Brocade’s Gen 6 Fibre Channel meets the needs of a digital world

The network storage technology is very much alive, and a growth wave is coming to support digital enterprises

Brocade’s Gen 6 Fibre Channel meets the needs of a digital world

In the late 1800s, Mark Twain was rumored to have said, “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” If Mark Twain were a technology, he would be Fibre Channel.

It seems every year some smart industry prognosticator predicts that Ethernet will obviate the need for Fibre Channel, and it will go the way of the dinosaur or the mainframe. But that hasn’t been the case at all. In fact, Fibre Channel is still around and very much alive. Why? Because it’s the best, most cost-effective technology for storage networks. And for most organizations, storage is everything. 

The Fibre Channel fabric connects business applications and users to the mission-critical data that drives the company. This is why almost every large organization that is dependent on data, such as financial services firms, healthcare institutions and retailers, depend on Fibre Channel.

Wave of growth coming

Over the past few years the Fibre Channel market has been relatively flat with respect to growth, but I believe there’s another wave coming to support digital enterprises. In my EMC World wrap-up blog post, I discussed that digital transformation is driving data center modernization. A critical component of the modernized data center is flash storage.

In this increasingly digitized world, there is so much data growth that businesses are ramping up investments in the cloud as well as in on-premises data centers. And much of that data is now being stored on flash.

Add in IoT, analytics, rich media and mobility, and it should be obvious that the data center is becoming more important and needs increasing levels of scale, visibility and agility.

Brocade's Gen 6 Fibre Channel portfolio

This week Brocade announced its “Gen 6” Fibre Channel directors for faster, more reliable storage connectivity. The Gen 6 portfolio includes the following: 

  • X6 Director family. There are two sizes of directors: an 8-slot and 4-slot chassis. The new products can support up to 384 line rate 32-Gbps ports and up to 32 128-Gbps Ultrascale ICL connectivity ports for a total system bandwidth of 16 Tbps. The 32-Gbps speed shortens flash query time by 71 percent over 8-Gbps Fibre Channel and almost 50 percent over 16-Gbps Fibre Channel.

  • Brocade SX6 Extension blade. These blades enable the interconnection of multiple fabrics over distance using Fibre Channel, FICON and IP store replication. The blade offers high resiliency with 32-Gbps Fibre Channel and 1/10 Gig Ethernet IP storage over 1/10/40 Gig Ethernet IP WAN connections. This level of bandwidth offers excellent investment protection as data continues to grow.

  • Fabric Vision Technology with IO Insight. In many ways, the Brocade management suite is the “secret sauce” of its solutions. The speed increases of Gen 5 and Gen 6 stole the headlines, as everyone loves network speeds, but those releases were about much more than faster networks. One of the benefits that Ethernet has had over Fibre Channel is that far more instrumentation was built into it. Brocade’s Fabric Vision adds telemetry and visibility to Fibre Channel, making it significantly more manageable, reducing troubleshooting times and providing better insight into potential problems.

  • Fabric Vision with Virtual Machine Insight. This release of Vision includes end-to-end visibility into the storage performance of individual VMs. The solution uses standard-based VM tagging to monitor VM-level application performance problems in a Gen 6 SAN. This data can be used to set performance baselines and then identify anomalies to fine-tune the network.

The digital era requires organizations to become highly agile and be able to adapt to competitive threats. However, companies will only be as agile as the IT infrastructure that supports them. Flash will play a key role in enabling a modernized data center, as it provides storage infrastructure that can deliver data at unprecedented speeds. Brocade’s Gen 6 Fibre Channel fabric provides the right network to enable businesses to transform business operations and serve up data to workers and customers at digital speeds.

The Brocade X6 directors and SX6 extension blades are available now through Brocade and its channel partners. OEM distributers will ship products in the second half of 2016. The IO Insight management tool is available now, and VM Insight will be made available in the first half of 2017.

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