It was just a couple months ago that I was seen toting my Brocade lunchbox and helping to promote the new 16Gbps Fibre Channel products as well as, of course, Ethernet fabrics. Since then I’ve made a job change to NetApp, marketing the OnCommand storage management software. However, when I read the recent InfoWorld interview with Brocade CEO Mike Klayko, it reminded me of a couple key things:
1) The continuing importance of the Network within Storage solutions
2) The importance of offering customers choice
Mike Klayko said in the article, “All that customers want, really, is the ability to have flexibility going forward. I don’t care which protocol is underneath, if it’s Fibre Channel or FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) or iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface) or NAS (network-attached storage) or Ethernet.” He continued on this theme, both for his customers and his own internal teams, because “we don’t have religion anymore.” This was remarkable, because it seemed not long ago it was prevalent in the industry to preach either Fibre Channel for everything, or iSCSI, or even Ethernet fabrics. But I guess as the song goes, “That was just a dream.”
I expect customer environments, especially as they virtualize and evolve towards automated and cloud environments, to require flexibility at the network level to best match the needs of the workload as well as the budget. And it will be a long evolution – adopting many converged technologies (CNAs, top of rack I/O, storage arrays, etc.) long before, or perhaps never completely, consolidating end-to-end on any one networking protocol. As shown in the figure below, Ethernet-based storage technologies can be adopted in stages.
Caption: Converged top-of-rack with workload-optimized networks
NetApp values Brocade as a Strategic Alliance partner, and our concept of unified storage and how we’ve embraced network technology convergence exactly maps this shared approach of choice and delivering the best customer solution, both technically and economically.
NetApp was the first vendor to offer native FCoE storage, and we’ll continue to support customers who want the performance and savings of Ethernet-based storage and Ethernet fabrics. We share the fervor that Ethernet in the data center is fundamental to virtualization and cloud-based architectures.
Here’s a joint Brocade-NetApp article I discovered on FCoE and lossless 10GbE in the data center. Thanks for the guest blog post. And so you don’t lose us, along with your religion, our Ethernet storage news and information is available on the web.
About the Author: Mike Harding is currently the Product Marketing Manager for OnCommand storage management software at NetApp. With more than 20 years of experience across software, hardware and services, Mike’s focus is on bringing valuable new technology to market.