Unlock the full potential of flash storage technology

18 May, 2017
Robert Mahoney

Most often, when we consider the challenges resulting from relentless data growth and escalating demands for increased IT system performance, we think of storage. But networks must bear the same burdens, and the challenges posed by exploding data volumes and ultra-low latency become most acute where servers and storage meet – the Fibre Channel storage area network (SAN).

I believe, in the 21st century, an FC SAN must provide the same capabilities as the storage to which it connects – high performance and bandwidth, simple scalability that supports and won’t hinder business growth, the flexibility to protect previous technology investments while accommodating new solutions easily and quickly, great reliability, and some means to update and enhance functionality without bringing the enterprise to a halt while obsolete components are replaced.

image of serversIn the world of FC SANs, the Director-class switch offers all of the above, and that’s why the announcement this week of the new IBM 32 Gbps 48-port FC line card[1] is so important. It is designed to be inserted into any of the current Cisco MDS 9700 FC SAN Directors, including the 9718, 9710 and 9706 models. Its modularity means it can help protect current networking investments while non-disruptively increasing the Director’s capabilities to support escalating IT infrastructure requirements driven by today’s systems of engagement, big data analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT) and cognitive application workloads.

The new IBM 32 Gbps line card helps enterprises unlock the full potential of their flash storage investments by doubling the throughput[2] of the current 16 Gbps MDS 9700 chassis. It helps to reduce costs through the flexibility of being able to handle high performance requirements while offering cost-efficient connectivity to help lower I/O workloads. And the new card comes with onboard FC analytics and diagnostics to help detect, visualize, diagnose and repair SAN issues.

The new 48-port 32 Gbps line card enables enterprise SAN consolidation[3] with fewer hardware components[4].  This opens the door to scalability as SANs grow – while protecting existing investments.

IBM believes that enterprises that have deployed flash arrays only to see their performance bottlenecks move from storage to the network will benefit from the new IBM line cards for MDS 9700 Directors. Big data and high-density server virtualization environments that generate large volumes of data traffic can benefit as well. Perhaps most importantly, the new line card helps to improve the return on investments made in Director-class FC SAN switches by enabling even more ways for network engineers to utilize their many advantages, including:

  • Increased scalability and availability
  • Larger port count in a single unit
  • Greater bandwidth
  • Greater reliability
  • Advanced features
  • Solid management software

image of busy highwayThe new IBM 32 Gbps line card lies at the heart of all of these advantages of deploying Cisco MDS 9700 Directors. By providing greater bandwidth, higher port count, investment protection and a wide spectrum of additional features and functionality, the new IBM line card facilitates business opportunities and helps drive competitive advantage. Unlock the full potential of flash storage technology with your I/O intensive workloads with low-latency, 32Gbps FC line cards for your existing MDS 9700 Director class 16 Gbps chassis.

[1] http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/collateral/storage-networking/mds-9700-series-multilayer-directors/datasheet-c78-738747.html

[2] http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/collateral/storage-networking/mds-9700-series-multilayer-directors/data_sheet_c78-727817.html

[3] Double the throughput equals twice the amount of data that can be sent through the same cable.  Also, customers can consolidate 2 or more ISLs into half the number, since there’s double the amount of bandwidth.

The total bandwidth provided by each 16 Gbps 48-port FC linecard (FC 3648) = 768 Gbps FC. The total bandwidth provided by each 32 Gbps 48-port FC linecard (FC 3649) = 1536 Gbps FC. So, by using this new 32 Gbps line card, the same bandwidth can be achieved with half the amount of FC line cards.

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