Welcome back to our blog.
In this week’s second post we’re gonna talk about storage solutions. More concretely, about how datacenter design is changing on what has to deal with storage technologies.
In recent but not state of the art datacenter solutions, the storage related part of the datacenter was kind of a differentiated area, even on what has to deal with networking. To communicate with the storage units an specific non generalistic protocol was used, Fiber Channel (FC). FC is a data transmission protocol used in SANs, which provides high-performance connectivity enabling storage devices to communicate with servers and vice versa. Hence , all the part of the network that managed storage units, also called SAN, had to use specific interfaces and protocols on its network devices. Hence, there had to be specific links on all layers (core, distribution, access) to provide the interested parties with connectivity to the SAN. That resulted in a complex and separated network infrastructure.
In current solutions, where layers try to be compressed and physical equipment tends to a general purpose philosophy, a different physical network for data and computing power has no place. Hence, new datacenter designs aggregate the access layer so the SAN and the server’s aggregation network do not have to both have a high-availability configuration against the servers connected at the access layer. In order to pass the FC encapsulated data through the ethernet network FCoE is used. FCoE is the protocol that allows us to encapsulate FC frames into Ethernet frames, enabling converged solutions, which integrate the functionality of traditional FC switches and Ethernet switches. FCoE helps to reduce the number of network adapters, switches, cables, and power and cooling costs.
Through this new concept, more converged solutions are achieved hence getting to solutions more adequate to what our vendor recommends as a network topology. Solutions, where even all network equipment is seen as one and therefore being important that the interfaces on the network equipment can transport all protocols used on the network.