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Gen 6 Fibre Channel Links Flash and Virtualized Architectures with Unprecedented Speed and Insight

By AJ Casamento posted 03-04-2016 09:21 AM


The exploding number of virtualized applications and increasing use of All Flash Arrays (AFAs) have catapulted storage networking requirements to new heights. Storage administrators now need a foundational business architecture that can support the massive data demands of virtualized applications and stunningly high storage media performance, while providing the visibility and insights needed to manage the entire storage infrastructure as a cohesive resource.


Gen 6 Fibre Channel is the ideal infrastructure technology: a high-performance, error-free, deterministic, secure storage network. No other networking technology comes close. Not IP storage, not hyper-converged networks, not hybrid or private cloud solutions. To this foundation, Brocade adds intelligent fabrics and integrations with the vendor community that simplify operations in an increasingly complex world. Whether you’re considering an upgrade to Gen 6 or a different storage technology, consider these factors.


Fibre Channel Performance

End-to-End Performance

At one end of your storage network, you have AFAs that deliver some of the fastest storage on the planet. At the other end, you have highly virtualized servers. Highly virtualized servers mean lots of data traffic and lots of virtual machine (VM) movement to keep workloads balanced, application response times low, and productivity high. If the storage network connecting those two resources isn’t fast enough, you get end-AND-end performance instead of end-to-end performance. That means less value in terms of your applications and a much lower return on that expensive flash storage investment.


Gen 6 Fibre Channel switches and adapters will deliver up to 128 Gbps—eight times faster than the current standard. That might seem like overkill. It’s not. Unlike the relatively flat growth of non-virtualized applications, market analysts are seeing ongoing explosive growth in virtualized applications. Gartner predicts this number will reach 45 million in 2016, which will represent 80 percent of the world’s applications. As the number of VMs in your data center continues to increase and the cost of flash memory continues to drop, you’re going to need that speed to maintain a balanced infrastructure—end to end.


Fibre Channel Scalability

Real Integration with Virtual Tools

One of the biggest challenges of managing a dynamic infrastructure of physical and virtual resources is network-wide visibility. You can’t manage what you can’t measure, and you can’t measure what you can't see. Brocade addresses this challenge through integration with virtualization products. For example, Brocade Fibre Channel fabrics interoperate with VMware vRealize Operations Insight to provide end-to-end visibility across physical and virtual networks. The product integration is enabled via VMware vRealize plug-ins that pull information from Brocade devices, and allow the hypervisor team to view network statistics using their own tools.


No other environment can provide this visibility. The best they can do is query switch management ports and ask for summary statistics based on sampling. Even analyzers or taps can only see the port to which they are attached. A Brocade Gen 6 fabric sees all, and tells all.


fibre channel availability

Worry-Free Operation

No question, today’s storage infrastructures are complex, unpredictable environments. Administrators are rightfully concerned about reliability, scalability, and manageability under these conditions.


Fortunately, Fibre Channel networks have an inherently lossless design and are known for their reliability. Gen 6 adds the ability to recover up to 11 bit errors on a link without retransmit through the use of Forward Error Correction (FEC). And the Clear Link feature ensures that the network is fit for purpose before it’s used in production. On top of these capabilities, Brocade builds fabrics that are self-forming for fast deployment and transparent scalability, and self-healing for even greater reliability.  Brocade Fabric Vision technology simplifies management and improves availability and performance through advanced policy-based monitoring, management, and diagnostics. Gen 6 extends Brocade Fabric Vision capabilities with a new IO Insight feature that enhances the visibility into the health of your storage environment. IO Insight proactively monitors storage device IO performance and behavior through built-in instrumentation to gain deep insight into problems and ensure service levels.

The merger of technology and design in these areas frees your IT staff from tactical implementations, so they can focus on strategic goals.


fibre channel flash

Fit for the Future  

As the use of virtualization and the performance of flash technology continue to increase, the importance of selecting the right storage network will grow as well. Next-generation flash storage based on the NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) specification, for example, will seamlessly integrate with Fibre Channel networks. NVMe has the potential to move data between network-connected flash arrays with the same speed at which data now moves within a physical server. With more such specifications under development, it is critical to standardize on a network that can meet your performance needs in the context of your virtualized world with unparalleled reliability, scalability, and manageability. That network is Fibre Channel, and the vendor of choice is, has been, and always will be Brocade.


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