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How Gen6 Fibre Channel Modernization of All-Flash Data Center Impact Businesses

Demartek
Image: Demartek

Overview

Fibre Channel is the only trusted purposely built and widely proven network for infrastructure storage that requires non-stop availability, all-out performance, and absolute scalability that universally connects businesses to their overly critical applications and data, and for itself plays a vital role in the world’s financial systems. Throughout the evolution, Fibre Channel has been at the forefront of every single rise of storage improvement in the data center. And at the center of that evolution is Brocade, which has helped more customers deliver more value from the applications and infrastructure by propelling Fibre Channel innovation. 

The Main Factor for Success

Gen 6 Fibre Channel with Brocade Fabric Vision technology | Source: https://community.brocade.com/

The next-generation Fibre Channel is the Sixth Generation (Gen 6) Fibre Channel devised to deliver performance, scalability, and reliability requirements for hyper-scale virtualization, new data center architectures, and SSD storage technology. Brocade Gen 6 Fibre Channel brings together ground-breaking hardware, software, and integrated network sensors, guaranteeing the industry’s maximum level of operational stability and redefining application performance. With Brocade Fabric Vision technology, Brocade Gen 6 Fibre Channel is the network innovation required for the virtualized, all-flash data center. The Brocade Fabric Vision technology improves visibility into the healthiness of storage environments, providing greater control and insight to swiftly pinpoint problems and accomplish critical Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Finally, innovation for the storage system is well on track.

A key factor for success in any IT enterprise is to take advantage of new technologies and embrace digital technology transformation such as flash and next-gen NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) over fabrics. However, gaining the maximum benefit from these investments requires modernizing the storage network. 

The Need to Modernize Data Center

Confronted with the exponential growth in data, evolving workloads, hyper-scale virtualization, and fresh demands for always-on business operations, the IT storage infrastructure must evolve to enable businesses to flourish in this modern era. Business leaders are accepting digital transformation as an essential element for success, expecting that IT would help them innovate much faster, boost profitability, and gain a competitive advantage. However, digital transformation also put new pressures on IT organizations driving mission-critical IT storage environments to the limit. Legacy infrastructure was purely not designed to support these dynamics and the present rate of progress in business requirements. IT necessitates modernization of the data center and setting up a storage infrastructure that could provide greater consistency, performance, and predictability. 

The latest cutting-edge and most electrifying storage innovation at present is flash-based storage. The flash-based products are spectacularly fast-tracking data center transformation due primarily to the exceptional speed and the swiftly increasing cost-effectiveness of these products. In the future, next-gen flash storage based on NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) over Fabrics would provide much more value through meaningful performance gains. As businesses redefine application performance with flash storage, they do require networks that provide extremely low latency, greater-capacity bandwidth, and superior dependability. And to take full advantage of flash-based storage, storage network innovation is also required. The older network will bottleneck the performance of an all-flash data center.

Flash storage demands maximum network speed and throughput | Source: https://community.brocade.com/


By leveraging Brocade Gen 6 Fibre Channel, establishments can streamline their networks and boost up virtualized applications to take full advantage of the maximum capabilities of a future-ready all-flash data center. Additionally, with a variety of deployment possibilities and future-proof integration, companies can impeccably adapt, transform, and optimize their business to meet the next-generation storage requirements based on NVMe over Fabrics. Breakthrough 32 Gbps performance fast-tracks application reaction time by up to 71 percent, thus removing IO bottlenecks and letting loose the maximum performance of flash and next-gen NVMe-based storage.

Virtualized All-Flash Data Center Network Innovation

The flash-based storage system is exponentially driving advances in storage, allowing quicker block-based and file-based storage performance for high-density virtualized workloads and traditional mission-critical applications, causing many businesses to move to an all-flash environment thus eliminating performance and scalability issues. However, this move pushes the need for higher IO bandwidth performance and more availability from the storage network. 

New server and storage technology innovations like flash-based storage are pushing up storage network bandwidth requirements well beyond existing capabilities. Furthermore, the requirements for higher-density server virtualization, mixed/dynamic workloads, new latency-sensitive applications, and overall application development each placed unheard-of demands on the network. It is simple to comprehend the most apparent benefits of the modernization of networking technology to increase the speed of data transfers and decrease the number of links and devices that are required to accomplish network tasks, yet the pressing question often arises whether this higher-level of infrastructure performance and throughput are necessary to an organization’s network. 

Demartek evaluation testing shows that even when using an all-flash array with 8 Gbps target ports, considerable enhancements in application performance could be accomplished by upgrading the network to 32 Gbps with Gen 6 Fibre Channel - without necessitating any alterations to the target storage system. In the testing done, the completion time was a full 71% less with Gen 6 Fibre channel compared to a legacy 8 Gbps network, facilitating a faster decision-making process and proffering significant business worth. Although the breakthrough in the application performance and throughput provided by Gen 6 Fibre Channel is necessary and required to meet these performance requirements and leverage the new flash storage capabilities, it is additionally important to address the need for greater availability and predictability from the storage network.

Such requirements had been addressed by Brocade Gen 6 Fibre Channel by moving further than performance to offer a diversity of unique innovations delivered through the Gen 6 Fibre Channel Application- ASIC (Specific Integrated Circuit), combining Brocade Fabric OS® (Brocade FOS) and Brocade Network Advisor. Altogether, these new competencies boost operational stability and increase business suppleness, giving the mission-critical foundation the required support to “always-on” business operations and to impeccably integrate next-generation storage.

