I remember when Gigabit Ethernet was pretty fast. In fact, the name of the technology was “Fast Ethernet”. That’s how fast it was. 100 megabits per second fast. And when 1 Gigabit Ethernet became available, whoa!
Who would ever use that bandwidth? Then we started talking about storage over Ethernet. Particularly, block storage over Ethernet. And the requirements for performance, latency, and reliability were cast in a new light as Gigabit Ethernet was suddenly being compared to Fibre Channel.
Ethernet development wasn’t standing still. But, the price per port for the next generation of 10GbE adapters and switches was an obstacle for most use cases. Gigabit Ethernet was (and in many cases still is) good enough for many storage workloads, with the exception of high end storage. And for that use case, there were other solutions already addressing that need. Well, times have changed and 10 Gigabit Ethernet is actually affordable (especially as measured by $/Gb of bandwidth) and is being adopted broadly. We are now even starting to see adoption of 40 Gigabit and preparation for 100 Gigabit Ethernet deployments.
One of the first 40GbE switch products on the market is the new Cisco Nexus 6004. This is a beast of bandwidth with 96 40GbE ports or up to 384 10GbE ports using fan out cables. So, you can use 40GbE as uplink ports or use the Nexus 6004 as a very high density 10GbE switch. Either way, you get some serious bandwidth.
Additionally, the Nexus 6004 supports native FCoE traffic for both 10GbE and 40GbE speeds. So, when the time comes to dial your FCoE storage infrastructure up to 11, you have the switch infrastructure to accommodate
Complementing the Nexus 6004 is the Cisco Nexus 2248PQ fabric extender. This device allows you to aggregate 10GbE links and extend the bandwidth through 40GbE uplinks to a Nexus 6004 switch to other parts of your Ethernet infrastructure. As 10GbE becomes common in the access layer of the data center, aggregating the bandwidth becomes a necessity to connect to the rest of your network and storage.
NetApp and Cisco are strategic partners and continue to extend the value of Ethernet storage networks to our customers. From a storage protocol perspective, the Nexus 6004 has already been tested and is fully supported for FCoE and Ethernet connectivity to the NetApp storage controllers. As a convenience, NetApp resells Cisco switches, and when combined with FlexPod offers best in class data center converged infrastructures.
So, what do you think? Are you looking at 40GbE already? Let me know when you expect to make the leap.