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    New Webcast: Cloud File Services: SMB/CIFS and NFS…in the Cloud

    September 18th, 2014

    Imagine evaporating your existing file server into the cloud with the same experience and level of control that you currently have on-premises. On October 1st, ESF will host a live Webcast that introduces the concept of Cloud File Services and discusses the pros and cons you need to consider.

    There are numerous companies and startups offering “sync & share” solutions across multiple devices and locations, but for the enterprise, caveats are everywhere. Register now for this Webcast to learn:

    • Key drivers for file storage
    • Split administration with sync & share solutions and on-premises file services
    • Applications over File Services on-premises (SMB 3, NFS 4.1)
    • Moving to the cloud: your storage OS in a hyperscalar or service provider
    • Accommodating existing File Services workloads with Cloud File Services
    • Accommodating cloud-hosted applications over Cloud File Services

    This Webcast will be a vendor-neutral and informative discussion on this hot topic. And since it’s live, we encourage your to bring your questions for our experts. I hope you’ll register today and we’ll look forward to having you attend on October 1st 

     


    Relentless Advance Of Ethernet – And Ethernet Storage Networking

    March 31st, 2014

    As one Cisco colleague once said to me, “After the nuclear holocaust, there will be two things left: cockroaches and Ethernet.”  Not sure I like Ethernet’s unappealing company in that statement, but the truth it captures is that Ethernet, now entering its fifth decade (wow!), is ubiquitous and still continuing to advance at a breathtaking pace.  And as it advances, it advances the capabilities of storage networking based on the Ethernet backbone, be it file storage like NFS or SMB or block storage like iSCSI or FCoE.

    Most recent evidence of Ethernet’s continuing and relentless evolution is illustrated in the 28 March 2014 announcement from the Ethernet Alliance congratulating the IEEE on formation of their IEEE P802.3bs™ Task Force:

    The new group is chartered with the development of the IEEE P802.3bs 400 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) project, which will define Ethernet Media Access Control (MAC) parameters, physical layer specifications, and management parameters for the transfer of Ethernet format frames at 400 Gb/s. As the leading voice of the Ethernet ecosystem, the Ethernet Alliance is ideally positioned to support this latest move towards standardizing and advancing 400Gb/s technologies through efforts such as the launch of the Ethernet Alliance’s own 400 GbE Subcommittee.

    Ethernet is in production today from multiple vendors at 40GbE and supports all storage protocols, including FCoE, at those speeds.  Market forecasters expect the first 100GbE adapters to appear in 2015.  Obviously, it is too early to forecast when 400GbE will arrive, but the train is assuredly in motion.  And support for all the key storage protocols we see today on 10GbE and 40GbE will naturally extend to 100GbE and 400GbE.  Jim O’Reilly makes similar points in his recent Information Week article, “Ethernet: The New Storage Area Network where he argues, “Ethernet wins on schedule, cost, and performance.”

    Beyond raw transport speed, the rich Ethernet infrastructure offers techniques to catapult your performance even beyond the fastest single-pipe speed.  The Ethernet world has established techniques for what is alternately referred to as link aggregation, channel bonding, or teaming.  The levels available are determined by the capabilities provided in system software and what switch vendors will support.  And those capabilities, in turn, are determined by what they respectively see as market demand.  VMware, for example, today will let you bond eight 10GbE channels into a single 80GbE pipe.  And that’s today with mainstream 10GbE technology.

    Ethernet will continue to evolve in many different ways to support the needs of the industry.  Serving as a backbone for all storage networking traffic is just one of many such roles for Ethernet.  In fact, precisely because of the increasing breadth of usage models Ethernet supports, it will also continue to offer cost advantages.  The argument here is a very simple volume argument:

    Total Server-class Adapter and LOM Market Ports

    crehan-relentless-ethernet-420

    Enough said, except to also note that volume is what funds speed roadmaps.

     

     


    Ethernet is the right fit for the Software Defined Data Center

    August 12th, 2013

    “Software Defined” is a label being used to define advances in network and storage virtualization and promises to greatly improve infrastructure management and accelerate business agility. Network virtualization itself isn’t a new concept and has been around in various forms for some time (think vLANs). But, the commercialization of server virtualization seems to have paved the path to extend virtualization throughout the data center infrastructure, making the data center an IT environment delivering dynamic and even self-deployed services. The networking stack has been getting most of the recent buzz and I’ll focus on that portion of the infrastructure here.

