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Mainframe Solutions

Superior Management of Your Fibre Channel I/O Fabrics in Under 5 Minutes

by Dave Lytle on ‎06-26-2014 03:53 PM (5,741 Views)

Dramatically Simplify Open Systems and Mainframe Storage Networking Management:


Organizations can configure their entire fabric (or multiple fabrics) at one time using common rules and policies, or customize those policies for specific ports or switch elements—all through a single dialog as part of the Monitoring and Alerting Suite (MAPS). Then Flow Vision is a comprehensive capability within Fabric Vision that enables administrators to identify, monitor, and analyze specific application I/O data flows in order to maximize performance, avoid congestion, and optimize resources.


CLI and BNA Dashboards1.jpgEasy to customize integrated Dashboards are used to display overall switch health along with details on out-of-policy conditions to quickly pinpoint potential issues and easily identify trends and other behaviors occurring on a switch or fabric.


Dashboards help users visualize problems to more quickly find solutions:

  • Dashboards compliment Fabric Vision and MAPS with visual analysis capabilities
  • CLI-based dashboards are available for your deeply technical staff
  • An intuitive Graphical User Interface (GUI) provides a more user friendly, point-and-click dashboard capability
  • Addresses the two huge problems of over-alerting and the amount of time it takes to create an initial rule set.
  • Users can custom tailor Dashboards to visualize the resources most vial to their enterprise


Improved availability and performance:


MAPS will alert you to potential failure events, such as weakening SFPs, in time for administrators to replace them before they affect fabric and application availability. With Flow Vision flow monitors, performance analysis can be based on a specific HBA-to-LUN or CHPID-to-link address path. All data flow monitors to a given port in a fabric can be created automatically so performance at a specific port can be analyzed by data path. Your storage network administrators can then take proactive actions to ensure that performance is always optimal in your SAN.


Here are a few of the key values associated with Fabric Vision’s Increased Availability:

  • Detect errors more easily and quickly and recover from many errors much faster.
  • Dashboards help mitigate risk and detect errors quickly so they can be immediately contained.
  • Achieve up to a 50% reduction in common network problems as determined from a random sampling of our own support calls. This is what we estimate that MAPS, Flow Vision and/or Clearlink Diagnostic D_Port would have solved before they ever became a problem had they been in use.


Reduces operational costs:


There are many tools that SAN administrator’s use to manage I/O fabrics. Each of these tools takes money, experience and expertise to use and that expertise needs to be refreshed often costing more time and money. But MAPS has that expertise built-in and made extremely easy to deploy. MAPS will constantly evolve all of its current capabilities, as well as new capabilities, to be stronger and more beneficial over time and as your data center changes.


Here are a few of the key values associated with using Fabric Vision to Reduce Cost:

  • Helps to reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by providing proactive performance analysis and troubleshooting capabilities
  • There can be very significant savings of cost if Fabric Vision technologies can replace expensive 3rd part tools that are less effective and potentially disruptive to the fabric.
  • A study that Brocade conducted indicates that almost 50% of on-going maintenance costs could be eliminated when using Fabric Vision technologies. This estimate is derived from a 5 year cost model of deploying 2,000 new ports and cables and total ownership where they might typically have 10% of those ports/cables with issues over 5 years where Clearlink Diagnostic D_Port, and stabilizing the infrastructure before production, would have saved users quite a bit of cost in troubleshooting and fix. For example, cable and optics problems can cause intermittent problems and can be very difficult to troubleshoot and fix.


Deploy all of this management capability in a matter of moments:


With older tools like Brocade’s Fabric Watch, there were 170+ health and performance checks that could be monitored on a switch-by-switch basis. Unfortunately, Fabric Watch required deep technical knowledge, lots of time and intense patience in order to meaningfully deploy this tool. For example, only one of the Fabric Watch functions was automated with BNA – port fencing. So most mainframe shops only implemented that one Fabric Watch function out of the 170+ that were available to them.


