Around the Storage Block

Better, faster and smarter data center fabrics for high performance workloads (Part 1)

The HPE M-series Ethernet Switches introduces the first true Ethernet Storage Fabric (ESF), with technology and features to support block, file, and object storage, thereby allowing customers to build a converged network capable of simultaneously handling compute and storage traffic. Not only are the M-series Ethernet switches specifically optimized for storage, but they also provide better value than traditional Storage Networking Switches. Simply put, faster storage requires faster networks and the M-series delivers just that.

Whether or not you are supporting high performance workloads in your data center today – such as AI/ML – most modern data centers are highly virtualized and running on solid-state storage. The adaption of Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) storage is slated to further push performance standards. For both fast NVMe storage and all computational inferencing workloads, predictable and reliable data delivery depends on fast and accurate data delivery. This starts at the high performance network.

Figure 1: Better, faster & smarter Data Center Fabrics are a prerequisite for high performance workloadsFigure 1: Better, faster & smarter Data Center Fabrics are a prerequisite for high performance workloads

Rapid improvement of data center computing and low-latency storage solutions have transferred data center performance bottlenecks to the network. 10GbE based legacy networks only create delays, and will become a major constraint in network performance. Therefore, today’s data centers should be designed to handle this anticipated bandwidth with a low latency, lossless Ethernet fabric. Beyond the performance advantages, the economic benefits of running NVMe and AI workloads over Ethernet are substantial. 

Ethernet Storage Fabrics

The need for high-performance storage networking is being fueled by rapid deployments of multi-core servers densely packed with virtual machines, and a move to all-flash storage arrays capable of blazing speeds. Communication between virtualized servers and ultra-low latency flash-based storage is a challenge for legacy IP and Fibre Channel switching architectures.

The result? Increasing demand for an efficient, reliable, storage-aware, high-performance storage network connecting servers and storage. Recent innovations in Ethernet switches are addressing these demands—and keeping pace with new storage trends such as the growing adoption of cloud and object storage.

Ethernet storage fabric (ESF) leverages the speed, flexibility, and cost efficiencies of Ethernet, along with the best switching hardware and software packaged in ideal form factors to provide performance, scalability, intelligence, high availability, and simplified management. ESF provides the foundation for the fastest and most efficient way of networking storage.

ESF is optimized for scale-out storage and HCI environments because it is designed to handle bursty storage traffic, route data with low latencies, provide predictable performance to maximize data delivery and allow for simplified scale-out storage architectures, and support storage aware services. These are all crucial attributes for today’s business-critical storage environments. In particular, the switches must support new, faster speeds including 25, 100, and 200/400GbE. They must have an intelligent buffer design that ensures fast, fair, consistent networking performance using any combination of ports, port speeds, and packet size.

HPE M-series Ethernet Switch Family

HPE M-Series Ethernet switches offer a very compelling argument for why it may be the best and most efficient networking solution for high-performance workloads. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), data analytics (DA) and other demanding data-driven workloads mandate amazing computational capabilities from servers and the network. Today’s screaming fast multi-core processors provide a solution by accelerating computational processing. Consequently, all this places a huge demand on the network infrastructure.

Let’s walk through a checklist of what makes the M-Series Ethernet switch family the best networking solution for any high-performance workload.—And, you’ll see why the M-Series is poised to be a great platform for moving AI/ML data sets.

  • Ideal Form-Factor. Compact half-width 25GBE & 100GbE switches. Ideal form-factor for entry level environments and edge computing.
  • Highest bandwidth. 25 and 100Gb Ethernet speeds and upcoming 200/400GbE
  • ZERO packet loss. Ensured reliable and predictable performance
  • Highest efficiency. Built-in accelerators for storage, virtualized, and containerized environments
  • Lowest latency. Ultra-low-latency, true cut-through latency
  • Dynamically shared, flexible buffering. Excellent flexibility to dynamically adapt and absorb micro-bursts and avoid congestion
  • Advanced load balancing. Improved scale and availability
  • Predictable performance. High switching capacity offers wire-speed performance
  • Low cost. Superior value

HPE M-series switch family can provide connectivity for primary, secondary, hyperconverged, NAS, and object storage, as well as highly efficient AI/ML workloads needing a high-performance and ultra-low-latency network.

Figure 2: HPE M-series Ethernet switch family offers ideal form-factor and performance for almost any data center deploymentFigure 2: HPE M-series Ethernet switch family offers ideal form-factor and performance for almost any data center deployment

Storage intelligence and management

The HPE M-series family has features specific to optimizing current and future storage networking, including RDMA. These include support for DCB, including DCBX, enhanced transmission specification (ETS), and PFC. It also includes support for ECN, which can be used for RoCE as well. Congestion notifications are sent out more quickly with HPE M-series switches than with other switches, resulting in faster response times from endpoints in the network and smoother RoCE traffic flows.

The HPE M-series switches have strong telemetry features for monitoring throughput, latency, and traffic levels on every port. The “HPE Network Orchestrator” and “What Just Happened” makes it easy to configure, monitor, and update many switches from a central management point, using an intuitive GUI.

  • Network provisioning automation. Includes zero-touch and one-click provisioning
  • Configuration management. Deploys, backs up, and restores switch configurations
  • Software management. Automates software updates of the HPE M-series switches
  • Task management. Offers task scripting, scheduling, and automation
  • Network visibility. Provides in-depth visibility into network health, traffic, and performance
  • Third-party integrations. Integrates with storage, cloud, and application management tools

Leverage Ethernet storage benefits to deliver higher data throughput, boost efficiency and lower TCO

HPE M-series Ethernet switch family offers industry-leading, high-bandwidth and the lowest-latency for a cost effective solution to connect primary, secondary, hyperconverged, NAS, or object storage systems. With cost-effective options such as pay-as-you-grow licensing, seamless speed transition from 1GbE to 100GbE and support for next-generation storage such as software-defined, scale-out, distributed, and NVMe, ensure your M-series fabrics allows for implementing significant speed and architecture upgrades over time.

For more information, please see our new technical white paper, “Enabling high-performance Ethernet storage connectivity With HPE’s StoreFabric M-series Storage-Optimized Ethernet Switches”. PLUS - This new infographic provides a snapshot of the features and benefits of our industry-leading, high-bandwidth optimized Ethernet switches for a cost-effective solution to connect your Primary, Secondary, Hyperconverged, NAS, or Object storage systems.

Look for Parts 2 and 3 of this series in the coming months.

Headshot Faisal_400x400.jpgMeet Around the Storage Block blogger Faisal Hanif, Product Management, HPE Storage and Big Data. Faisal is part of HPE’s Storage & Big Data business group leading Product Management & Marketing for next generation products and solutions for storage connectivity, network automation & orchestration.

Follow Faisal on Twitter @ffhanif 


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