Around the Storage Block Blog
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FCoE and converged networks: Moving from the storage edge toward improved TCO

By Matt Morrissey, StorageWorks Product Manager

 

You'll recognize this common server deployment strategy in your data center: LAN and SAN switch devices used to connect to host servers are smaller pizza box access/edge switches that are physically located at the "top of the rack" of servers to provide connectivity. These top-of-rack switches typically have a series of uplinks to larger chassis-based or director-class aggregation or core switches that provide communication across all of the rack of servers in one or more data centers

 

 

 

As you're looking around your data center today-where is the complexity in your communications infrastructure? It's not at the storage edge. It's actually at the server-to-network infrastructure connection point. It's all of the cables, NICs, HBAs and switches required to gain connectivity to the plethora of servers in the data center. Look at the quantity of switch ports and cables-all right there at the server-to-network edge.

 

 

 

The goal of converged networks is to take a look at how you can reduce the complexity and the size of this infrastructure to really optimize and reduce the cost of both the acquisition and the operational expenses of this infrastructure.    

 

 

 

You may have a rack of servers that could have 2, 4, 6 or 8 NIC adapters with 2, 3 or 4 fibre channel adapters in each. That's a large set of both copper and optical cables. In addition, if you are doing a ToR switch deployment, you probably have large number of switch ports and switches required to support these racks. If you multiple this by hundreds if not thousands of servers in your data center, it all adds up to be quite a daunting management task to manage this infrastructure.

 

 

 

As an alternative, a converged network and FCoE technology like the HP StorageWorks Converged Network Switches allows you to replace your HBAs and NICs with Converged Network Adapters that support higher speed 10Gb technology.  So now the number of slots used in your servers gets reduced-and the number of cables, switches and switch ports required are dramatically reduced as well. This means you can get equal or more work out of fewer components in your infrastructure. And guess what? Your operational costs from power, cooling and management overhead are going to be reduced, too.

 

 

 

I hate to over use the TCO term but it's the right one here. Because total cost of ownership is exactly what is going to really make FCoE a successful technology. 

 

We'll be blogging more on this topic. So stay tuned. In the meantime let us know what your company is planning around FCoE. If you're looking for more information on HP's converged network switch offerings, this data sheet provides a good product overview.

Unrealized advantages of Boot from SAN

By David Lawrence, Product Marketing Manager,  FC Directors and Software


One of the ways a SAN can add value is by hosting your boot disks externally from your servers.  To do this you need a remote boot technology for host operating systems known as Boot from SAN (BFS).  There are three necessary ingredients to a BFS configuration:



  • A boot disk image located on shared storage accessible via a SAN

  • A server connected to a SAN through a host bus adapter (HBA)

  • An HBA with BIOS contains instructions that enable the server to boot from SAN.


 There are many benefits to doing this:



  • Severs can be replaced, re-purposed, and added more quickly with boot disks hosted on SAN

  • For BladeSystems, taking the boot disks out of the enclosure reduces power and cooling requirements

  • Boot disks can be consolidated on an storage array for easier management, improved security, and higher availability.

  • BFS minimizes server maintenance and reduces backup time


Even with all these benefits, BFS is rarely deployed today due to the complexity of setting up the arrays, servers, and HBAs involved. Since HP tests each of its infrastructure products thoroughly, there is a wealth of knowledge built up on how to simplify the set-up of BFS,  Click here to get a look at some of the available information to help you.  There is link at the bottom of the page where HP Engineers will take your questions on BFS via email. 


Infrastructure vendors too are doing their best to take the complexity out of BFS deployment.  Brocade talks about their BSF capabilities in this webinar

Tech Ed Days 4 & 5

By Ian Selway, WW Solution Marketing Manager

 

So as day 5 is really only a short day, I’ve waited to send my day 4 comments and I’m combining the summary of days 4 and 5 here at TechEd Berlin. Overnight the Wednesday to the Thursday, our stand designers added a whole bunch of balloons to celebrate the 20th anniversary of HP’s ProLiant range of servers. All day we also had cupcakes on the stand that not only reminded delegates of the occasion but also helped attract folks to the stand. I’ve attached a picture of the HP stand all decked out with balloons. Of course the other big news from overnight was the announcement of HP’s intention to acquire 3Com. We had expected a lot of questions from those attending. I’m not sure what the experience of others was, but I don’t think (aside from HP folks asking) that I had a single question asked. I guess everyone is so busy focusing on the bigger things happening between Microsoft and HP.

FCoE...it's almost time to get moving!

by Sean Fitzpatrick, StorageWorks Storage Platforms Business Development


Over the past few months, we've all witnessed positive milestones for FCoE...but...is it ready? 


This past June the Fibre Channel Standards T11.3 BB-5 (back bone) working group finalized defining the spec (or ratified) and voted to forward it to INCITS for public review and eventually publication next year.   Is the BB-5 spec good enough to develop product? Absolutely!


Also in June HP announced the availability of two ToR (top of rack) FCoE switches from Brocade and Cisco.  Other companies have also announced future availability of FCoE products.  This is positive move in the right direction for the industry and for customers looking to lower the TCO over time.    


More resources and tools are available today from Brocade, Cisco, Emulex and QLogic to assist with evaluation and planning.  HP's own SAN Design Guide provides great design ideas on how to build or modify existing SANs, including a dedicated application note on FCoE implementation guidelines.


As I've stated before, this stage is very important part of the early adopter Phase I to allow customers to evaluate the technology.  The real adoption has yet to develop (phase II) and it will, once additional mature products become available.  In the mean time IT managers should investigate adopting FCoE for small pilot projects and focusing on how it's going to improve their overall TCO.


From a timeline perspective 2009 is the year for proof of concept and planning.  In 2010 I'm anticipating a wider breath of product availability from all the major suppliers.   


HP's position is FCoE won't overtake traditional Fibre Channel next week, or even next year.  But, now that FCoE is starting to move, it's getting exciting.


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Not your grandfather’s NAS…

By Dirk Kunselman, Product Manager


If I ask you to tell me the first thing that comes to mind when I mention NAS, you might reference high-end (and expensive) file serving appliances.  Or you might mention consumer-class devices that are becoming more prevalent at your local electronics retailer.  Or you might say that you know it's like a SAN, only different.  You might even reveal that he's your favorite rapper.  Oops, you lost me.


Fact is, NAS (Network Attached Storage) is often misunderstood and more frequently underappreciated.  Most folks associate it with files, but as NAS has evolved, it's taken on more than just file protocols and print services.  The term is now almost synonymous with (and sometimes even replaced by) unified-or combined file and block-storage.  It's a great story, especially for small environments: why just network and consolidate one type of data when you can serve files for your clients and blocks for your servers all from the same storage system?   


That's where the new HP StorageWorks X1000 and X3000 Network Storage Systems come in.  They're NAS devices, yes; but moreover, they're unified storage systems since they all include an iSCSI Target standard.  An X1000 model can be that single storage consolidation platform by itself, while an X3000 Gateway can turn an existing array or SAN into a unified consolidation solution (utilizing both SAN and Ethernet connections) by adding IP-based file and/or iSCSI protocols to it.


NAS isn't just about sharing files any more--it's about sharing information.


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Labels: iSCSI| NAS| SAN| SMB| storage
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  • 25+ years experience around HP Storage. The go-to guy for news and views on all things storage..
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