Brocade Gen 5 Fibre Channel SAN Powers Global Hybrid Cloud Hosting Offering Rackspace

Networking solutions vendor Brocade has announced that cloud hosting provider Rackspace has completed the deployment of Brocade Gen 5 Fibre Channel SAN solutions across its global data center network to accommodate further customer growth.

With their new SAN design, Rackspace links multiple Brocade 8510 directors together

In Rackspace’s previous SAN architecture, directors were used to connect to server hosts with smaller fixed-port switches connected to storage to save director ports. This architecture resulted in a stove pipe effect where servers and storage needed to be located within the same area of a data center, creating challenges when adding and connecting additional storage and new servers to meet unplanned customer growth. In addition, it fostered unbalanced data center growth and created islands of unused storage and SAN ports.

To fix these issues, Rackspace wanted to simplify the SAN designs for each data center and to establish a “plug anywhere in the data center” model without regard to physical location of the host or storage platform in order to maximize port utilization and ease deployment constraints.

Director-class switches

Brocade Gen 5 Fibre Channel director-class switches were deployed to allow Rackspace to simplify their SAN infrastructure and create a denser environment that enables more ports per square foot of data center space. These switches are now deployed in eight of Rackspace’s data centers across three continents as a foundation to connect EMC storage and Dell servers to their customer’s remote IT environments.

With their new SAN design, Rackspace links multiple Brocade 8510 directors together using Brocade’s UltraScale Inter-Chassis Links (ICLs) technology, allowing all front-facing ports to be connected to high-performance EMC VMAX enterprise storage arrays. Four 16 Gbps optical Fibre Channel cables provide up to 64 Gbps connectivity between each Brocade 8510 director.

Performance of each SAN

To receive comprehensive visibility and insight into the health and performance of each SAN, Rackspace utilizes Brocade Fabric Vision technology, which allows storage administrators to address problems before they impact operations. By using the “at-a-glance dashboard” feature of Fabric Vision, customized health and performance views are created that provide all critical information on one screen.

Rackspace is now working to deploy other Brocade Fabric Vision features, including Flow Vision and ClearLink diagnostics. Brocade Flow Vision is a suite of tools that allows administrators to easily identify specific application data flows, monitor and analyze potentially problematic devices before they impact fabric performance, and proactively validate fabrics to maximize application performance, avoid congestion and optimize resources.