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Mainframe Solutions

Day 1 - A Mainframe Guy at EMC World 2015

by Dave Lytle ‎05-05-2015 10:08 AM - edited ‎05-05-2015 10:15 AM (4,830 Views)

Here I am once again in sunny (think hot) Las Vegas attending the latest EMC World 2015 event. Preliminary numbers suggest about 15,000 attendees in total are in town to participate in this 4 day event. An inaugural experiment at this EMC World is a full week dedicated mainframe track. Attendees at past EMC Worlds had given feedback that they wanted lots more attention focused on mainframe so starting this year, EMC is attempting to satisfy that desire.


I attended the opening mainframe session where the weeks’ worth of presentations and demos were discussed. There were probably about 50 people in attendance to get an overview of what to expect in the training and to get a glimpse of all of the presenters. That session was very well done and they covered a lot of material in the 60 minutes that they had. They were giving out ribbons, to be attached to the registrant’s badge, showing an interest in mainframe so others at this event could easily find them. They also handed out memory sticks with documents and information that will be useful to all of the mainframe and EMC World attendees. 

During the session it was mentioned that of all the people who registered for this event, about 600 checked an interest in the mainframe. One hopes that we will see them provide standing room only attendance at all of these mainframe-focused sessions, but time will tell.

zLounge at EMC WorldA very nice innovation here is the inclusion of a zLounge for all mainframe participants to use. It contains several hardware units including an EMC Disk Library, EMC Connectrix, IBM z13 (with transparent panels and blue lights) and EMC Symmetric. There are two presentation areas for smaller audiences and several work areas (one of which I am using right this moment). It also contains a very innovative and creative VMAX Refrigerator! The outside panels are VMAX but the inside is a refrigerator with door storage, shelf storage and drawer storage. Later on in the week it will be stocked with water and cola, free for consumption by anyone visiting the zLounge. It will also be a prize in a giveaway at the end of the week. A lucky winner will be able to choose taking home the VMAX refrigerator for his/her home cave or an iPad. The federal government has already pronounced that any winner of the refrigerator will have to pay taxes on it so some serious thought will have to go into accepting a refrigerator or an iPad as their prize.

I and Steve Guendert (Brocade’s Director of Product Management for z System Technologies and Solutions, had a very nice chat with a representative of the IBM Executive Briefing Center (EBC in Poughkeepsie, NY) today in the zLounge – see it is for everyone and anyone mainframe-centric to utilize! We discussed how Brocade could gain some greater participation in the IBM Executive Briefing Center for Brocade customers who are getting a z System update at IBMs EBC. There are some logistics to work out but it appears that greater Brocade participation at IBM’s EBC is possible and we’ll be working on the details. Brocade customers who are attending an IBM EBC briefing can request a Brocade representative to discuss FICON and FCP (for Linux on z System) switching. We can also discuss Protocol Intermix Mode environments where open systems as well and the mainframe will be utilizing the same I/O infrastructure. This will allow IBM customers to do a one-stop briefing to gain all the pertinent information they need to make their refresh decisions for switched-z System. I urge that Brocade customers react to this IBM-Brocade collaboration by requesting a Brocade speaker when they do attend an IBM EBC. 

Of course, I would like for this same collaboration to exist between EMC and Brocade for EMC EBCs but I do not know of any discussions between us to put that in place. If customers would like to have a Brocade representative speak during their EMC EBC event then they should make sure that their EMC sales representative is aware of that desire in advance so that arrangements can be made to satisfy that request.

Brocade Booth before the Expo startedThe Solutions Expo (the exhibit floor) opened to the attendees at 6pm. This is a HUGE space and is home to scores of booths from vendors showcasing their solutions and products. Brocade is a Diamond sponsor, the highest level. When the attendees walk into the Expo the very first thing they see is the gigantic Brocade booth. Not only it is a sight to behold, within its boundaries are some of the world’s foremost experts in Fibre Channel and IP networking. Our booth highlights Brocade’s innovation leadership and our solution breakthroughs that unleash the performance of Flash, software-defined networks, Gen 5 FICON and SAN, and dedicated IP storage networks. As you know, Brocade is a strategic partner with EMC and together we provide best-in-class solutions to our common customer base.


There are probably a dozen or more people working the Brocade booth, providing a one-on-one experience to the attendees interested in anything Brocade. As part of this Brocade experience, there are three main theater presentations per hour, approximately 7 minutes long, that covers Brocade’s New IP messaging as well as our Brocade and EMC solutions. So whether as part of a group watching the theater show or as a one-on-one participant, anyone who visits with Brocade at EMC World will come away from that experience totally pleased with the time they spent with us.


