Dr. Peter Venkman would love Fabric Vision technology

The following article has been provided by our partner, Rick Balderama, Director, Partner Marketing, Brocade Communications.


To quote Dr. Peter Venkman, “we came, we saw, we kicked its xxx!”  The classic line from Ghostbusters (referencing the capture of a focused, non-terminal repeating phantasm – or a Class Five full roaming vapor…….a real nasty one too) was a play on a quote a few years prior when Julius Caesar commented “veni, vidi, vici” after an easy win over the English in 55 BC.


Better visibility can lead to great things.  NetApp offers Brocade’s Fabric Vision technology for Brocade Gen 5 Fibre Channel networks, which may inspire some storage and network admins to confidently comment “we came to work, I saw the problem, and we kicked its xxx – now, what time does happy hour start?”


Brocade Fabric Vision technology takes the previously cumbersome and mind-numbing task of checking the spider web of cables when data errors occur, and instead makes that task a simple, quick process.  On top of that, it helps network and storage administrators implement policy-based thresholds easily – which allows for proactive management of the network, better support the applications running on that storage network, and save a bunch of time.


A quick video about Fabric Vision is available here.


One of the incredibly useful technologies in Fabric Vision is Brocade ClearLink diagnostics. ClearLink ensures the optical and signal integrity for Gen 5 Fibre Channel optics and cables, which simplifies deployment and troubleshooting of the Fibre Channel fabric.

When we were discussing this technology recently at NetApp Insight with NetApp’s technical sales and reseller community – we got a lot of “wow, that’s really useful!” responses. Our customers agree.

Let me give you a real-life example.  A large client of Brocade’s in the Midwest was installing new Gen 5 FC switches and backbones in its network, and using ClearLink for the first time.  As they were completing the installations, and before any production traffic was passed on the network, they were able to discover very simply that almost 15% of their cables had issues.  This is the first time they’d ever been able to find these issues so quickly – and it was a real shock to them.  Some issues were related to dirty transceivers, some related to small cracks in the glass inside the cable which are caused when the cabling supplier (or, their own staff) pull on a cable too hard, or bend it farther than fiber optic cables are designed to bend.  None of these issues were apparent from a visual inspection of the cable.

Many of these problems wouldn’t have been problems initially – but would have resulted in data integrity issues over time that would have caused a headache for whoever had to spend time trying to figure out the root cause of the problem.  The ClearLink diagnostics technology saved this network administrator and organization a huge amount of time in trouble- shooting issues, determining which cable was the problem, and then replacing those cables. And it allowed them to hold their cabling supplier accountable to errors that had been made in the installation – getting all this fixed right the first time.

Another great automation tool in Fabric Vision is Monitoring and Alerting Policy Suite (MAPS).  This is a new policy-based threshold monitoring and alerting tool that proactively
monitors the health of the storage network.  The real time-saver here is that this technology allows customers to use pre-built/policy-based templates based upon best practices in storage networking management.  Or, customers can also customize the policies and monitoring to best support their infrastructure.

Customers save time as they can configure the entire fabric (or multiple fabrics) at one time using common rules and policies.  Or, if they want, they can also customize policies for specific ports or switch elements—all through a single dialog.

An integrated dashboard displays an overall switch health report, along with details on out-of-policy conditions.  This helps network administrators quickly pinpoint potential issues in the network.

Fabric Vision also includes a lot of other great technologies such as Flow Vision, which allows customers to monitor and analyze specific application data flows to maximize performance, as well as things like bottleneck detection and Forward Error Correction.  All of these technologies are designed to make the storage networks simpler to manage, and save network and storage admin’s time.

Fabric Vision comes as part of the Enterprise License Bundle sold through NetApp and is included with Brocade 8510-18 and DCX Gen 5 backbones. The Enterprise License Bundle can also be purchased separately or as an upgrade for other products.  More information on Fabric Vision can be found here.

I’m not saying Fabric Vision will make network and storage admins the next Julius Caesar, or even the next Dr. Peter Venkman.  But, it’ll help them save time and money in managing their storage network, and help them become more proactive with their time. They may even find a little more time on the hands to do things, like watching Dr. Venkman riff on Julias Caesar in  Ghostbusters.