Fibre Channel driving the next wave of storage innovation

Larry Tam is the Managing Director, Hong Kong & Macau at BrocadeCovering 19 hectares of land, Hong Kong’s Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate is currently home to a total of 11 high tier data centers; the largest data center cluster in the Asia Pacific. Hong Kong is often cited as being the most suitable location for setting up new data centers.

Frost & Sullivan predicts that the Hong Kong data center market will be worth around US$800 million by 2019.

Yet, despite the rosy data center picture, enterprises are facing problems every day with their storage infrastructure. They need to keep their businesses up and running non-stop and keep up with demands from customers, while managing growth and protecting their digital assets from malicious breaches.

FC connecting businesses

Fibre Channel (FC) fabrics are the common thread that connect businesses to their most critical applications and data, driving the world’s economies with the most trusted and widely deployed network infrastructure for enterprise storage. According to IDC, the vast majority of data center storage capacity has been and continues to be FC.

Globally, 30 billion transactions pass through FC each day, which is equivalent to moving 15 years’ of HD video in ten minutes. A single fabric is able to scale to tens of thousands of devices in large, multi-petabyte mixed-workload environments, with integrated security, and 99.9999% uptime. It also offers an entry point for organizations that want to deploy shared, mixed-workload storage environments and densely-virtualized environments.

Enabling all-flash environment

FC is also playing an enabling role for enabling all-flash environment, as the market continues to grow at a staggering rate. IDC expects the all-flash market will double from 2014 to reach US$1.6 billion market in 2016.

With the cost-per-gigabyte for flash going down, businesses everywhere are eager to adopt flash in the compute and storage layer, for performance-intensive workloads. When used in the right manner, flash also provides an economically-sustainable approach for data center build-outs.  But flash-based performance very much depends on the networks that connect the compute and storage tiers.

Today’s networks have to deliver flash-enabled storage access to servers in a scalable, consistent, and latency-free manner. Many businesses assume their existing network infrastructure will generally meet the demands placed by flash-based data access.  However, the reality is that the performance demands of flash are a step-function higher than before. Legacy, lower-performance networks simply do not provide the scale and agility needed when flash is introduced at the storage or compute layer.

In spite of the advent of Ethernet-based networks in recent years, many organizations and vendors rely on FC as the network of choice when it comes to all-flash arrays or flash-enabled, high-performance storage access. The 16 Gbps link speed provided by FC networking matches well with the requirements to support the growing wave of high-performance storage architectures.

FC storage area networks have enabled high density virtualization at enterprise scale by providing a storage foundation that delivers reliable and scalable high performance storage. Even today, the majority of virtual machines are deployed on a SAN-based storage infrastructure. FC has enabled shared storage for enterprises looking to maximize storage utilization through the decoupling of storage from servers, and the elimination of storage silos.