    VirtualizationChangesWhat is driving this trend in data networking? As I mentioned, server virtualization has a lot to do with the new trend. Virtualizing applications makes a lot of things better, and makes some things more complicated. Server virtualization enables you to achieve much higher application density in your data center. Instead of a one-to-one relationship between the application and server, you can host tens of applications on the same physical server. This is great news for data centers that run into space limitations or for businesses looking for greater efficiency out of their existing hardware.

    YesteryearThe challenge, however, is that these applications aren’t stationary. They can move from one physical server to another. And this mobility can add complications for the networking guys. Networks must be aware of virtual machines in ways that they don’t have to be aware of physical servers. For network admins of yesteryear, their domain was a black box of “innies” and “outies”. Gone are the days of “set it and forget it” in terms of networking devices. Or is it?

    Software defined networks (aka SDN) promise to greatly simplify the network environment. By decoupling the control plane from the data plane, SDN allows administrators to treat a collection of networking devices as a single entity and can then use policies to configure and deploy networking resources more dynamically. Additionally, moving to a software defined infrastructure means that you can move control and management of physical devices to different applications within the infrastructure, which give you flexibility to launch and deploy virtual infrastructures in a more agile way.

    network virtualizationSoftware defined networks aren’t limited to a specific physical transport. The theory, and I believe implementation, will be universal in concept. However, the more that hardware can be deployed in a consistent manner, the greater flexibility for the enterprise. As server virtualization becomes the norm, servers hosting applications with mixed protocol needs (block and file) will be more common. In this scenario, Ethernet networks offer advantages, especially as software defined networks come to play. Following is a list of some of the benefits of Ethernet in a software defined network environment.

    Ubiquitous

    Ethernet is a very familiar technology and is present in almost every compute and mobile device in an enterprise. From IP telephony to mobile devices, Ethernet is a networking standard commonly deployed and as a result, is very cost effective. The number of devices and engineering resources focused on Ethernet drives the economics in favor of Ethernet.

    Compatibility

    Ethernet has been around for so long and has proven to “just work.” Interoperability is really a non-issue and this extends to inter-vendor interoperability. Some other networking technologies require same vendor components throughout the data path. Not the case with Ethernet. With the rare exception, you can mix and match switch and adapter devices within the same infrastructure. Obviously, best practices would suggest that at least a single vendor within the switch infrastructure would simplify the environment with a common set of management tools, features, and support plans. But, that might change with advances in SDN.

    Highly Scalable

    Ethernet is massively scalable. The use of routing technology allows for broad geographic networks. The recent adoption of IPv6 extends IP addressing way beyond what is conceivable at this point in time. As we enter the “internet of things” period in IT history, we will not lack for network scale. At least, in theory.

    Overlay Networks

    Overlay Networksallow you to extend L2 networks beyond traditional geographic boundaries. Two proposed standards are under review by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). These include Virtual eXtensible Local Area Networks (VXLAN) from VMware and Network Virtualization using Generic Routing Encapsulation (NVGRE) from Microsoft. Overlay networks combine L2 and L3 technologies to extend the L2 network beyond traditional geographic boundaries, as with hybrid clouds. You can think of overlay networks as essentially a generalization of a vLAN. Unlike with routing, overlay networks permit you to retain visibility and accessibility of your L2 network across larger geographies.

    Unified Protocol Access

    Ethernet has the ability to support mixed storage protocols, including iSCSI, FCoE, NFS, and CIFS/SMB. Support for mixed or unified environments can be more efficiently deployed using 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) and Data Center Bridging (required for FCoE traffic) as IP and FCoE traffic can share the same ports. 10GbE simplifies network deployment as the data center can be wired once and protocols can be reconfigured with software, rather than hardware changes.

    Virtualization

    Ethernet does very well in virtualized environments. IP address can easily be abstracted from physical ports to facilitate port mobility. As a result, networks built on an Ethernet infrastructure leveraging network virtualization can benefit from increased flexibility and uptime as hardware can be serviced or upgraded while applications are online.

