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Mainframe Solutions

The Brocade 7840 Extension Switch: Taking Business Continuity Extension for IBM System z to The Next Level

by Dr.Steve.Guendert ‎10-20-2014 01:09 PM - edited ‎12-04-2014 09:21 AM (7,759 Views)

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) continues to be a primary challenge and top of mind concern for most IT organizations running their businesses on IBM System z.  As a matter of fact, a recent IDC worldwide storage solutions market analysis perspective, cited meeting Service Level Agreements (SLAs) on BC/DR as the most pressing challenge for IT organizations.  When the question “What do you see as the primary challenges your IT organization faces in the next 12 to 18 months with regards to meeting your data center operational and architectural goals?” was posed, 38.3 percent of respondents cited disaster recovery/high availability capabilities. This was the #3 answer out of 9. The top answer, cited by 50.6 percent of respondents was cost/constrained capital budgets.


A follow up question asked what the most pressing storage challenge facing their organization was. The top answer, at 42.0 percent of respondents was “meeting SLAs on performance, availability, or recovery.”


Pretty telling tale to me. There is a lot of concern/angst out there about business continuity architectures.


What is causing this angst?  


In my opinion, a leading factor is the rapid and increasing rate of adoption of three (or more) site architectures by IBM System z clients.  Many enterprises running IBM System z have adopted these architectures in which two sites are located in relatively close geographic proximity (<50km) with synchronous DASD replication between these two sites.  A third, tertiary site is then located "out of region" (>300km from the other two sites) with asynchronous DASD replication occurring between the primary site and the tertiary site.  This architectural paradigm shift has driven significant increases in the amount of data replication traffic.


Other factors:


1) Raw data growth: the world's digital information storage is now doubling every two years.  This growth in primary data storage drives replication requirements growth.


2) High Availability demands: SLA requirements and recovery expectations are ever increasing.  Recovery Point Objective/Recovery Point Objectives (RPO/RTO) are ever decreasing.  Continuous availability seems to becoming the new normal.


3) Bigger, faster connections (at longer distances):  replication of data is at ever increasing speeds at ever increasing distances.


4) Increased security requirements: internal audit and government/industry regulatory requirements are necessitating that data in flight be encrypted.


5) Performance and cost factors: improved performance and System z I/O performance demands and accompanying improvement in replication network performance.  The cost of bandwidth drives an accompanying need for improved efficiency in cross site bandwidth usage and bandwidth monitoring.  


The bottom line is this: BC/DR is more important than ever to enterprises running their business on the IBM System z platform.  The growth of replication traffic, the need for more effective monitoring support for BC/DR networks, and the rapid advances in storage and IBM System z performance demand advances in BC/DR extension networking technology.  Enter the Brocade 7840.


The Brocade 7840 Extension Switch with Fabric Vision technology delivers unprecedented performance, continuous availability, and simplified management to handle the unrelenting growth of data traffic between data centers.  It maximizes replication throughput over distance using data compression, disk/DASD and tape protocol acceleration techniques, and the latest advances in Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) networking technology.  Let's look at a few specifics with each of these 3 areas.  Future blog posts over the next few weeks will discuss the technology specifics in more detail.


Industry leading performance and scalability

The Brocade 7840 Extension Switch moves 6x more data to meet the increasing BC/DR objectives through industry leading performance and scalability. The Brocade 7840 accelerates performance over distance with up to and including a heretofore unprecedented 80 Gbps of application throughput to meet the most stringent of disaster recovery replication requirements. In addition, this 80 Gbps of throughput per platform also includes capabilities such as Fast Deflate compression, encryption, and 9K jumbo frame support. The Brocade 7840’s ability to maximize replication throughput across optimized TCP links compared to storage array IP ports, eliminates the need for WAN optimization. And to top it off, all of this performance is offered with secure data flows over distance via IPsec encryption at full line rate without a performance penalty.

Continuous Availability

The Brocade 7840 Extension Switch allows IBM System z customers to achieve near-zero downtime with the most reliable extension platform to help ensure continuous availability between data centers. It does this in three ways. First, the Brocade 7840 protects against WAN link failure through extension trunking with lossless failover technology. Secondly, the Brocade 7840 achieves always-on business operations with the industry’s only non-disruptive firmware upgrades for an extension switch. Third, the Brocade 7850 maintains WAN performance during disruptions using dynamic bandwidth sharing with enhanced Adaptive Rate Limiting. These three items help ensure that your data replication extension network has the same continuous availability as the rest of your mission critical IBM System z infrastructure.

Simplified Management

The industry leading Brocade Fabric Vision technology has been enhanced for the Brocade 7840 Extension Switch and FOS 7.3. Fabric Vision allows you to deploy 15 years of best practices in one click to simplify management, reduce OpEx, and overcome infrastructure complexity between data centers. These Brocade 7840 Fabric Vision specifics will be discussed by my Brocade colleague David Lytle in his upcoming blog post. For now, I will just mention a couple of key points at a high level. The net effect is management tasks become automated with predefined policies, rules, and actions. First, the Fabric Vision enhancements we are introducing allows you to extend proactive monitoring between data centers to detect WAN anomalies and avoid unplanned downtime. Secondly, they allow for the validation and troubleshooting of the physical infrastructure with built-in traffic generator and Flow Vision, streamlining deployment. Finally, they simplify troubleshooting of end-to-end I/O flows over distance with Flow Vision to help meet recovery objectives.


The Brocade 7840 Extension Switch is a true game changer for business continuity in IBM System z environments. It is a quantum leap forward over all existing extension products in the market today in terms of performance, advanced features, management, scalability, and availability. It addresses all five factors I outlined that are causing angst over business continuity and disaster recovery. It is an ideal platform for IBM System z environments moving to three or more site architectures. Organizations running IBM System z can implement the Brocade 7840, knowing in full confidence that they will have a superior replication network platform for many years to come. In the immortal words of the MC Hammer song from my younger days, Cisco U Can’t Touch This.



Dr. Steve