16 G Fibre Channel Heading to the Enterprise

Arthur Cole

The cloud is driving new levels of storage performance, which is proving to be a boon for native Fibre Channel installations following years of erosion by Ethernet-based protocols. The first trickle of 16 Gbps Fibre Channel is starting to hit the channel, with expectations that large enterprises and cloud service providers will flock to the technology in order to accommodate expected increases in storage traffic.


Brocade just released a portfolio of new 16 Gbps FC products, including the DCX 8510 SAN backbone that supports up to 384 ports for a max bandwidth of 8.2 Tbps. Also included is the SMB-targeted 6510 switch capable of 768 Gbps aggregate throughput. The company also hopes to target converged network environments through new management software and a new fabric server adapter and operating system.


Brocade is also lending its 16 Gbps acumen to EMC Corp., which will incorporate the technology into its newest Connectrix iteration. The company says that by doubling Fibre Channel bandwidth, enterprises will be able to accelerate cloud deployments even as they pursue converged fabric strategies that incorporate 10 GbE and higher protocols.


That kind of flat, fabric-based networking is likely to become more prevalent based on what is happening on the ASIC controller level. Emulex has begun sampling the new XE201 (Emulex Engine) device that enables concurrent native Fibre Channel and Ethernet operation. Designed for PCIe 3.0 deployments, the chips provide for a range of configurations including 16 Gbps FC, 10/40 GbE, as well as RDMA over Converged Enhanced Ethernet (RoCE), Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and iSCSI.


Although higher bandwidth is always welcome in data center environments, Emulex says the new controller is more about flexibility. Through tools like the vScale Workload-based performance and scalability engine and vPath virtual I/O support, the goal is to support increased VM densities and multi-client environment applications as well as improve overall network operations.


Now that the cloud has offered up virtually unlimited computing and storage resources to the enterprise, the action is shifting to the network in terms of heightening enterprise data performance. Higher bandwidth is certainly part of the equation, but so is increased flexibility and interoperability.



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