    Roadmap

    For years, Ethernet has increased performance, but the transition from Gigabit Ethernet to 10 Gigabit Ethernet was a slow one. Delays in connector standards complicated matters. But, those days are over and the roadmap remains robust and product advances are accelerating. We are starting to see 40GbE devices on the market today, and will see 100GbE devices in the near future. As more and more data traffic is consolidated onto a shared infrastructure, these performance increases will provide the headroom for more efficient infrastructure deployments.

    Some of the benefits listed above can be found with other networking technologies. But, Ethernet technology offers a unique combination of technology and economic value across a broad ecosystem of vendors that make it an ideal infrastructure for next generation data centers. And as these data centers are designed more and more around application services, software will be the lead conversation. To enable the vision of a software defined infrastructure, there is no better network technology than Ethernet.


    10 Gigabit Ethernet – 2H12 Results and 2013 Outlook

    April 18th, 2013

    Seamus Crehan, President, Crehan Research Inc.

    2H12 results

    2012 turned out be another very strong growth year for 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE), with the data center switch market and the server-class adapter and LAN-on-Motherboard (LOM) market both growing more than 50%.  Broad long-term trends such as virtualization, convergence, data center network traffic growth, cloud deployments, and price declines were helped further by more specific demand drivers, many of which materialized in the latter half of 2012. These included the adoption of Romley servers, expanded 10GBASE-T product offerings for both switches and servers, 10GbE LOM solutions for volume rack servers (which drive the majority of server shipments), and the public cloud’s migration to 10GbE for mainstream server networking access. (The SNIA Ethernet Storage Forum wrote about many of these in its July 2012 whitepaper titled 10GbE Comes of Age).

    However, despite another stellar growth year, 10GbE still remained a minority of the overall data center and server shipment mix (see Figure 1).  

    Crehan figure 1

    Furthermore, its adoption hit some turbulence in the latter half of 2012, mostly related to the initial high prices and the learning curve associated with the new Modular LOM form-factor, resulting in some inventory issues.  Another drag on 2H12 10GbE growth was the lack of comprehensive 10GBASE-T offerings from many market participants. Although we saw a very significant step up in 10GBASE-T shipments in 2012, limited product offerings throughout much of 2012 capped its adoption at under less than 10% of total 10GbE shipments.

    But these 2H12 issues were more than offset by 10GbE entering its next major stage of volume server adoption during this time period.  Crehan Research reported a near-50% increase in 2H12 10GbE results as many public cloud, Web 2.0, and massively scalable data center companies deployed 10GbE servers and server-access data center switches. We believe this is the second of three major stages of mainstream 10GbE server adoption, the first of which was driven by blade servers. The third will be driven by the upgrade of the traditional enterprise segment’s large installed base of 1GbE rack and tower server ports to 10GbE.

    2013 expectations

    As we move through 2013, Crehan Research expects the following factors to have positive impacts on the 10GbE market, driving it closer to becoming the majority data center networking interconnect:

    Better pricing and understanding of Modular LOMs.  Initial pricing on 10GbE Modular LOMs has been relatively high, contributing to slower adoption and inventory issues.  In the past, end customers were given the higher-speed LOM for free for example, during the 1GbE and blade-server 10GbE transitions.  The Modular LOM is a new product form-factor, and it takes time for buyers and sellers to get comfortable with and fully understand it. During 2013, we should see lower pricing for this class of product, driving a higher server attach rate.

    Comprehensive 10GBASE-T product offerings. 2013 should finally bring complete 10GBASE-T product offerings from the major server and switch OEMs, helping drive stronger 10GBASE-T adoption and growth. More specifically, we should see more 10GBASE-T LOMs in addition to top-of-rack and end-of-row data center switches. Furthermore, we expect many of these products to be attractively priced, in order to entice the large installed base of 1GBASE-T customers to upgrade to 10GbE.

    Higher-speed uplink, aggregation, and core data center switches. Servers and server-access switches likely won’t see volume deployments to 10GbE without robust and cost-effective higher-speed uplink, aggregation, and core networking options. These have now begun to arrive with 40GbE, and we are starting to see a strong ramp for this technology. Crehan Research expects 2013 to bring the advent of many 40GbE data center switches, and foresees all of the major switch vendors rolling out offerings in 2013. In contrast with the early days of 10GbE, 40GbE prices are already close to parity on a bandwidth basis with 10GbE and have settled on a single interface form factor (QSFP), which should propel 40GbE data center switches to a much stronger start than that seen by 10GbE data center switches.