Fabric Vision Overview1.pngWith the MAPS capability of Fabric Vision, users can quickly start monitoring their fibre channel fabrics using one of the predefined policies which can be configured and then distributed to each and every switch in your enterprise very quickly – basically a matter of a GUI click or two. Administrators can monitor each of your switches for a while using the default policy (the Aggressive Policy for mainframe users) and then fine-tune that policy as necessary to fit your environment. When your administrators are satisfied with the configuration settings, they can activate the actions they want to happen when thresholds are crossed. For even more added value, data flows defined in Flow Vision can be imported into MAPS which supports the use of thresholds on statistics monitored by the Flow Vision monitoring feature.


SAN/FICON administrators can make use pre-defined MAPS policies which easily deploy onto your fabrics in 5 minutes or less. Customization of MAPS policies and/or importing Flow Vision data flows take just a bit longer but nowhere near the amount of time once spent on our older Fabric Watch management tool.


Here are a few of the key values associated with using Fabric Vision to Simplify Monitoring:

  • Management tool complexity has related barriers like a need of in-depth knowledge of older tools that BNA and Fabric Vision help to simplify.
  • Using Brocade’s 15 years of experience and best practices we have created pre-defined, automated policies, rules and actions that can be deployed in a single click.
  • Fabric Vision provides additional instrumentation and granularity regardless of how large fabrics become – even if they are a mix of SAN, FICON and/or IP.
  • CLI and/or Graphical User Interface (GUI) Dashboards allow users to monitor and visualize the health and performance of their fabrics which helps them make decisions correctly and quickly.

Flow Vision:


Fabric Vision BNA Dashboard8C.pngFlow Vision is a Fibre-Channel storage network diagnostic tool supported on all platforms supported by Brocade’s Fabric OS 7.2 and later. It provides users with a comprehensive vision of fabric traffic flows and with the ability to non-disruptively create and capture copies of traffic flows for later analysis. It enables administrators to identify, monitor, and analyze specific application data flows in order to maximize performance, avoid congestion, and optimize resources.


Flow Vision also provides a test flow generation capability that you can use to pre-test a storage network infrastructure for robustness. This test flow generation capability is also useful for testing the internal connections on a switch before deploying the switch into a production environment. Users cannot run Flow Vision and Advanced Performance Monitor (APM), or Port Mirroring at the same time on a chassis (across logical switches).


Flow Vision is a comprehensive tool that Flow Vision includes:

  • Flow Monitor: Provides comprehensive visibility into flows in the fabric, including the ability to automatically learn (discover) flows and non-disruptively monitor flow performance. Users can monitor all flows across a specific ISL; monitor all FCP flows from a specific host to multiple targets/LUNs or from multiple hosts to a specific target/LUN; or perform FCP LUN-level monitoring of specific frame types to identify resource contention or congestion that is impacting application performance.
  • Flow Mirror: Provides the ability to non-disruptively create copies of specific application and data flows or frame types that can be captured for deeper analysis. Flow Mirror is used for in-depth analysis of flows of interest or specific frame types, such as analysis of SCSI Reservation frames, ABTS frames, or flows going to a bottlenecked device.
  • Flow Generator: Provides a built-in test traffic generator for pre-testing and validating the SAN infrastructure, including internal connections within a switch, for robustness before deploying applications. A good example of using this would be after running ClearLink Diagnostic D_Port. Although ClearLink does a saturation test it is not as robust as what Flow Generator can provide. Once ClearLink has been run on a FC link, follow that up with a very robust link saturation test using Flow Generator. Once completed, you can be assured of a stable connection.




The Fabric Vision technology of Brocade Network Advisor was developed as part of Brocade’s continuing effort to improve overall application and fabric availablility while reducing complexity. Brocade Network Advisor provides GUI-centric users with an easy to use, synergistic capability to display and manage each of the powerful Fabric Vision technology features.