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March 30, 2011


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Flash Mob

I was shown a Cisco roadmap which shows this FCOE blade as an FCOE-target only solution, and says "no LAN support". How is that a convergence solution? Also, it only has 8x 10GbE ports. Why just 8? I saw Brocade has had an FCOE blade that has 24x 10GbE ports and does support LAN connectivity. Let's see, if convergence is important to me, would I prefer 80Gb of bandwidth or 240Gb of bandwidth? And yes, LAN connectivity would be nice in a converged network. I have to say, the author sounded so hopped up on the Cisco kool-aide he seemed like he was about to pass out. If your an engineer, you better do your research before jumping into the converged networking pitch - there's a whole world of planning that is critical. My LAN guys and SAN guys are going to have to learn to communicate with each other and be friends. Any time a change needs to happen on the SAN side, they are going to have to notify the LAN team, and vice versa. When a CNA goes bad, who's job is it to call the CNA vendor, the LAN guys or the SAN guys? I'm not saying stay away from converged networking. I'm saying have a lot of PLANNING sessions with both teams in the room. Or else you'll find your CIO boss will have your head on a platter. Also, no matter how much redundancy you build into it, converged networking is putting all your eggs in one basket - is that really worth the cabling and infrastructure "cost savings"? I will say the new ethernet which is more lossless and deterministic looks promising for the LAN side, but the SAN side isn't broken - converged networking doesn't solve anything for the SAN side, and in fact complicates things worse. Still, when (not if) things go wrong, do you want all your eggs in one basket? Yikes. I'll stick with our current model, keep my LAN and SAN separate - but I do like the idea of upgrading my LAN side to the new ethernet.

Juan Tarrío (BRCD)

Hey Chad, can you elaborate on what's new about the Cisco SME? I haven't been able to find any details about it anywhere, and comments like yours or the one seen at http://thenetworkworld.blogspot.com/2011/03/cisco-data-center-revamp-cuts-across.html ("What's more, Cisco unveiled the MDS 9000 Storage Media Encryption fabric service, which offers secure media encryption for disks and tapes to meet security requirements for regulatory compliance") don't add a lot of detail. This product has existed for over 2 years, so what is exactly new?

Kelley McGowan

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Great Article!

Dont forget the 6500 line card updates


Richard Rose

Flash Mob, the MDS 9500 8-port 10G line rate FCoE module you're referring to is primarily an ISL module which bridges Nexus based networks supporting FCoE to the MDS 9500 Fibre Channel SANs.
This preserves investments customers have made in their Fibre Channel SANs, even as they move towards converging their access layer using FCoE with Neuxs products.

For LAN+SAN convergence on host facing connections, you will be looking at the Nexus platforms, the Nexus 5000 and now the "director-class" Nexus 7000.

As for comparisons to the Brocade DCX FCoE module, this actually is limited to 8x8Gbps FC connections over the backplane, or 54.4-Gbps of data (8 ports x 8.5Gbps @ 8b/10b encoding). You'll get a full 80-Gbps of data using the MDS 9500 8-port FCoE module.

Also AFAIK, in-service software upgrades (ISSU) are not supported when this blade is in the DCX, a non-starter for any mission critical storage networks. ISSU is supported on any Cisco switch that supports FCoE.

Disclosure: I work for Cisco.

Paul Valentino

All great stuff but I wish you would have bolded and capitalized the following:
"The pure “just do it at the disk media” helps with a NARROW SET OF USE CASES (stolen or misplaced disks), but with none of the others."
IMO data-in-flight is where the true risk lies for customer managed or private datacenters that have adequate physical security measures. And when I say data-in-flight, I'm not referring to the FC traffic that is isolated to the DC but what ends up out on the IP Network. While the attack surface may increase for converged networks, I'd still focus my energies on protecting the ingress/egress points into the DC rather than creating greater latency by encrypting data-at-rest or FC traffic.

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