    Continued traction of 10GbE for storage applications. We expect that 2013 will see a continuation of the broader adoption of 10GbE as a storage protocol, in both the public cloud and traditional enterprise segments.  Although Fibre Channel remains a very important data center storage networking technology, Fibre Channel switch and Host Bus Adapter (HBA) shipments each declined slightly in 2012 and have seen flat compound annual growth rates over the past four years (see Figure 2). We expect this gradual Fibre Channel decline to continue in 2013 as more customers run Ethernet-based protocols such as NAS, iSCSI and FCoE, especially over 10GbE, for their storage needs and deployments.

    Crehan figure 2


    Ethernet Storage Forum – 2012 Year in Review and What to Expect in 2013

    December 20th, 2012

    As we come to a close of the year 2012, I want to share some of our successes and briefly highlight some new changes for 2013. Calendar year 2012 has been eventful and the SNIA-ESF has been busy. Here are some of our accomplishments:

    • 10GbE – With virtualization and network convergence, as well as the general availability of LOM and 10GBASE-T cabling, we saw this is a “breakout year” for 10GbE. In July, we published a comprehensive white paper titled “10GbE Comes of Age.” We then followed up with a Webcast “10GbE – Key Trends, Predictions and Drivers.” We ran this live once in the U.S. and once in the U.K. and combined, the Webcast has been viewed by over 400 people!
    • NFS – has also been a hot topic. In June we published a white paper “An Overview of NFSv4” highlighting the many improved features NFSv4 has over NFSv3. A Webcast to help users upgrade, “NFSv4 – Plan for a Smooth Migration,” has also been well received with over 150 viewers to date.  A 4-part Webcast series on NFS is now planned. We kicked the series off last month with “Reasons to Start Working with NFSv4 Now” and will continue on this topic during the early part of 2013. Our next NFS Webcast will be “Advances in NFS – NFSv4.1 and pNFS.” You can register for that here.
    • Flash – The availability of solid state devices based on NAND flash is changing the performance efficiencies of storage. Our September Webcast “Flash – Plan for the Disruption” discusses how Flash is driving the need for 10GbE and has already been viewed by more than 150 people.

    We have also added to expand membership and welcome new membership from Tonian and LSI to the ESF. We expect with this new charter to see an increase in membership participation as we drive incremental value and establish ourselves as a leadership voice for Ethernet Storage.

    As we move into 2013, we expect two hot trends to continue – the broader use of file protocols in datacenter applications, and the continued push toward datacenter consolidation with the use of Ethernet as a storage network. In order to better address these two trends, we have modified our charter for 2013. Our NFS SIG will be renamed the File Protocol SIG and will focus on promoting not only NFS, but also SMB / CIFS solutions and protocols. The iSCSI SIG will be renamed to the Storage over Ethernet SIG and will focus on promoting data center convergence topics with Ethernet networks, including the use of block and file protocols, such as NFS, SMB, FCoE, and iSCSI, over the same wire. This modified charter will allow us to have a richer conversation around storage trends relevant to your IT environment.

    So, here is to a successful 2012, and excitement for the coming year.


    10GbE Answers to Your Questions

    August 2nd, 2012

    Our recent Webcast: 10GbE – Key Trends, Drivers and Predictions was very well received and well attended. We thank everyone who was able to make the live event. For those of you who couldn’t make it, it’s now available on demand. Check it out here.

    There wasn’t enough time to respond to all of the questions during the Webcast, so we have consolidated answers to all of them in this blog post from the presentation team.  Feel free to comment and provide your input.

    Question: When implementing VDI (1000 to 5000 users) what are best practices for architecting the enterprise storage tier and avoid peak IOPS / Boot storm problems?  How can SSD cache be used to minimize that issue? 

     

    Answer: In the case of boot storms for VDI, one of the challenges is dealing with the individual images that must be loaded and accessed by remote clients at the same time. SSDs can help when deployed either at the host or at the storage layer. And when deduplication is enabled in these instances, then a single image can be loaded in either local or storage SSD cache and therefore it can be served the client much more rapidly. Additional best practices can include using cloning technologies to reduce the space taken up by each virtual desktop.

     

    Question: What are the considerations for 10GbE with LACP etherchannel?

