The following article has been provided by our partner Amit Jain, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Cisco.
“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future” – Jedi Master Yoda.
Planning for the future can be very challenging. To effectively prepare for the unknown it is best to design into any plans, the added flexibility. This is especially true with IT. With the exponential growth in electronic data, storage requirements are rapidly evolving and will continue to change. So, you will need solutions offering the flexibility and investment protection to allow you to adapt to unexpected events. One focus area can be your data center infrastructure. If you can wire your data center storage network once with a flexible network technology that can be re-configured through software to run any storage protocol, you can stay ahead of the game.
Ethernet-based data center infrastructures offer a degree of future-proofing because the physical transport can support multiple protocols and data traffic types, including block and file storage traffic. Support for both SAN and NAS traffic allows you to configure and reconfigure your logical networks dynamically without having to rewire all or a portion of your network. For data centers with large investments in traditional Fibre Channel (FC) fabrics, Ethernet offers options for you as well. While FC SANs continue to power mission-critical data centers, the availability of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) adds the ability to run the same FC technology constructs over a lossless Ethernet transport supported with data center bridging (DCB). So, you can now leverage your expertise in Fibre Channel and transition easily to a shared Ethernet infrastructure with FCoE, while at the same time gaining the flexibility to run iSCSI, NFS, SMB/CIFS and other LAN traffic on the same Ethernet link. This is one of the primary reasons, why multi-hop and end-to-end FCoE is increasingly gaining traction.
Now, if for some reason, you may not be ready to make the transition from FC to Ethernet right away, Cisco 10 Gigabit Ethernet networks offers Unified Port (UP) functionality to bridge the divide. The Unified Port functionality takes the guesswork out of the network design by allowing the device ports to be dynamically configured as FC or lossless Ethernet giving you the peace of mind so that you can transition when most convenient. On the server-side network, Unified Port capability is available on the Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnect and the Cisco Nexus switch platforms. With the introduction of the NetApp unified target adapter (UTA2), this functionality is now available with 16Gb FC/10Gb Ethernet on the storage target. With Cisco and NetApp together, you now have available end-to-end multi-protocol flexibility for maximum investment protection!
For more information on the flexible designs and real-world benefits of end-to-end Ethernet-based Multi-protocol storage networks, please visit the following customer adoption blog series.