Implementing 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel Technology
Moving to 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel; the benefits and killer applications that will benefit from this newest interconnect technology
Since the 2001 introduction of 2 Gigabit per second (Gb/s) Fibre Channel (FC) technology, engineers have been working on the next generation of Fibre Channel interconnection ?ª 4 Gb/s. The new technology is now available, thoroughly tested and offered to enterprise customers from a number of the world??s leading storage vendors.
Industry??s fIrst 4 Gb/s fIbre Channel storaGe system
4 Gb/s Fibre Channel systems are ideally suited for applications that needed to quickly transfer large amounts of data ?ª such as remote replication across a SAN, database in memory; streaming video on demand; medical imaging; data mining and data warehousing; and large databases supporting online transaction processing (OLTP). Additionally, large increases in online data, such as driven by radio frequency identification (RFID) applications, will leverage the benefits of 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel technology. Why buy 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel technology? The benefits of 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel technology include faster communication between servers and storage devices, the ability to more rapidly transfer data from storage to server or restore data from online backup media; higher reliability due to a reduced number of connections; and complete investment protection due to backward compatibility with 1 Gb/s and 2 Gb/s components ?ª providing customers with state-of-theart interconnection technology at the same price and cost of ownership as current 2 Gb/s systems.
The information explosion continues to drive the need for higher-performance communication. Performance improvements in processors, workstations and storage devices, along with the exponential growth in the amount of data being gathered and created,
have spawned increasingly data-intensive and high-speed networking applications. 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel enables faster communication between servers and storage devices at the same prices as today??s 2 Gb/s Fibre Channel, enabling IT administrators to effectively meet the relentless needs of applications and end users.
the SAN??s bandwidth. 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel provides these environments with a highbandwidth infrastructure ideally suited for campus area replication. 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel enables data to be transferred from one system at twice the speed of 2 Gb/s Fibre Channel. If data needs to be restored from the remote site, the primary site will be back online in as little as half the time it takes with 2 Gb/s Fibre Channel.
Recovery is more important than backup, and the time it takes to recover is becoming more important every day. Systems based on 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel technology deliver the high bandwidth performance required to enable shorter recovery time and higher productivity.
d ata wa r e h o u s I n G
Data warehousing presents a unique challenge for storage systems because both high bandwidth and high random I/O performance are required for effective solutions. The balanced performance of systems based on 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel technology meet this challenge. They offer the highest levels of performance in both the bandwidth and IOPS dimensions, delivering the information that data warehouse users need when they need it.
4 Gb/s Fibre Channel is ideal for world-class broadcasting and rich media storage networks. Large block, sequential I/O applications that include content creation and delivery, modeling, rendering, and publishing, will benefit from the additional bandwidth that 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel provides.
l a r G e d ata a n a lys I s
As the concept of storage tiers becomes more prevalent and implementations become more common, data will need to be routinely migrated from primary storage to secondary storage across the storage network. Depending on the amount of data being relocated, this can be a time-consuming and costly process that can put a tremendous strain on the storage network and potentially disrupt access to the data during the migration. 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel provides a massive pipe through the SAN that allows data to be quickly moved from one storage system to another - enabling this bandwidth-intensive transfer to happen at twice the speed of 2 Gb/s Fibre Channel.
C a m p u s a r e a r e p l I C at I o n
With a 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel storage network, companies can accelerate and scale simulation, visualization, modeling and rendering applications simply and easily to:
According to a 2003 IDC report, 2 Gb/s Fibre Channel accounted for only six percent of the market in 2001, but by the end of 2002 2 Gb/s represented 70 percent of the market. IDC also predicted that by December 2003, 1 Gb/s technology would no longer be sold. The transition from 1 Gb/s to 2 Gb/s was simple and fast because it offered backward compatibility, no infrastructure change, and pricing was equal. The adoption of 4 Gb/s technology will follow a similar pattern, and offer backward compatibility, no infrastructure changes, and equal pricing. Since the industry has made this type of transition before, the transition to 4 Gb/s is expected to be even faster. Four Gigabit per second Fibre Channel should be the dominant host interconnection for storage systems by December 2006.
