The Gen 5 fibre channel guide [ITP.net (United Arab Emirates)]
(ITP.net (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Higher throughput is important for keeping up with the many server and storage technology advancements, but the true value of Gen 5 fibre channel goes well beyond faster links.
Through proper equipment vendor selection, it is possible to dramatically simplify storage area network (SAN) deployment and management and drive down operational costs, achieve higher reliability and utilise the latest innovative, breakthrough technologies.
Gen 5 fibre channel is the latest evolution in storage area networks (SANs). Based on technology developed by the T11 technical committee that defines fibre channel interfaces, Gen 5 fibre channel doubles the data throughput of 8 Gbps links, from 800 megabytes per second (MB/sec) to 1600 MB/sec with Gen 5 fibre channel.
Deployed in 90% of Fortune 1000 data centres, fibre channel (FC) is the de facto standard for storage networking in the data centre. Gen 5 fibre channel is the proven, purpose-built network infrastructure for data centre storage, delivering unmatched reliability, scalability, and 16 Gbps performance.
The need for Gen 5 fibre channel
Emerging and evolving critical workloads, higher-density virtualisation, and cloud-based architectures are continuing to push the limits of SAN infrastructure. New technologies such as flash-based storage and new Gen 5 fibre channel storage arrays are shifting the focus from storage to interconnect. This trend is driving ever higher Input/Output (I/O) and bandwidth requirements, driving the need for higher speeds, as well as more reliable networks.
Multiple server and storage trends and technology advances are driving the need for Gen 5 fibre channel, including the increased number and size of applications; high-density server virtualisation;solid-state drives (SSDs) and flash-based storage; and new 16 Gbps disk arrays.
The big growth in all computing environments is the increasing size and number of software applications. The digitisation of information and growing use of rich media and interactive Web 2.0 applications drive greater storage capacity and bandwidth requirements. In addition, applications such as databases and other mission-critical applications are growing rapidly, yet continue to require non-stop availability. The storage network must be prepared to handle increased capacity, greater throughput, and higher levels of resiliency.
High-density server virtualisation
Server virtualisation allows multiple applications to share a single physical server, increasing efficiency and driving up server utilisation rates. Evolving critical workloads and Tier 1 applications are being hosted on virtual machines (VMs). VM densities are steadily increasing to 10, 20, or more VMs per physical server—all booting from the SAN and accessing SAN resources. The increased usage, criticality, and density of VMs drive demand for higher performance (bandwidth and I/O), as well as increased reliability and availability from the storage infrastructure. In highly virtualised environments, any congestion, poor I/O performance, or failures in the storage network impact a larger number of applications.
Flash-based storage and SSDs are driving incredible advances in storage, dramatically reducing the historical I/O performance gap between the server side (with multi-core processors and faster memory) and the storage side. SSD storage addresses both I/O and throughput bottlenecks, enabling faster block and file-based storage performance for high-density virtualised workloads and traditional mission-critical applications. Whether they are deployed as standalone SSD-based arrays or directly connected to the server CPU and memory bus, SSDs accelerate I/O performance, driving the need for higher I/O bandwidth performance and greater availability from the storage network.
Gen 5 fibre channel storage arrays
New 16 Gbps-capable fibre channel storage arrays from leading storage providers are becoming available. This requires that the network is not a bottleneck. Data centre managers need to take a close look at their storage network infrastructure to determine whether it is capable of delivering the reliability, performance, and operational simplicity the new technology requires. If not, the bottleneck has simply moved and expected gains will not be realised. These and other data centre evolutions are driving the need for Gen 5 fibre channel infrastructures.
The benefits of higher speed
By doubling the speed, Gen 5 fibre channel reduces the time to transfer data between two ports. There are a number of benefits to the higher speed with Gen 5 fibre channel.
The first application of new fibre channel speeds is on inter-switch links (ISLs) between switches. Large fabrics are composed of many switches, which are connected via multiple ISLs. Reduction of the number of ISLs between switches is a key benefit of each higher speed.
The higher-speed links of 16 Gbpsfibre channel eliminate tens or hundreds of ports as compared to an 8 Gbpsfibre channel fabric. The real savings occur when the number of HBAs, switches, and end devices can be decreased, given the higher performance of 16 Gbps FC.
Besides the reduction in equipment that cuts power consumption dramatically, Gen 5 fibre channel also reduces the power required to transfer bits on the link. When the cost of cabling and operating expense (OpEx) such as electricity and cooling are considered, the total cost of ownership (TCO) is often less when links are run at twice the speed. The goal of Gen 5 fibre channel design is for a 16 Gbps FC port to consume less power than 2 × 8 Gbps FC links, which deliver the same throughput.
Easier cable management
Managing hundreds of cables from a single switch or bundles of cable from a server is a daunting task. The reduction of cables means less troubleshooting and recabling. The cost of cabling is significant; reducing the number of links by using Gen 5 fibre channel links reduces the work and cost involved in cable management.
Deploying a Gen 5 fibre channel SAN now also makes server and storage upgrades easier down the road. With a Gen 5 fibre channel infrastructure in place, you can easily and non-disruptively swap out servers and upgrade storage arrays to take advantage of technology advancements as needed, without impacting the rest of the infrastructure. This approach is far easier than having to swap out the fabric as well as the server and storage when an upgrade is needed.
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