Why Brocade Gen 6 Fibre Channel for All-Flash?

Brocade Gen 6 Fibre Channel for All-Flash | Source: https://wwpi.com


Albeit the storage connectivity speed is less than the maximum network throughput, benchmark testing with factitious workloads shows that faster network speeds improve the overall ability of flash storage to maximize input/output operations per second (IOPS). Getting the maximum worth out of the low-latency, high-throughput designs of an all-flash and flash-enhanced hybrid storage, admins need both high-speed connectivity and consistent performance via highly deterministic data delivery. For example, the integration of a flash array with an 8 Gbps Fibre Channel connectivity into a Gen 6 storage fabric with 32 Gbps connectivity to servers, allows up to four times more queries to be completed in the same amount of time. The gradual gains achieved by flash storage will eventually boost the application reaction time, the efficiency of the IT infrastructure, and the overall return on storage investment. Furthermore, Gen 6 connectivity provides on average a 50% reduction in application response times compared to 16 Gbps storage networks and HBAs (Host Bus Adapters) and a 71% reduction over 8 Gbps networks and HBAs.

For workloads, for example, OLTP (Online Transaction Processing), this upsurge in performance turns into a step up in the number of transactions executed and an increase in income generation for the organization. From this viewpoint, a small gradual investment in an optimized server and network infrastructure allows full use of the array performance, bringing real growth in ROI from capital outlays. As the necessity to scale the storage ecological get bigger and more flash storage is added into the ecosystem with much faster connectivity speeds, Gen 6 networks could support storage expansion without turning into a bottleneck to application performance.

Moreover, Fibre Channel fabrics guarantee a very dependable network with deterministic data delivery, a particularly important attribute for guaranteeing regularity of data transfer with foreseeable performance under the usual usage, in addition to offering fast throughput speeds. As the system speeds increase, preventing the Fibre Channel frame re-transmission re-tries because of bit errors becomes critical to meet the Fibre Channel standard for bit error rates and to keep up optimum performance levels. 

The adoption of FEC (Forward Error Correction) pioneered by Brocade in Gen 5 Fibre Channel enhanced link reliability. In the Gen 6 standard, FEC forms the integral component in sustaining 32 Gbps throughput with OM4 (Optical Mode 4) cable. At higher data transfer speeds, this ability to correct bit errors without disposing of the frame is essential for keeping up or accomplishing the dependability of transmission, specifically by older cables or longer links, and practically removes the need for performance-disrupting IO retransmissions. This regularity of response time enables application administrators and storage vendors to optimize their tuning of response times further correctly for workloads, resulting in faster performance levels and better value from the flash-enhanced array.

The Unique Innovation of Brocade Gen 6 Fibre Channel

The Brocade Gen 6 Fibre Channel with its incomparable bandwidth, performance, and speed is not enough on its own to meet the demands of customers managing mission-critical IT infrastructure. The drivers at the heels of the bandwidth and performance gains, such as the high-density virtualization and the flash-based storage provided by Gen 6 Fibre Channel, require that they are easily deployed and consistently operated – with a low operating expense (OpEx). The capacity to simplify management, provide profound and granular perceptibility into storage performance, speed up troubleshooting, and empower performance optimization are the things indispensable to ensuring operational regularity and stability for any large-scale environment.

Enhancing operational stability and increasing business agility, Brocade Gen 6 Fibre Channel provides many advanced technologies that go far beyond throughput performance. Brocade Fabric Vision technology provides exceptional visibility and insight throughout the storage network, all through all-powerful monitoring, diagnostic, and management tools that significantly boost uptime, optimize performance, and lessen expenditures. Brocade Fabric Vision technology, which is new to Brocade Gen 6 Fibre Channel, now includes the Brocade IO Insight capability. 

By taking the initiative of monitoring IO performance and behavior across integrated network sensors, Brocade IO Insight extends Brocade Fabric Vision technology, providing deep insight into storage performance problems and helping to ensure service levels. This capability non-disruptively and non-intrusively bring together IO data from every device port, providing for a monitoring strategy that quantifies thresholds and generates alerts. The integrated network sensors of IO Insight provide IO performance management that is designed to prevent reliance on intrusive and disruptive physical taps. The application of integrated and device level IO latency and the IOPS monitoring provide the capability to a baseline application performance and identify degraded performance. 

Conclusion

Not only mean to support niche applications but as well for assorted workloads that comprise production and business-critical applications, data centers are recognizing the value proposition for all-flash and flash-enhanced storage. Modernization of data centers starts with Gen 6 Fibre Channel, but modern networks for the all-flash data center need more than just higher throughput and lower latency. Innovations from Brocade such as the Brocade Fabric Vision technology with IO Insight guarantee a consistent, predictable, and greatly scalable foundation that businesses could use to optimize their business and seamlessly acclimate to meet next-generation requirements for storage-based on NVMe over Fabrics. The Brocade Gen 6 Fibre Channel brings the improved operational stability and boosted business agility needed to prosper in the new modern data center. Today, IT companies leveraging Brocade Gen 6 Fibre Channel can ensure that their storage networks are adaptable and future-ready, optimizing virtualized applications and unlocking the full capabilities of the all-flash data center both today and in the future.

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References:

1. Networkworld | Brocade Gen6 Fibre Channel prepares businesses for an all-flash world

2. Hewlett Packard Enterprise | Data center modernization with HPE Gen6 Fibre Channel Networking

3. Hewlett Packard Enterprise | Get the most out of the all-flash data center with HPE Gen6 Fibre Channel

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