What to expect when upgrading your mission-critical FC SAN to Brocade Gen 7
Generation 7 of Brocade Fibre Channel switches offers many benefits for organizations with mission-critical workloads such as financial institutions, retailers and government agencies. However, before you either postpone upgrading or rush forward too quickly, do you know where to look for ROI so you can get the most value out of this investment? What about compatibility with other parts of your data center network infrastructure? Have you thought about whether Brocade Gen 7 will play nice with components like the DWDM optics you use for your DCI?
50% lower latency with Fibre Channel performance improvements in Brocade Gen 7
The emergence of the NVMe protocol presents great opportunities for organizations with mission-critical workloads to meet new bandwidth demands while retaining all the Fibre Channel security and capacity benefits they enjoy. Brocade Gen 7 technology brings support for NVMe over Fibre Channel (FC-NVMe) for the first time and has been shown to enable 50% lower latency.
These Gen 7 performance boosts are poised to make your mission-critical SAN workloads even more resilient by ensuring even higher availability, zero downtime and full data integrity with synchronous mirroring. However, this depends on compatibility with the DWDM optics used for your data center interconnect. And even if they are compatible, the optics will also need to be just as powerful as the Gen 7 switches and use the right type of technology to avoid unnecessary distance and performance degradations.
Improved efficiency with autonomous SAN technology
The complexity of data center infrastructure and workloads has grown in recent years. SANs are already a powerful yet complex setup that’s popular for mission-critical workloads in industries such as banking, retail and the public sector. As a result, maintaining and optimizing your network infrastructure requires an increasing amount of time, energy and expertise from your IT team. This is where Brocade Gen 7 can make a big difference with powerful analytics and automation features built on the principles of self-learning, self-optimizing and self-healing.
With a combination of telemetry data and advanced AI algorithms, Brocade Gen 7’s autonomous SAN technology allows you to improve efficiency and optimize performance in several areas. For instance, some issues can be automatically resolved while others can be immediately identified and flagged for human intervention by the AI. Given that Brocade Gen 7 technology monitors both the fabric and the endpoints, it's easier to pinpoint the source of any traffic congestion or performance regression.
However, to achieve more comprehensive efficiency gains throughout your network, you shouldn’t forget about your data center interconnect. The latest active open line systems can bring the same type of powerful automation and telemetry features to manage your DWDM-based data center interconnect links. All of this will free up your IT team to focus on more value-added activities and make it easier to ensure stable and optimized performance for both existing and new applications and workloads.
Brocade Gen 7 compatibility considerations
As was the case with previous generations, Brocade Gen 7 gives you three generations of backwards compatibility with previous switch generations. This means you can keep using Gen 6 blades in Gen 7 directors and combine Gen 6 with Gen 7 blades. The upgrade path to NVMe is also simplified with the capability to mix and match NVMe storage with existing ports. Support for simultaneous use of Fibre Channel protocol (FCP), FC-NVMe and other popular SAN protocols is another way Gen 7 provides excellent flexibility in terms of compatibility.
However, as with most major upgrades, you could still run into a few hiccups in terms of compatibility if you aren’t careful. For example, the new generation of Brocade switches require new 32G Fibre Channel (or at least 16G) DWDM optics that support secure optics functionality. As a result, you’ll be out of luck if you hadn’t planned to upgrade your previous generation optics that don’t support secure optics functionality.
Don’t forget your DCI optics
In summary, you can expect many excellent performance and efficiency gains from Gen 7. However, you shouldn’t neglect the data center interconnect when planning your Gen 7 upgrade. Planning ahead for DWDM optic upgrades needed for the best compatibility and performance with Gen 7 will save you headaches. But getting your DWDM optics right shouldn’t be seen only as a necessary evil. There are in fact many benefits to upgrading your data center interconnect’s DWDM transceievers, and you’ll sleep well knowing that synchronous mirroring of your mission-critical workloads is even more resilient. Learn more about what to look for to ensure a smooth fit with Brocade Gen 7, such as the only Gen 7-certified DWDM optics by Smartoptics, and how to find the best possible value in our article Ensuring optimum DCI performance with Brocade Gen 7.