FibreChannel dead? Nonsense, says Brocade, here's our Gen 6 kit

Eyes NVME, flash farms with 128 Gbps-capable ports

Brocade's having none of this FibreChannel doomsaying, with the launch of its FibreChannel Gen 6 director family.

The launch comprises the Brocade X6 Director, SX6 Extension Blade, and for monitoring, two new enhancements to its Fabric Vision.

The X6 Director has 384 ports running at 32 Gbps, and supports aggregation of those ports to run 32 x 128 Gbps, for a total switch bandwidth of 16 Tps.

The SX6 extension blade is for longer-distance replication between X6 Directors, offering 80 Gbps application throughput and support for 32 Gbps FibreChannel or up to 10 Gbps Ethernet storage replication.

In spite of the attention given to Ethernet (and, in HPC environments, InfiniBand), Brocade's ANZ Systems Engineering manager Phil Coates told Vulture South the company still sees significant workloads on FibreChannel.

It's about latency, he said, especially to support new and emerging storage technologies.

Gen 6, he said, was developed with workloads like NVME (non-volatile memory extensions) in mind: “We can provide working memory extensions on our fabric technology to create a big memory farm,” he said.

That means users can “start doing data analytics far beyond traditional server memory”.

The low latency (Gen 6 claims as much as 70 per cent better latency than its predecessor) also suits big flash storage farms, Coates said.

It's latency rather than just channel capacity that Brocade will be using to pitch the Gen 6 upgrade to existing customers – they might not have filled up their existing 16 Gbps pipes, but still want better bang-for-buck out of a farm of flash drives.

And while InfiniBand beats Ethernet in the latency stakes, Brocade believes FibreChannel has “had wider acceptance” than the “proprietary and segmented” InfiniBand market.

That acceptance also means there are more management tools for FibreChannel, which brings us to the Fabric Vision releases that accompany the director products: IO Insight, and VM Insight.

IO Insight provides a sensor to monitor storage IO performance, while VM Insight does the same for virtual machines.

Coates said IO Insight provides “analysis of storage-type devices, to track application or storage metrics”, something that gives sysadmins “the baseline and diagnostics [to show] the SLAs of the application are being met.”

VM Insight uses VM tagging to “track, measure, and diagnose” application traffic between individual virtual machines and the storage server. ®

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