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Cisco Announces New Storage Networking Innovations for the Agile Data Center

by Lyle Smith

Cisco has announced a series of new storage networking advances spanning the company’s MDS and Nexus portfolios that focus on helping customers design efficient IT operations and easily adapt to changing business needs. Included in these new innovations are: the new Cisco MDS 9396S Fabric Switch, which is a 96-port high-density 16G fabric switch that allows the deployment of shared storage, common backup and business continuity solutions for SMB and enterprise customers in a small footprint while still leaving room for future growth; 40 Gigabit Converged Ethernet support across Nexus 7700 and Nexus 7000 platforms, which gives customers the flexibility to deploy 40 Gigabit FCoE, NAS, iSCSI, IP-based object storage, and LAN connectivity on a single platform; and support for the highest performance 16G FICON capabilities in the industry on Cisco’s existing MDS 9700 and 9250i platforms, all the while supporting FICON Distance Extension using 10G FCIP and specialized acceleration technologies.


Cisco has announced a series of new storage networking advances spanning the company’s MDS and Nexus portfolios that focus on helping customers design efficient IT operations and easily adapt to changing business needs. Included in these new innovations are: the new Cisco MDS 9396S Fabric Switch, which is a 96-port high-density 16G fabric switch that allows the deployment of shared storage, common backup and business continuity solutions for SMB and enterprise customers in a small footprint while still leaving room for future growth; 40 Gigabit Converged Ethernet support across Nexus 7700 and Nexus 7000 platforms, which gives customers the flexibility to deploy 40 Gigabit FCoE, NAS, iSCSI, IP-based object storage, and LAN connectivity on a single platform; and support for the highest performance 16G FICON capabilities in the industry on Cisco’s existing MDS 9700 and 9250i platforms, all the while supporting FICON Distance Extension using 10G FCIP and specialized acceleration technologies.

As an extension to the MDS 9148S, the new Cisco MDS 9396S Multilayer Fabric Switch is the company’s newest versatile and affordable 96 port 16G FC switch, delivering impressive density with enterprise-class capabilities. Cisco has indicated their newly released switch is being introduced as a response to the adoption of all flash storage and due to the ever-growing increase in Data Center Storage demand. Additionally, Cisco indicates that their existing MDS 9700 and 9250i platforms now offer the highest performance 16G FICON capabilities on the market and support FICON Distance Extension using 10G FCIP and specialized acceleration technologies.

The MDS 9396S is available in two configurations: a 48-Port base configuration that features a ‘pay-as-you-grow’ model, which gives customers the ability to upgrade to 96 ports in 12-port increments; and a 96-port fully configured base configuration, which makes ordering and installation a seamless process. Cisco states that SMB customers will have enough ports to connect all the server and storage ports to just a few MDS 9396S switches, resulting in high availability as well as room for future growth. In addition, customers with larger SAN deployments can deploy the MDS 9396S as a Middle of Row switch, which allows SMBs to grow to hundreds of ports with fewer chassis.

Previously available on only Nexus 5600 and Nexus 2300 platforms, Cisco has announced 40G Converged Ethernet support across Nexus 7700 and Nexus 7000 platforms, allowing customers the flexibility to deploy 40G FCoE, NAS, iSCSI, IP-based object storage, and LAN connectivity on a single platform.

Features include:

  • Available on Cisco Nexus 7700 F3-Series 24-port 40 Gigabit Ethernet Module for Cisco Nexus 7700 18-slot, 10-slot, 6-slot, and 2-slot Series of Switches. With 960-Gbps of bandwidth, the Cisco Nexus 7700 F3-Series 24-Port 40 Gigabit Ethernet Module offers the highest Storage Networking Performance for Fibre Channel traffic in the industry.
  • Available on Cisco Nexus 7000 F3-Series 12-port 40 Gigabit Ethernet Module for Cisco Nexus 7000 18-slot, 10-slot, 6-slot, and 2-slot Series of Switches. The large already installed base of Cisco Nexus 7000 switches can now be used to deploy 40 Gigabit Converged Ethernet.
  • Enables convergence of 10/40 Gigabit line-rate storage traffic in a multipathing spine-leaf architecture

Because 10G/40G Converged Ethernet is deployed at the access, 16G line-rate FC deployed on Cisco MDS at the storage core, and 40GE spine-leaf architecture for IP storage traffic, Cisco indicates that their customers can now mix-and-match the various Cisco MDS, Cisco Nexus, and Cisco UCS products. As a result, this allows them to design a highly-efficient unified fabric architecture, which has the ability to adapt to a customer’s future needs.

Cisco also announced new enhancements to simplify SAN management and reduce operational cost. These updates include: End-to-end visibility into virtual servers, compute, network, SAN, and storage environments, which informs IT administrators of the differences in configuration between the Storage Array’s LUN masking database and the Storage Area Network’s zone database. The Automated Path Redundancy feature automatically analyzes, both every 24 hours and on demand, to proactively flag any issues.

Custom Application Port Groups functionality allows SAN Administrators to independently monitor and generate performance reports and threshold-based alerts for user-definable groups of ports located anywhere on the storage network. Additionally, the dedicated hardware-based Fibre Channel congestion detection and recovery logic, which is available across all MDS 16G products, provides precise, fast detection and user-configurable automatic, real-time recovery from potential slow drain conditions in the SAN while the enhancement to the Data Center Network Manager tool allows for monitoring and reporting of slow-drain conditions across the entire fabric.

Availability

The Cisco MDS 9396S Multilayer Fabric Switch, the new extended 16G FICON capabilities, and the new SAN management enhancements are slated for July 2015 release. The new 40 Gigabit Converged Ethernet for Nexus 7700 and Nexus 7000 Series switches will be available sometime in June 2015.

Cisco website

Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switches

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