     

    Answer: Link Aggregation Control Protocol (IEEE 802.1AX-2008) is speed agnostic.  No special consideration in required going to 10GbE.

     

    Question: From a percentage point of view what is the current adoption rate of 10G Ethernet in data Centers vs. adoption of 10G FCoE?

     

    Answer: As I mentioned on the webcast, we are at the early stages of adoption for FCoE.  But you can read about multiple successful deployments in case studies on the web sites of Cisco, Intel, and NetApp, to name a few.  The truth is no one knows how much FCoE is actually deployed today.  For example, Intel sells FCoE as a “free” feature of our 10GbE CNAs.  We really have no way of tracking who uses that feature.  FC SAN administrators are an extraordinarily conservative lot, and I think we all expect this to be a long transition.  But the economics of FCoE are compelling and will get even more compelling with 10GBASE-T.  And, as several analysts have noted, as 40GbE becomes more broadly deployed, the performance benefits of FCoE also become quite compelling.

     

    Question: What is the difference between DCBx Baseline 1.01 and IEEE DCBx 802.1 Qaz?

     

    Answer: There are 3 versions of DCBX
    - Pre-CEE (also called CIN)
    - CEE
    - 802.1Qaz

    There are differences in TLVs and the ways that they are encoded in all 3 versions.  Pre-CEE and CEE are quite similar in terms of the state machines.  With Qaz, the state machines are quite different — the
    notion of symmetric/asymmetric/informational parameters was introduced because of which the way parameters are passed changes.

     

    Question: I’m surprise you would suggest that only 1GBe is OK for VDI??  Do you mean just small campus implementations?  What about multi-location WAN for large enterprise if 1000 to 5000 desktop VMs?

     

    Answer: The reference to 1GbE in the context of VDI was to point out that enterprise applications will also rely on 1GbE in order to reach the desktop. 1GbE has sufficient bandwidth to address VoIP, VDI, etc… as each desktop connects to the central datacenter with 1GbE. We don’t see a use case for 10GbE on any desktop or laptop for the foreseeable future.

     

    Question: When making a strategic bet as a CIO/CTO in future (5-8 years plus) of my datacenter, storage network etc, is there any technical or biz case to keep FC and SAN?  Versus, making move to 10/40GbE path with SSD and FC?  This seems especially with move to Object Based storage and other things you talked about with Big Data and VM?  Seems I need to keep FC/SAN only if vendor with structured data apps requires block storage?

     

    Answer: An answer to this question really requires an understanding of the applications you run, the performance and QOS objectives, and what your future applications look like. 10GbE offers the bandwidth and feature set to address the majority of application requirements and is flexible enough to support both file and block protocols. If you have existing investment in FC and aren’t ready to eliminate it, you have options to transition to a 10GbE infrastructure with the use of FCoE. FCoE at its core is FCP, so you can connect your existing FC SAN into your new 10GbE infrastructure with CNAs and switches that support both FC and FCoE. This is one of the benefits of FCoE – it offers a great migration path from FC to Ethernet transports. And you don’t have to do it all at once. You can migrate your servers and edge switches and then migrate the rest of your infrastructure later.

     

    Question: Can I effectively emulate or out-perform SAN on FC, by building VLAN network storage architecture based on 10/40GBe, NAS, and use SSD Cache strategically.

     

    Answer: What we’ve seen, and you can see this yourself in the Yahoo case study posted on the Intel website, is that you can get to line rate with FCoE.  So 10GbE outperforms 8Gbps FC by about 15% in bandwidth.  FC is going to 16 Gbps, but Ethernet is going to 40Gbps.  So you should be able to increasingly outperform FC with FCoE — with or without SSDs.

     

    Question: If I have large legacy investment in FC and SAN, how do cost-effectively migrate to 10 or 40 GBe using NAS?  Does it only have to be greenfield opportunity? Is there better way to build a business case for 10GBe/NAS and what mix should the target architecture look like for large virtualized SAN vs. NAS storage network on IP?

     

    Answer: The combination of 10Gb converged network adapter (CNA) and a top of the rack (TOR) switch that supports both FCoE and native FC allows you to preserve connectivity to your existing FC SAN assets while taking advantage of putting in place a 10Gb access layer that can be used for storage and IP.  By using CNAs and DCB Ethernet switches for your storage and IP access you are also helping to reduce your CAPEX and OPEX (less equipment to buy and manage using a common infrastructure.  You get the added performance (throughput) benefit of 10G FCoE or iSCSI versus 4G or 8G Fibre Channel or 1GbE iSCSI.  For your 40GbE core switches so you have t greater scalability to address future growth in your data center.

