
Often overlooked in comparing Brocade and Cisco is the basic Fibre Channel switching architecture: Brocade uses cut-through switching and Cisco uses store-and-forward switching. The switching architecture has a profound impact on latency, which in turn impacts overall performance.
Cut-through switching technology is the lowest latency method for forwarding frames. It’s ideal for storage due to the latency sensitivity of SCSI and the impact on IOPS performance. Fibre Channel frames are forwarded to the destination before the entire frame has been received. Corrupted frames are identified and marked in the switch and discarded at the destination device. Discarding corrupted frames at the destination device minimizes the time to recover bad frames. As soon as the destination device receives the EOF marker as "invalid", recovery of the corrupted frame begins immediately...Read more...
How committed is Cisco to its MDS line of Fibre Channel directors and switches? In my previous blog, I summarized Cisco’soscillating storage networking strategy between iSCSI, Fibre Channel, InfiniBand, and FCoE. Cisco has been pushing their FCoE agenda through Nexus and UCS, but has finally joined the Gen 5 Fibre Channel party nearly two years after Brocade. So they keep coming back to Fibre Channel, but can Cisco be trusted to deliver credible Fibre Channel solutions?
We initially launched our Gen 5 Fibre Channel portfolio with directors (8- and 4-slot), a fixed-port switch (48-port switch), and adapters (single and dual port AnyIO Fabric Adapters). Since then, we have enhanced the portfolio with additional fixed-port switches (96- and 24-port switches) and embedded switches for blade servers (IBM, Dell, and more to come). More important, we launched a variety of new capabilities designed to improve availability, scalability, and manageability of the SAN fabric, including BrocadeFabric Vision technology with ClearLink diagnostic ports, MAPS, and Flow Vision, UltraScale inter-chassis links, and new health and performance dashboards.
In the two years since our launch, what has Cisco done to advance the technology beyond speeds and feeds? My observation and analysis of their launch is that the products announced (Cisco MDS 9710 Director and MDS 9250i Storage Services Switch) are largely a hardware speed bump with little innovation.
From a hardware perspective, it’s a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t provide much flexibility for customers: one chassis; one Fibre Channel line card; and one multi-service switch (SAN extension, migration, and encryption). The one glaring hole is the lack of a dedicated fixed-port Fibre Channel switch.
What about new innovative functionality? For the MDS 9710 directors, the messaging is focused on 16 Gbps (speed), bandwidth (feed), N+1 fabric module availability (more hardware), multiprotocol (they couldn’t resist going back to FCoE), and investment protection (a veiled feed statement since it’s based on bandwidth).
Looking at some of the claims in more detail:
|Cisco’s Claim||Brocade Fact|
|N+1 fabric redundancy delivers industry’s first 100% reliable SAN fabric||
It’s an irrelevant feature. Availability of the entire chassis depends on all the components, not just the fabric modules. Availability is proven over time, not on paper. Brocade DCX 8510 is proven in the data center with full redundancy and more than five nines availability.
|3X the performance of any director||
The Cisco MDS 9710 (ports+slot) and Brocade DCX 8510 (ports+UltraScale ICLs+slot) have identical usable bandwidth. The MDS 9710 has an additional 6.1 Tbps of slot bandwidth sitting idle, and not usable. The difference is Brocade allocates a portion of the internal switching bandwidth for UltraScale ICLs which provides more scalability and port density for an equal number of chassis.
|50% more line rate ports||
Brocade DCX 8510 provides an identical number of line rate ports (384 16 Gbps ports) with local switching. Local switching provides the lowest latency for directors.
|Protect SAN and end devices from corrupted frames via store and forward||
Brocade’s cut-through switching architecture drives lower switch latency without introducing any data integrity risks. It’s supported by Fibre Channel standards and proven in tens of millions ofdeployed ports worldwide.
Fork-lift free upgrades
The MDS 9710 chassis is not compatible with any previous generation blades, it’s a rip-out and replace. The original DCX chassis is upgradable to the DCX 8510.
With three straight quarters of taking share from Cisco, I like our position and direction. Customers want more from their infrastructure than speeds and feeds and Brocade has been listening and delivering innovative functionality that help them solve real business challenges. Adoption of our Gen 5 Fibre Channel platforms continues to rise every quarter based on innovation like Fabric Vision technology, ClearLink diagnostics, and UltraScale ICLs. Cisco is worthy competitor. Their share gain in servers is impressive - their goal to take over the entire data center is ambitious. That said, it is clear that their commitment to Fibre Channel is half hearted, half baked and disingenuous.
It’s not about speed. It’s about the innovative technology and unique capabilities that solve customer challenges. High density virtualization requires unprecedented reliability and performance due to the increased impact of down time and outages. Infrastructure complexity is driving requirements for consolidation and simplification of network resources. Adoption of SSD storage will outpace the I/O demands of legacy SAN infrastructure.Read more...