Attendees often do not understand the wonderful opportunity that they have to meet and discuss solutions with Brocade personnel who are usually very difficult to reach outside of an expo setting like this. The foremost sales, systems engineers, solution center specialists, engineers and management team from Brocade are on hand to visit with you, show you our solutions and answer all your questions. There are Brocadians from across the globe helping the attendees fully understand strategies, tactics and solutions for their ever changing environments. If you are attending EMC World, I urge you not to miss out on this unique opportunity.


7840 and 8510-4 at EMC World 2015I was one of the staff at the booth when it opened on Day 1. My expertise is Fibre Channel and we have a 7840 Gen 5 extension switch (MP-7840B) and a DCX 8510-4 (ED-DCX8510-4B) on display. The 7840 was sitting on top of the DCX 8510 so that both could be discussed at the same time. So it was around these devices that I positioned myself. I had a number of attendees interested in these devices and asking questions. One of the most common questions was why an enterprise should consider upgrading from 8 Gbps to 16 Gbps (Gen 5) infrastructure. I told them that in my opinion it was Flash storage that would be the biggest factor driving customers to adopt a faster infrastructure in order to obtain the value that Flash can provide. Brocade Gen 5 can easily support up to 420 million frames per second per Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) and there are two ASICs on each connectivity blade in a Brocade Director chassis. The Brocade 8510 Directors easily handle the millions of I/Os per second that can be generated by Flash and can do so with very minimal latency time (averaging about 2.1 microseconds in a local environment). Then I was questionedon other enhancements to our Gen 5 devices that would be of benefit to them. So I discussed all of the following at one time or another during the evening:


Software advancements over 8 Gbps platforms:
• Fabric OS (FOS) that supports significantly more functionality because of our improved ASICs.
• Brocade Network Advisor (Connectrix Manager) was constantly being upgraded and we have an in-booth demonstration of Connectrix Manager showcasing current and even next generation functionality.
• Full Brocade Network Advisor Fabric Vision Capability including Monitoring and Alerting Policy Suite (MAPS) and Flow Vision which are also a part of the Connectrix Manager demo and one-on-one discussion available in our booth.
• Flow Vision Flow Learning, a Fabric Vision capability, so that it is much easier to troubleshoot fabric issues.
• And near future capabilities such as Slow Drain Device quarantine which will help mitigate some of the performance issues that slow drain devices cause in a fabric.


Brocade DCX 8510-4 (ED-DCX8510-4B)Hardware advancements over 8 Gbps platforms:
• 8,192 Buffer-to-Buffer (BBC) Credits per ASIC on each connectivity blade
• 5,120 more BBCs per ASIC with credit linking capabilities (which will be made available in a future firmware release)
• Thirty two, 100 meter capable Inter-Chassis Links (ICLs) to provide incredible bandwidth for switch-to-switch links without using customer purchased ports for ISL links
• In-flight encryption for secure transmission of data across ISL links with no performance penalty
• In-flight compression for efficient use of ISL bandwidth
• Forward Error Correction on E and F ports to provide improved performance on marginal links


Brocade 7840 (MP-7840B)Attendees were also interested in the Brocade 7840 (MP-7840B). One of these switches was, as I mentioned earlier, on display so it was easy to point out the port features on that device and then discuss the benefits of that new extension technology:
• Twenty four FC/FICON 16 Gbps ports for attaching into a FICON or SAN fabric.
• Two 40 GbE ports for WAN upload.
• Sixteen Ethernet ports that can be configured to be either 1 GbE or 10 GbE.
• The FC/FICON Engine, servicing the FC ingress ports, can process 80 Gbps of data.
• The FCIP WAN Engine, servicing the IP egress ports, can process 40 Gbps of data.
• The IPEX LAN Engine, servicing the IP ingress ports, can process 40 Gbps of data.
• The IPEX WAN Engine, servicing the IP egress ports, can process 40 Gbps of data.
• For non-IPEX workload, the FCIP function was designed for non-disruptive firmware updates which is a vast improvement over our earlier 7800 (MP-7800B) extension switch.


Just to give some perspective about the capabilities of the new Brocade 7840 (MP-7840B), it was designed to maintain full utilization of two 10 Gbps links for very long distance, for example from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.


IPEX (IP Extension) might be a new concept for some of you. Mark Detrick (a Brocade Solutioneer) has an excellent explanation of IPEX that can be found here:


Well that is it for today. I am looking forward to my 2nd day at EMC World 2015. I hope you are here enjoying this event with me.