     

    Question: If I want to build an Active-Active multi-Petabyte storage network over WAN with two datacenters 1000 miles apart to primarily support Big Data analytics,  why would I want to (..or not) do this over 10/40GBe / NAS vs.  FC on SAN?  Does SAN vs. NAS really enter into the issue?  If I got mostly file-based demand vs. block is there a tech or biz case to keep SAN ?

     

    Answer: You’re right, SAN or NAS doesn’t really enter into the issue for the WAN part; bandwidth does for the amount of Big Data that will need to be moved, and will be the key component in building active/active datacenters. (Note that at that distance, latency will be significant and unavoidable; applications will experience significant delay if they’re at site A and their data is at site B.)

     

    Inside the data center, the choice is driven by application protocols. If you’re primarily delivering file-based space, then a FC SAN is probably a luxury and the small amount of block-based demand can be delivered over iSCSI with equal performance. With a 40GbE backbone and 10GbE to application servers, there’s no downside to dropping your FC SAN.

     

    Question: Are you familiar with VMware and CISCO plans to introduce a Beat for virtualized GPU Appliance (aka think Nivdia hardware GPUs) for heavy duty 3D visualization apps on VDI?  No longer needing expensive 3D workstations like RISC based SGI desktops. If so, when dealing with these heavy duty apps what are your concerns for network and storage network?

     

    Answer: I’m afraid I’m not familiar with these plans.  But clearly moving graphics processing from the client to the server will add increasing load to the network.  It’s hard to be specific without a defined system architecture and workload.  However, I think the generic remarks Jason made about VDI and how NVM storage can help with peak loads like boot storms apply here as well, though you probably can’t use the trick of assuming multiple users will have a common image they’re trying to access.

     

    Question: How do I get a copy of your slides from today?  PDF?

     

    Answer: A PDF of the Webcast slides is available at the SNIA-ESF Website at: http://www.snia.org/sites/default/files/SNIA_ESF_10GbE_Webcast_Final_Slides.pdf

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


    10GbE Answers to Your Questions

    August 2nd, 2012

    Our recent Webcast: 10GbE – Key Trends, Drivers and Predictions was very well received and well attended. We thank everyone who was able to make the live event. For those of you who couldn’t make it, it’s now available on demand. Check it out here.

    There wasn’t enough time to respond to all of the questions during the Webcast, so we have consolidated answers to all of them in this blog post from the presentation team.  Feel free to comment and provide your input.

    Question: When implementing VDI (1000 to 5000 users) what are best practices for architecting the enterprise storage tier and avoid peak IOPS / Boot storm problems?  How can SSD cache be used to minimize that issue? 

    Answer: In the case of boot storms for VDI, one of the challenges is dealing with the individual images that must be loaded and accessed by remote clients at the same time. SSDs can help when deployed either at the host or at the storage layer. And when deduplication is enabled in these instances, then a single image can be loaded in either local or storage SSD cache and therefore it can be served the client much more rapidly. Additional best practices can include using cloning technologies to reduce the space taken up by each virtual desktop.

    Question: What are the considerations for 10GbE with LACP etherchannel?

    Answer: Link Aggregation Control Protocol (IEEE 802.1AX-2008) is speed agnostic.  No special consideration in required going to 10GbE.

    Question: From a percentage point of view what is the current adoption rate of 10G Ethernet in data Centers vs. adoption of 10G FCoE?

    Answer: As I mentioned on the webcast, we are at the early stages of adoption for FCoE.  But you can read about multiple successful deployments in case studies on the web sites of Cisco, Intel, and NetApp, to name a few.  The truth is no one knows how much FCoE is actually deployed today.  For example, Intel sells FCoE as a “free” feature of our 10GbE CNAs.  We really have no way of tracking who uses that feature.  FC SAN administrators are an extraordinarily conservative lot, and I think we all expect this to be a long transition.  But the economics of FCoE are compelling and will get even more compelling with 10GBASE-T.  And, as several analysts have noted, as 40GbE becomes more broadly deployed, the performance benefits of FCoE also become quite compelling.

