network45
Virtualization

Mike McNamara (Global) - Taking Convergence to the Next Level

Enabling the Network to be Unified
The widespread economic slowdown has created a business environment that demands IT increases flexibility, efficiency, and performance - without adding costs. Virtualization is the first wave of sweeping changes to data center architecture to do just that. Virtualization of desktops, servers, and storage cost effectively eliminates much inefficiency in traditional data center architectures. However, there is still room for improvement. Many enterprise data centers deploy an Ethernet network for IP traffic and a fibre channel storage area network (SAN) for block-mode SCSI traffic. As these data centers deploy virtualized infrastructures, zones of virtualization are created around these different networks.

Deploying and managing two distinct networks results in high capital and operational costs. Each infrastructure has its own underutilized, captive storage. Each requires its own data recovery solutions and data management tools. After the hardware, software, and cabling are purchased and installed, two independent, specialized teams are often needed to manage the different networks. The two-network model consumes a large number of network ports, and carries high ongoing operational costs as a result of numerous protocol specific adapters and switches to power, cool, and house the infrastructure. In the past, separation of these two networks made sense, because each met different data center needs and the technology to support a truly converged network did not exist. With fibre channel over Ethernet (FCoE), advances in 10-gigabit Ethernet, and approved standards in data center bridging, all that has changed. Today, a converged network is a reality.

Benefits of a Converged Network
By moving away from the traditional model of separate storage and local area networks (SANs and LANs) to a converged network infrastructure, you can remove inefficiencies from your infrastructure while experiencing
flexibility, including:

• Cutting the number of ports, cables, and switches in half
• Reducing the physical footprint
• Simplifying management
• Cutting operational and capital costs
• Eliminating underused and stranded bandwidth
• Protecting investments by deploying them where they are needed most

Making Network Convergence a Reality
End-to-end network convergence-from host to storage-is made possible by a unified, multiprotocol architecture and the evolution of these key components:

• Fibre channel over Ethernet
• Enhanced 10-gigabit Ethernet physical transport
• Converged network adapters (CNAs) and server adapters with OpenFCoE
• Multihop and multipathing

Together these components provide the means for transmission quality and service availability. They also enable the performance, security, and operational management characteristics that one would expect with fibre channel.

By Mike McNamara, Sr. Manager, SAN Product Marketing and Alliances, NetApp

 

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