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How server and storage evolution is driving the need for Gen 5 Fibre Channel

StorageExpert on ‎03-25-2013 07:33 AM

By Rohan Viegas, Worldwide Product Management, HP Storage


Is your storage network ready for the next era?

Look around today—and you’ll see that emerging and evolving critical workloads plus higher-density virtualization are continuing to push the limits of SAN infrastructure. What’s more, thanks to new technologies such as solid-state drives (SSD), the focus is shifting from storage to interconnect. This trend is driving ever-higher I/O and bandwidth requirements, shortening the time horizon when speeds beyond 8 Gbps are needed.


This new Storage ChalkTalk from HPStorageGuy offers an overview of the HP StoreFabric B-series Fibre Channel Switch portfolio.


But you need more than just higher bandwidth to meet the growing requirements of your datacenters. Networks need to evolve in order to support these growing demands of highly virtualized environments and private cloud architectures. Today, Fibre Channel is the de facto standard for storage networking in the data center. HP StoreFabric takes Fibre Channel to a whole new level with the introduction of the HP StoreFabric SN6500B 16Gb Fibre Channel Switchthe latest product in our 16Gbps switch family that offers Gen 5 Fibre Channel features and benefits.


What is Gen 5 Fibre Channel?

Gen 5 Fibre Channel is more than just 16Gbps speeds. It unleashes the full potential of high-density server virtualization, cloud architectures, and next-generation storage. It offers a purpose-built, data center-proven network infrastructure for storage. And it delivers unmatched performance, reliability and simplicity. This next generation of SAN infrastructure technology also includes improved performance, flexibility, management and efficiency features. Designed to complement cloud and high-density virtual machine (VM) deployments, Gen 5 Fibre Channel can help you meet the needs of an evolving storage environment.


Check out this new ChalkTalk from HPStorageGuy the delves deeper into what's new with the HP StoreFabric B-series switch family, focusing on Gen 5 Fibre Channel and the new products in the family.


 What is driving the need for Gen 5 Fibre Channel?

Take a look at the key factors at play across your infrastructure:


  • Server virtualization – WhenFibre Channel was first launched, a server was dedicated to a specific application, resulting in low utilization of server resources. The introduction of server virtualization changed that paradigm, allowing multiple applications to share a single physical server, increasing efficiency and driving up server utilization rates. According to ESG’s annual IT spending intentions survey, increased use of server virtualization has been the top overall priority for more than two years running.Today, evolving critical workloads and Tier 1 applications are being hosted on virtual machines (VMs). VMs hosted on each physical server, are steadily increasing to 10, 20 or more VMs per physical serve – all booting from the SAN and accessing SAN resources. The increased usage, criticality and density of VMs drive demand for higher performance (bandwidth and I/O) as well as increased reliability and availability from the storage infrastructure. In highly virtualized environments, any congestion, poor I/O performance, or failures in the storage network will impact a larger number of applications, some of which may be critical.
  • Application growth – What’s driving the big growth in your computing environments? It’s the increasing size and number of software applications. The digitization of information, growing use of rich media and interactive Web 2.0 applications drive greater storage capacity and bandwidth requirements. From mobile access to email to cloud computing, data needs to be transported over longer distances at high speeds. In addition, applications such as databases and other mission-critical applications are growing rapidly, while continuing to require non-stop availability. Any performance issues or downtime impacting data access is simply not acceptable. The storage network must be prepared to handle increased capacity, greater throughput and higher levels of resiliency. 
  • Flash and solid-state drives – Flash-based storage and SSDs are triggering incredible advances in storage, dramatically reducing the historical I/O performance gap between the server side (with multi-core processors and faster memory) and the storage side. SSD storage addresses both I/O and throughput bottlenecks, enabling faster blockandfile-based storage performance for high density virtualized workloads and traditional mission-critical applications. But that assumes that the storage network can keep pace. Whether deployed as stand-alone SSD-based arrays or directly connected to the server CPU and memory bus, SSDs accelerate I/O performance, driving the need for higher bandwidth and greater availability from the storage network.
  • 16 Gbps Fibre Channel Storage arrays – Watch for new 16 Gbps-capable Fibre Channel Storage arrays from leading storage providers announcing in the near future. To take full advantage of the capabilities offered by this next generation of storage arrays, you need to make sure that the network is not a bottleneck. Data center managers looking to deploy new 16 Gbps Fibre Channel Storage arrays to gain a competitive advantage need to take a close look at their storage network infrastructure to determine whether it’s capable of delivering the reliability, performance, and operational efficiency the new technology requires. If not, the bottleneck must be addressed with upgraded infrastructure to gain the benefits you seek.


Perfect timing: HP StoreFabric and Gen 5 Fibre Channel (16 Gbps)

These and other data center evolutions are driving the need for Gen 5 Fibre Channel infrastructures. HP StoreFabric 16Gb Fibre Channel Switches deliver many unique capabilities to meet these evolving requirements:


  • Low-latency and high-IOPS performance maximizes the number of virtual hosts per physical server.
  • Data center-proven architectures reduce risk and fault domains of high-density server virtualization.
  • Unique Inter-Chassis Links (ICLs) enable higher density and simpler fabrics that reduce network complexity and cost.
  • Nonstop networking and automated management minimize operational cost and complexity.
  • Integrated advanced diagnostics, monitoring and RAS capabilities simplify management and increase resiliency.
  • Diagnostic ports (D_Ports) identify and isolate optics and cable problems, reducing deployment and diagnostic times.
  • Integrated ISL data compression and encryption provide bandwidth optimization and data protection.
  • Backward compatibility with existing infrastructure eliminates the need to rip out and replace.
  • Low overhead and low latency eliminate I/O bottlenecks and unleash the full performance of Flash, SSD and 16 Gbps storage.



Want to read more about Gen 5 Fibre Channel?


Product details

HP StoreFabric switches



HP Storage Solution: HP 3PAR StorServ & Storage Networking

HP Intelligent Infrastructure Analyzer Software






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Our team of Hewlett Packard Enterprise storage experts helps you to dive deep into relevant infrastructure topics.

on ‎03-25-2013 08:45 AM

Rohan and Calvin, great work on the blog and ChalkTalks. Gen 5 Fibre Channel is alive an well at HP!

on ‎03-26-2013 05:12 PM



With the introduction of the HP StoreFabric SN6500B 16Gb Fibre Channel Switch, HP now has one of the broadest Gen 5 (16Gb) FC SAN switch portfolios in the industry - from entry level switches to enterprise class director switches and everything in between.


Gen 5 (16Gb) Fibre Channel is definitely alive and kicking at HP !

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