    Question: What is the difference between DCBx Baseline 1.01 and IEEE DCBx 802.1 Qaz?

    Answer: There are 3 versions of DCBX
    - Pre-CEE (also called CIN)
    - CEE
    - 802.1Qaz

    There are differences in TLVs and the ways that they are encoded in all 3 versions.  Pre-CEE and CEE are quite similar in terms of the state machines.  With Qaz, the state machines are quite different — the
    notion of symmetric/asymmetric/informational parameters was introduced because of which the way parameters are passed changes.

    Question: I’m surprise you would suggest that only 1GBe is OK for VDI??  Do you mean just small campus implementations?  What about multi-location WAN for large enterprise if 1000 to 5000 desktop VMs?

    Answer: The reference to 1GbE in the context of VDI was to point out that enterprise applications will also rely on 1GbE in order to reach the desktop. 1GbE has sufficient bandwidth to address VoIP, VDI, etc… as each desktop connects to the central datacenter with 1GbE. We don’t see a use case for 10GbE on any desktop or laptop for the foreseeable future.

    Question: When making a strategic bet as a CIO/CTO in future (5-8 years plus) of my datacenter, storage network etc, is there any technical or biz case to keep FC and SAN?  Versus, making move to 10/40GbE path with SSD and FC?  This seems especially with move to Object Based storage and other things you talked about with Big Data and VM?  Seems I need to keep FC/SAN only if vendor with structured data apps requires block storage?

    Answer: An answer to this question really requires an understanding of the applications you run, the performance and QOS objectives, and what your future applications look like. 10GbE offers the bandwidth and feature set to address the majority of application requirements and is flexible enough to support both file and block protocols. If you have existing investment in FC and aren’t ready to eliminate it, you have options to transition to a 10GbE infrastructure with the use of FCoE. FCoE at its core is FCP, so you can connect your existing FC SAN into your new 10GbE infrastructure with CNAs and switches that support both FC and FCoE. This is one of the benefits of FCoE – it offers a great migration path from FC to Ethernet transports. And you don’t have to do it all at once. You can migrate your servers and edge switches and then migrate the rest of your infrastructure later.

    Question: Can I effectively emulate or out-perform SAN on FC, by building VLAN network storage architecture based on 10/40GBe, NAS, and use SSD Cache strategically.

    Answer: What we’ve seen, and you can see this yourself in the Yahoo case study posted on the Intel website, is that you can get to line rate with FCoE.  So 10GbE outperforms 8Gbps FC by about 15% in bandwidth.  FC is going to 16 Gbps, but Ethernet is going to 40Gbps.  So you should be able to increasingly outperform FC with FCoE — with or without SSDs.

    Question: If I have large legacy investment in FC and SAN, how do cost-effectively migrate to 10 or 40 GBe using NAS?  Does it only have to be greenfield opportunity? Is there better way to build a business case for 10GBe/NAS and what mix should the target architecture look like for large virtualized SAN vs. NAS storage network on IP?

    Answer: The combination of 10Gb converged network adapter (CNA) and a top of the rack (TOR) switch that supports both FCoE and native FC allows you to preserve connectivity to your existing FC SAN assets while taking advantage of putting in place a 10Gb access layer that can be used for storage and IP.  By using CNAs and DCB Ethernet switches for your storage and IP access you are also helping to reduce your CAPEX and OPEX (less equipment to buy and manage using a common infrastructure.  You get the added performance (throughput) benefit of 10G FCoE or iSCSI versus 4G or 8G Fibre Channel or 1GbE iSCSI.  For your 40GbE core switches so you have t greater scalability to address future growth in your data center.

    Question: If I want to build an Active-Active multi-Petabyte storage network over WAN with two datacenters 1000 miles apart to primarily support Big Data analytics,  why would I want to (..or not) do this over 10/40GBe / NAS vs.  FC on SAN?  Does SAN vs. NAS really enter into the issue?  If I got mostly file-based demand vs. block is there a tech or biz case to keep SAN ?

    Answer: You’re right, SAN or NAS doesn’t really enter into the issue for the WAN part; bandwidth does for the amount of Big Data that will need to be moved, and will be the key component in building active/active datacenters. (Note that at that distance, latency will be significant and unavoidable; applications will experience significant delay if they’re at site A and their data is at site B.)

