Technology has been an enabler since the first hand tools and cultivation of agriculture begun. Continually improving life and increasing human productivity based on skills learned and passed down over generations and tens of thousands of years. The accumulation of knowledge and the ability to progress technology by sharing information accelerated with Johann Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. The launch of the Internet in 1991 further facilitated the sharing of information and smart phones made accessing information much easier by placing it right in an individual’s palm. Due to this, we have seen an accelerated speed at which communication occurs and subsequently, over the years, an increase in technology development.
In 2014 Brocade and Emulex entered into a strategic relationship with a focus on advancing Fibre Channel technology. Similar to technology progression which came before, the premise was to share information and ideas around advancing the technology forward to increase productivity of the storage administrator and make their life simpler. Over the last year and a half, both companies have been actively meeting, developing rich features and the fruit of this labor has finally arrived. New joint features bring forth a unique set of capabilities that further extend the value of Fibre Channel by increasing reliability, strengthening resiliency and improving management visibility and diagnostics. You can read Emulex’s Saurabh Sureka’s account of this relationship and more about the feature advantages within his blog titled, “The Dessert is on us: Upgrade Your SAN to Gen 5 Fibre Channel (16GFC).”
Enhanced Visibility, Diagnostics and Control
Connectivity is critical in any network and the ability of an administrator to understand the environment is vital to ensuring consistent application performance and avoiding surprise outages. Several of the new features address this ability; ClearLink Diagnostics, Read Diagnostic Parameters and Link Cable Beaconing improve overall diagnostics, enable more automation and end-to-end Fabric Vision monitoring of the fabric. Included is the ability to verify the physical and optical integrity of the infrastructure and advanced diagnostic features to identify possible errors and where they initiate so issues can be addressed prior to experiencing a problem.
Reduction of Manual Processes
Manual processes are inefficient, add cost, and are prone to human error. Brocade and Emulex address this by implementing Host Name Registration, which automates the discovery of HBA ports and assigns unique identifiers. This information is then captured by Fabric Vision and can be tracked, eliminating the need for manual spreadsheet. The end result is more efficiency, making it much easier to add and track servers and HBAs and keep pace with new server implementations to support increasing IT demands.
Eliminate Intermittent and Potential Problems
With higher speeds and larger networks comes an increased risk of transmission errors due to noise or congestion, no protocol is immune to this. Forward Error Correction (FEC) was introduced to address and minimize the chance of transmitting errors and limiting their impact on storage networks performance. FEC controls errors in data transmission by sending a redundant algorithm that the receiver can then use to verify if the information received is correct or if an error is contained within the data block. If an error is identified, the redundant information can be used to correct the bit error without a need for retransmission of the data. This ensures both the integrity of the data and provides optimal performance by minimizing retransmissions.
Characteristically, Gen 5 introduced the next generation of industry leading performance and low latencies for enterprise storage on a purpose built and proven protocol. However, generational speed progression is not they only reason that FC has kept pace with increasing storage traffic, evolving requirements for virtualized environments and the adoption of flash storage. It is Fibre Channel’s innovative features that create a compelling value proposition. With these and other advanced features FC becomes a technology enabler by streamlining provisioning, further increasing reliability, and adding resiliency and improved management visibility. Like technology advancements that have come before it, these new features promise to increase productivity by making jobs easier and therefore improving quality of life. These features are available today and you can learn more about them by watching the short video below: