Is Your Storage Fabric in Need of an Upgrade?

Ever-expanding storage volumes and the need for improved performance is driving adoption of all-flash arrays. However, all-flash arrays often expose bottlenecks in legacy storage-area networks (SANs) that limit the performance gains afforded by flash.

Because storage is vital to operations, most enterprises implement SANs to support their storage infrastructure. Fibre Channel is the tried-and-true protocol for enterprise-class SANs, delivering the speed, capacity, scalability and reliability for mission-critical applications. Fibre Channel SANs create a switched network fabric, which enables any-to-any port connectivity, multi-pathing, low latency, high availability and load balancing.

Although 32Gbps Fibre Channel switches started hitting the market in 2016, uptake has been slow. Many of today’s SANs still use the 16Gbps Fibre Channel technology that forms that was first introduced in 2011. However, experts say that increased flash adoption is starting to drive upgrades to 32Gbps SANs.

Cisco is helping organizations move to 32Gbps technology with the new Cisco MDS 9132T Fibre Channel Switch. The product offers director-level capabilities in a cost-effective and compact footprint with up to 32 auto-sensing line-rate 32Gbps Fibre Channel ports. Its versatile, semi-modular design is suitable for entry-level, departmental and enterprise-class SANs. Customers can grow from eight to 16 ports initially on the base, with further expansion to 32 ports using the 16-port field-swappable expansion module.

Cisco SAN Telemetry Streaming provides advanced telemetry and diagnostics data, enabling deep insight into SAN fabrics. The Cisco MDS 9700 32G Module offers built-in sensors to provide pervasive data plane visibility for troubleshooting, infrastructure capacity planning and optimization. Data is streamed real time and can be sent to any analytics application. The 32G line card with built-in telemetry can be placed anywhere in the I/O path for seamless integration and ease of operation.

Cisco is also offering direct technology integration with the VirtualWisdom application from Virtual Instruments. VirtualWisdom monitors and analyzes the performance and utilization of Fibre Channel SAN infrastructure.  Its app-centric analytics enable customers to find and resolve infrastructure issues before they impact application service levels by applying machine learning to determine root cause, and recommending remedies and configuration optimizations to proactively resolve problems.

Cisco Fibre Channel SAN customers can deploy VirtualWisdom non-intrusively, eliminating the need for physical TAP and hardware probes. Data is streamed in real time from the Cisco MDS 9700 32G Module to the VirtualWisdom Platform Appliance, uniting Virtual Instruments analytics capabilities with Cisco’s SAN infrastructure.

Cisco also affirmed its commitment to Cisco Nexus customers who choose to consolidate their LAN and SAN infrastructure at the data center access layer. The Cisco Nexus 9300-FX platforms are the next generation of fixed Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches, and offer support for 16Gbps Fibre Channel now and 32Gbps Fibre Channel in the future. This provides an easy migration path from the earlier generation of Cisco Nexus 5000, Cisco Nexus 5600, and Cisco Nexus 6000 switches.

Organizations implementing all-flash arrays should ensure that their SAN fabrics are up to the task. Sequel’s storage and networking experts can help you evaluate these new Cisco solutions and develop an upgrade strategy that will take your organization into the future.