    Inside the data center, the choice is driven by application protocols. If you’re primarily delivering file-based space, then a FC SAN is probably a luxury and the small amount of block-based demand can be delivered over iSCSI with equal performance. With a 40GbE backbone and 10GbE to application servers, there’s no downside to dropping your FC SAN.

    Question: Are you familiar with VMware and CISCO plans to introduce a Beat for virtualized GPU Appliance (aka think Nivdia hardware GPUs) for heavy duty 3D visualization apps on VDI?  No longer needing expensive 3D workstations like RISC based SGI desktops. If so, when dealing with these heavy duty apps what are your concerns for network and storage network?

    Answer: I’m afraid I’m not familiar with these plans.  But clearly moving graphics processing from the client to the server will add increasing load to the network.  It’s hard to be specific without a defined system architecture and workload.  However, I think the generic remarks Jason made about VDI and how NVM storage can help with peak loads like boot storms apply here as well, though you probably can’t use the trick of assuming multiple users will have a common image they’re trying to access.

    Question: How do I get a copy of your slides from today?  PDF?

    Answer: A PDF of the Webcast slides is available at the SNIA-ESF Website at: http://www.snia.org/sites/default/files/SNIA_ESF_10GbE_Webcast_Final_Slides.pdf 


    10GbE – Are You Ready?

    July 27th, 2012

    Is 10GbE coming of age? Many of us within the SNIA-ESF think so. We have co-authored a new and objective white paper on the subject, “10GbE – Comes of Age.” You can download it at http://snia.org/sites/default/files/10GbElookto40GbE_Final.pdf

    In this paper we dive deep into why we believe 2012 is the year for wide 10GbE adoption. There are numerous technical and economic justifications that will compel organizations to take advantage of the significant benefits 10GbE delivers. From virtualization and network convergence, to the general availability of LOM and 10GBASE-T there is no shortage of disruptive technologies converging to drive this protocol forward.

    This paper is the foundation for much of our activity for the rest of the year. Our 10GbE live Webcast a couple of weeks ago was very well received. In fact hundreds of people either attended the live event or have viewed it on demand. I encourage you to check it out at http://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/663/50385. We also have two more Webcasts scheduled, one on NFS in August and the other on Flash technology in September. Keep checking this blog for details.

    This paper is the result of a collaboration of industry leaders from Broadcom, Dell, Emulex, Intel, and  NetApp. We pride ourselves on keeping things “vendor-neutral.” If you’re in IT, we hope you find this cooperation refreshing. If you’re a vendor, we welcome your participation and urge you to consider joining SNIA and the ESF. Get more info on joining SNIA at http://www.snia.org/member_com/join


    Live Webcast: 10GbE – Key Trends, Drivers and Predictions

    July 12th, 2012

    The SNIA Ethernet Storage Forum (ESF) will be presenting a live Webcast on 10GbE on Thursday, July 19th.  Together with my SNIA colleagues, David Fair and Gary Gumanow, we’ll be discussing the technical and economic justifications that will likely make 2012 the “breakout year” for 10GbE.  We’ll cover the disruptive technologies moving this protocol forward and highlight the real-world benefits early adopters are seeing. I hope you will join us!

    The Webacast will begin at 8:00 a.m. PT/11:00 a.m. ET. Register Now: http://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/663/50385

    This event is live, so please come armed with your questions. We’ll answer as many as we can on the spot and include the full Q&A here in a SNIA ESF blog post.

    We look forward to seeing you on the 19th!


    Live Webcast: 10GbE – Key Trends, Drivers and Predictions

    July 12th, 2012

    The SNIA Ethernet Storage Forum (ESF) will be presenting a live Webcast on 10GbE on Thursday, July 19th.  Together with my SNIA colleagues, David Fair and Gary Gumanow, we’ll be discussing the technical and economic justifications that will likely make 2012 the “breakout year” for 10GbE.  We’ll cover the disruptive technologies moving this protocol forward and highlight the real-world benefits early adopters are seeing. I hope you will join us!

    The Webacast will begin at 8:00 a.m. PT/11:00 a.m. ET. Register Now: http://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/663/50385

    This event is live, so please come armed with your questions. We’ll answer as many as we can on the spot and include the full Q&A here in a SNIA ESF blog post.

    We look forward to seeing you on the 19th!