Tremendously accelerate large dataset I/O rates; Painlessly and cost-effectively scale; Share information across the organization for the highest level of collaboration; Enable shared file systems, via third parties, to scale to levels of performance previously unreachable; Simplify data management and consolidation to allow managing up to 90 terabytes, behind a single pair of controllers, with a single system administrator.
While wide area network (WAN) replication provides unequalled protection against regional disasters, campus area replication can be just as beneficial. When replicating across the high-speed SAN, data can be mirrored synchronously, ensuring the remote site has the exact same data as the local site at all times. The data at the remote site can then be used for a variety of reasons, such as data restoration, mining, analysis, testing and backup. Synchronizing and resynchronizing the local and remote sites can be a lengthy process that monopolizes a large portion of
d ata b a s e I n m e m o ry
Customers running this emerging application need to have very large datasets in memory. Loading or refreshing these from disks becomes a time-critical effort. Large Linux clusters are an example of this type of computing complex, where loading as much as 12 TB of memory from disk storage in less than seven minutes can be the requirement. Four Gb/s storage systems can be used effectively for this demanding
application as data can be loaded fro the storage to the server in half the time compared to 2 Gb/s Fibre Channel.
Deciding when to upgrade your infrastructure involves many factors. Customers need to evaluate if their current IT environment is stable, performing adequately and if growth has stabilized. If the answer to these questions
Implementing 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel Technology
is yes, then an infrastructure upgrade is probably not needed immediately. However, those customers who answered ??no?? will probably want to consider 4 Gb/s technology when determining if the current rate of growth will overtake the current infrastructure, if new applications and solutions require higher performance levels and if bottlenecks in the current storage environment are preventing realization storage network potential. Customers must also evaluate future purchases of host bus adapters (HBAs), servers, and storage devices in the SAN that will inevitably be based on 4 Gb/s technology. While these offerings will most likely be backwards compatible, in order for the SAN infrastructure to meet its full potential and optimize performance, the full data path should be based on 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel technology. Once the decision to upgrade has been made, the transition can take place quickly. Products are already being released based on 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel and as storage products continue to evolve, they will be designed based on 4 Gb/s standards. Storage vendors know that customers rarely replace their entire infrastructure at once. As a result, 4 Gb/s will be introduced into customer environments in phases until 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel has a larger presence in the storage network than 2 Gb/s.
A few years ago, products were rotated out of production every three years. Today, companies are extending the life of these products to four years or more. This means that products purchased in 2005 will still be in production when 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel is the norm. Does it make sense to purchase a new product that will be ??outdated?? before its production life is up? Purchasing a product based on 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel technology provides the best of both worlds. 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel??s backwards compatibility enables it to be seamlessly integrated into existing 1 Gb/s and 2 Gb/s infrastructures. This allows users to immediately benefit from any improved functionality in their new 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel products, provides them with investment protection of their current environments, and provides future protection when their infrastructure eventually makes the transition to 4 Gb/s. The value proposition for end-users is simple ?ª equal cost; twice the throughput; investment protection; and less SAN
infrastructure (fewer switches with fewer ports, fewer host bus adapters) increases SAN reliability, availability and serviceability (RAS).
Industry analysts, customers and manufacturers all agree that by the end of 2006, 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel technology will be widely adopted by organizations around the world. Four Gb/s Fibre Channel is fully backwards compatible, provides customers with state-of-the-art interconnection technology at the same price and cost of ownership as current 2 Gb/s systems. Four Gb/s technology will benefit companies that run a variety of applications including scientific research, data warehousing and analysis, video on demand, and large databases. Customers considering new storage components, expanding or upgrading their current 2 Gb/s infrastructure, experiencing relentless growth, or demanding the highest levels of performance, should carefully evaluate new 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel technology.
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