It was never supposed to be about the speed. The initial messaging for our platform launch in May 2011 was carefuRead more...
This is a great time to be part of the storage industry. For many years, innovation in enterprise storage had been moving at a seemingly glacial pace, marked by incremental increases in performance and capacity. All of this is changing as innovative storage technologies like SSD storage systems, 16 Gbps Fibre Channel arrays, and 10 GbE storage (iSCSI and NAS) are adopted by mainstream enterprise data centers. These new storage devices drive massive performance improvements that are ideal for high density virtualization, transactional applications, and new workloads like big data and analytics. As data center managers deploy new server and storage technology, however, they will likely uncover limitations and potential I/O bottlenecks with legacy Fibre Channel and traditional Ethernet networks that carry storage traffic.
Simply put, the network matters for storage. AJ Casamento, Global Solutions Architect at Brocade, recently recorded this video that explains why ...
Let’s take a closer look at these storage technologies and their impact on the network:
We have seen an increasing I/O performance gap between server processing side (e.g. more cores, faster memory, etc.) and storage over time. However, this gap is rapidly shrinking as solid-state drive (SSD) and flash-based storage solutions have entered the mainstream. SSD storage addresses both I/O and throughput bottlenecks enabling faster block and file-based storage performance for high density virtualized workloads and traditional mission critical applications. But that assumes that the network can keep pace. Demartek and Brocade recently published performance results showing database performance of over one million IOPS and over 7,200 MB/sec throughput using a combination of 16 Gbps Fibre Channel and SSD storage systems.
Another trend that is driving change is the transition to 16 Gbps Fibre Channel storage arrays. A big difference with the transition to 16 Gbps storage targets is the growing diversity of the storage industry. In addition to the traditional storage leaders like EMC, HDS, HP, and IBM, other storage vendors and SSD startups are entering the realm of high performance, low latency enterprise storage. For example, Dell and Brocade recently launched the industry’s first end-to-end 16 Gbps storage solution, the beginning of the final phase of the storage industry’s transition from 8 to 16 Gbps Fibre Channel technology. This is the first of many exciting 16 Gbps storage system announcements that I expect to see roll out from storage providers over the next several quarters.
The final trend is the growth in adoption of high performance 10GbE iSCSI and NAS based storage. Many Brocade customers are deploying Ethernet storage to address different application, cost, and performance metrics. The transition from 1GbE to 10GbE storage has major implications on the network. Moving to 10GbE storage implies that the storage is being used for applications and workloads that have higher performance and availability requirements. These are generally not that different from the requirements we would see on the Fibre Channel side. Leveraging our heritage in Fibre Channel SANs, Brocade VCS fabric technology brings many of the same reliability, availability, and efficiency values to Ethernet. Compared to traditional hierarchical networks, Brocade VCS Fabrics provide the best network infrastructure for Ethernet storage. Brook Reams, one of Brocade’s Global Solution Architects, wrote an excellent blog highlighting the value that Brocade VCS Fabrics provide to NAS storage environments.
Data center managers looking to deploy these new technologies to gain a competitive advantage also need to take a close look at their network infrastructure to determine whether it’s capable of delivering the reliability, performance, and operational simplicity these new technologies require. If not, you’ve simply moved the bottleneck and won’t gain the benefits you seek.
Brocade’s announcement today supporting Microsoft Windows Server 2012 and their new Virtual Fibre Channel for Hyper-V feature is important on several fronts. Not only does it offer customers more choice and flexibility, it opens the door to new virtualized workloads. Virtual Fibre Channel for Hyper-V allows virtual machine (VM) partitions to directly access Fibre Channel SAN storage. This new capability simplifies storage connectivity for virtualized workloads, and enables Fibre Channel (FC) SAN customers to leverage their existing SAN infrastructure for mission critical virtualized workloads.
Is this really that big a deal? Ask any storage administrator and you’ll find out that it is a BIG deal. With Virtual Fibre Channel, Hyper-V customers can now cluster Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server or other key application VMs across a highly available, highly reliable, and highly scalable FC SAN infrastructure for failover and workload balancing. It also enables live migration of virtual machines across Hyper-V hosts without disruption or re-configuration of the SAN, reducing downtime. In addition, multipath I/O functionality can now be used to ensure continuous connectivity to FC storage from within a Virtual machine. All of this adds up to increased application availability, flexibility and efficiency for dynamic applications and virtualized workloads.
To support the new Virtual Fibre Channel capability you will need an NPIV-enabled host adapter and NPIV-enabled SAN--both of which are available from Brocade and its OEM partners. Combining Brocade award-winning adapters together with Brocade SAN switch and management platforms enable an enterprise-class storage infrastructure for your Hyper-V environments for industry-leading availability, scalability and performance.
For more information:Technical Brief: Virtual Fibre Channel for Hyper-V
Read Brocade's press release: Brocade Delivers Comprehensive Fabric Networking Support for Windows Server 2012Read more...