Cisco Extends SAN’s Reach into the Data Center

Mike Vizard
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For a while, the general assumption was that Ethernet would supplant all things Fibre Channel in the data center. But the rise of cloud computing and virtualization has created demand for more storage bandwidth than ever.

Rising to the challenge, Cisco this week made additions to its storage area network (SAN) lineup that not only provide 16G of bandwidth, but are also much simpler to manage by both automating the provisioning process and providing tools for detecting network congestion and recovery logic that helps ensure application performance requirements are continuously met.

Nitin Garg, senior manager for product management in the data center switching group at Cisco, says it is now much simpler to provision the Cisco MDS 9148S 16G Fabric Switch, the Cisco MDS 9706 Storage Director, and the Cisco MDS 9700 FCoE Module for multi-protocol networking fabrics.

Garg says the MDS series is also now more affordable with price points, depending on the number of ports required, anywhere from $7,000 to $12,000 lower than comparable Fibre Channel products from Brocade.

Built on top of a Cisco Storage Networking ASIC processor, Cisco has used the MDS series as a complement to the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) to extend its reach into the data center. While the Cisco MDS 9148s support Fibre Channel directly, Garg says the Cisco MDS 9700 module enables Cisco MDS series products to be plugged into an Ethernet environment as well.

Given the rate at which demand for high-performance storage is growing, both Ethernet and Fibre Channel storage technologies are going to be used inside data centers for a long time to come. The real challenge going forward will be finding a way to make it easier for IT organizations to find ways to manage different classes of storage at scale in a way that doesn’t require them to throw countless storage administrators at the problem.

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