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HPE StoreFabric Gen6 32Gb Fibre Channel: An Early Data Storage Christmas Gift



New HPE StoreFabric Gen6 32Gb Fibre Channel infrastructure brings three modern Gifts of the Magi: breakthrough performance, simplified management and investment protection for both current SAS and next-StoreFabric_gifts_blog.jpggeneration NVMe over Fabrics storage. 

For the past eight years, while storage networking infrastructure has been chugging along, server core densities have increased, all-flash and hybrid flash storage arrays have exploded in popularity and hypervisors (ESXi from VMware and Hyper-V from Microsoft) have achieved “industrial strength."

The launch of HPE StoreFabric Gen 6 32Gb Fibre channel switches and Host Bus Adapters (HBAs) will bring much cheer to enterprise storage professionals. A pre-Christmas event, this new infrastructure offers storage administrators three “gifts” of HPE StoreFabric capabilities, and an opportunity to leapfrog over four-year old 16Gb Fibre Channel (FC) technology to the latest FC networking has to offer.

First: the launch details

HPE launched, for GA, the StoreFabric SN6600B Gen 6 32Gb FC switch and the SN1600E/SN1600Q Gen 6 32Gb FC HBA along with a new SN1200E 16Gb FC HBA. The SN6600B switch works at both 32Gb and 16Gb with interchangeable optics modules.

Next: overcoming some of the “classic” objections

Any Fibre Channel discussion (green field or upgrade) often revolves around at least three objections from well intentioned (but partially informed) customers. The objections are some variant of the following:

  1. “Happy with 8Gb. I don’t need the bandwidth/IOPS/performance.”
  2. “Fibre Channel deployments are complicated.”
  3. “Fibre channel is old/obsolete/dying. It has no future.”

So about these objections…

The new generation of 32Gb FC HPE StoreFabric infrastructure will deliver breakthrough performance that impacts our customers’ workloads to drive better business outcomes.

First the speeds and feeds – the need for higher performance

Organizations with modern server and storage infrastructure need high performance networking to realize the full benefits of flash-based architectures drive better business outcomes and reduce total cost of ownership.

The new SN6600B switch boasts 1 billion (yes, that’s a billion with a “B”) IOPS capability and up to 71% lower latency, even at 8Gb operation. Coupled with up to 1.6 million IOPS on a single port from the HPE SN1600E’s Dynamic Multi Core architecture (from HPE Partner Emulex/Broadcom), performance is virtually guaranteed.

In addition, with a 33% higher port density and the 75% reduction in cabling from QSFP optics, the SN6600 a delivers a lower total cost of ownership.

Workload acceleration driving better business outcomes

Workload testing on HPE ProLiant Gen9 servers by Broadcom (Emulex) using 32Gb FC infrastructure is eloquently captured in a single picture below:

StoreFabric overviewJ.jpg

Workload performance with HPE ProLiant Gen9 servers and Gen 6 32GFC Fibre Channel (Courtesy Broadcom)

In each instance, the elapsed time for a range of application workloads was demonstrably lower with 32GFC infrastructure, enabling fulfillment of more demanding SLAs and better business outcomes.

Now let’s address Fibre Channel deployment complexity

Fibre Channel networks, rightly or wrongly, have a reputation for complexity. It’s worth asking: when was the last time you tried to manage VLANs, ACLs and DCB configurations for a lossless and secure IP-based Ethernet storage network?

In any case, we have developed exclusive HPE Smart SAN for 3PAR software technology that makes Fibre Channel SAN deployments a breeze by collecting FC intelligence from the SAN to significantly automate tedious SAN zoning.

An end-to-end solution orchestrated and automated via the HPE 3PAR CLI, Smart SAN technology is supported (embedded in the firmware) by all the solution elements (array, HBAs, switches). The major benefit for storage administrators is a reduction of SAN zones plus the simplification of SAN zoning from hours to minutes.

Key benefits of Smart SAN technology include:

  • Centralized and automated target driven peer zoning (TDPZ) simplifies the zoning process
  • 3PAR array gathers intelligence from all elements in the SAN (hosts, switches and array) for an orchestrated solution across the SAN
  • Easy troubleshooting from a single point in the fabric
  • A diagnostic-ready fabric

But isn’t Fibre Channel “yesterday’s technology”?

Contrary to popular misperceptions, Fibre Channel continues to be the dominant enterprise storage protocol across the IT planning horizon.  According to industry analyst firm IDC*, it enjoys the largest installed base capacity today and is forecast to remain the most widely deployed storage technology in 2019 when compared with Direct Attached Storage and NAS File Storage.

More exciting is the future of Fibre Channel. Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) is the next generation technology that will further reduce flash storage latencies and enhance workload performance.

You might want to read this blog on NVMe technology – and now even more exciting is the NVMe investment protection built into the new HPE StoreFabric infrastructure. This is an interesting topic for an entire blog post, and it suffices to state that this infrastructure is “NVMe enabled” from day of launch. Once the ecosystem matures to support NVMe over Fibre Channel, the switch infrastructure will be NVMe enabled without further change, while the HPE SN1200E/SN1600E HBAs, also NVMe enabled, will be NVMe ready with a driver and firmware update.

Cheerful takeaways of the season

Christmas has been associated with the three gifts of the Magi: frankincense, myrrh and gold. The new HPE StoreFabric family of products deliver their own gifts – when viewed from the traditional perspective of storage performance, bandwidth, IOPS and data speed, or from a slightly different perspective of workload performance, management simplicity and investment protection. Maybe there is a Christmas Fibre Channel infrastructure refresh in your data center planning.

Get the HPE Smart SAN basics

Listen to this new podcast from Calvin Zito: What is HPE Smart SAN? ATSB Podcast 216

To subscribe to the podcast, open this link and click on the "View in iTunes" button. If you don't use iTunes, you can find the podcast on

More on the topic: Flash Forward with the HPE StoreFabric Gen 6 32Gb SAN Portfolio

  *IDC Nov’15 WW Enterprise Storage Forecast, IDC# US4056715


Meet Around the Storage Block blogger Prabhu Punniamurthy, HPE StoreFabric.





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