40	 2013 Issue 02 | dell.com/powersolutionsConverged infrastructureReprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copy...
dell.com/powersolutions | 2013 Issue 02	 41Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. A...
42	 2013 Issue 02 | dell.com/powersolutionsConverged infrastructureReprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copy...
dell.com/powersolutions | 2013 Issue 02	 43Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. A...
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Accelerating Network Convergence in Virtualized and Cloud Data Centers - by Saleem Muhammad


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Unifying disparate storage and data networks is a natural progression in many virtualization and cloud deployments. Dell™ converged networking innovations offer advanced switching capabilities and intelligent traffic management for these environments.

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Accelerating Network Convergence in Virtualized and Cloud Data Centers - by Saleem Muhammad

  1. 1. 40 2013 Issue 02 | dell.com/powersolutionsConverged infrastructureReprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.To meet escalating I/O workload demandsfor business-critical applications, manyorganizations are transitioning their datacenters to virtualized environments onconverged infrastructure. This approach enablessignificant strides toward increased performancelevels and reduced latency beyond what IT teamshave already achieved through resource consolidationand convergence — notably streamlining operations,enhancing efficiency and boosting return oninvestments in data center infrastructure.Now, IT leaders are looking to apply similarconvergence innovations to networking. Adoptinga converged networking strategy enablesorganizations to traffic server and storage I/Oworkloads on consolidated data throughputchannels. Intelligent software helps optimizemanagement of separate network architectures inconverged network channels.Optimizing network traffic flow and bandwidth hasimportant implications for IT staff and their organizations.Chief information officers (CIOs) and enterprise decisionmakers need to ensure that existing IT assets andinvestments work efficiently and reliably for ongoingbusiness operations. Virtualization administrators needhigh-performance platforms for connecting multipleserver racks to accelerate virtual machine mobilitywhile maintaining management visibility. Storageadministrators are looking to converge internet SCSIUnifying disparate storage and data networks is a natural progression in manyvirtualization and cloud deployments. Dell™ converged networking innovationsoffer advanced switching capabilities and intelligent traffic management forthese environments.By Saleem MuhammadAccelerating network convergencein virtualized and cloud data centersModular, unifiednetworkingThe Dell Networking S5000 switch provides a comprehensiveplatform and modular design that supports leading-edge networkingprotocols — enabling IT organizations to converge LAN and SANthroughput in high-I/O, virtualized environments.• Modular 1U top-of-rack form factor• Integrated automation, scripting and programmability• High port density
  2. 2. dell.com/powersolutions | 2013 Issue 02 41Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.(iSCSI), Fibre Channel, Fibre Channel overEthernet (FCoE) and network attachedstorage (NAS) traffic as well as manage itefficiently. And network administrators need tostreamline capabilities for IT teams managingservers and storage without compromisingthe operational integrity of the organization’snetwork architectures.For these reasons, many organizationsare looking to converge Ethernet-basedlocal area network (LAN) and Fibre Channel–based storage area network (SAN) trafficwithin a single cable. Dell continues todevelop modular, scalable solutions forvirtualized environments and convergedinfrastructure that are based on openstandards, thereby helping organizationsenhance data center flexibility and avoidproprietary hardware and software lock in.The Dell Networking S5000 1U top-of-rack switch offers innovative modularconverged networking capabilities thatuse the recent FCoE protocol. The switchconverges LAN and SAN traffic over a single10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) connectionto help optimize server and storageconnectivity in enterprise-scale data centersthat deploy separate networks based ondifferent networking protocols.Protocols for evolving data centerinfrastructureTraditional data centers that deployvirtualization and cloud computingoften support separate server layers forapplications, databases and web-basedcontent delivery. The Fibre Channel oriSCSI protocol is used to connect theservers to external, shared storage, andboth protocols use separate, dedicatedFibre Channel or Ethernet SAN fabricssimultaneously. As a result, considerablenetworking components — adapters,optics, cables and switches — aredeployed in data centers to maintainseparate networking infrastructures.IT organizations have for some timeconsidered options to help simplifyswitching, cabling and connectionswithin separate networks. Several protocolshave emerged for networking serversand storage.The InfiniBand® protocol, for example,continues to be narrowly adopted. Itgenerally requires procuring specializedphysical media and is mainly appliedto niche deployments necessary inenvironments that require ultrahighperformance and extremely low latency.The iSCSI protocol, on the other hand,continues to experience growing adoptionbecause it capitalizes on the ubiquity ofEthernet connectivity, and it adds a layerover TCP in the TCP/IP stack. After initialdeployments in small and medium businessenvironments, iSCSI is now increasinglyused in enterprise-scale networking.FCoE, a more recent protocol thanInfiniBand and iSCSI, is generally used forSAN fabrics. By helping resolve challengesthat arise because Fibre Channel is noteasily ported to iSCSI, FCoE deploymentsenable organizations to preserve theirexisting investments in Fibre Channel.Many IT leaders today view the FCoEprotocol as a cost-effective opportunityto transition from separate Ethernet-based LAN and Fibre Channel–based SANconnections to converged LAN andSAN networks that maintain separatedata traffic functions.Convergence of separate networksTraditional networking in a straightforward,conventional data center environmentoften requires servers to be equippedwith both network interface cards (NICs)for LAN connectivity and host busadapters (HBAs) to facilitate Fibre Channelconnections to SAN fabrics. For example,if two Ethernet NICs are dedicated to theLAN and two Fibre Channel HBAs arerequired for separate SAN fabrics, thenmaintaining the necessary separationin this networking architecture requiresmultiple switches, optics, cables andadapters. Such connectivity considerationsmay add significant complexity and cost toan organization’s networking infrastructure(see figure).Alternatively, by converging LAN andSAN traffic on the same wire, the numberof switches, optics, cables and adaptersfor server connections may be reduced byhalf. Each server utilizes converged networkadapters to connect single cables to thetwo FCoE-aware Ethernet switches. TheComplex, costly connections in a traditional data center with separate LAN and SAN trafficFabricAFabricBLANNIC 1Dell PowerEdge™server Dell PowerEdge serverEthernetswitch 1Ethernetswitch 2NIC 2 HBA 1 HBA 2 NIC 1 NIC 2 HBA 1 HBA 2Fibre Channelswitch 1Fibre Channelswitch 2
  3. 3. 42 2013 Issue 02 | dell.com/powersolutionsConverged infrastructureReprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.converged LAN and SAN architectures aredesigned to maintain the same networkingseparation between the dedicated LAN andSAN connections (see figure).Converging LAN and SAN traffic inthis way promotes several importantefficiencies. Decreasing the number oftop-of-rack switches for each consolidatedserver rack helps reduce capital expensesand simplify the networking architecture. Inaddition, a decreased number of operatingswitches and adapters helps reduce thecost of cooling and power consumption.Moreover, deploying fewer physicalcomponents helps IT administrators simplifyconfiguration and management.An innovative, scalable design enablesorganizations to deploy modular networkingtechnology based on open standards.This approach also enhances operationalefficiency cost-effectively through intelligentsoftware–based orchestration.Robust, scalable connectivityThe Dell Networking S5000 switch isdesigned to deliver converged LAN andSAN 10GbE, 40 Gigabit Ethernet (40GbE)and native Fibre Channel connectivity ina single networking platform for Layer 2,Layer 3 and storage throughput. Itsmodular design provides flexibility andpay-as-you-grow networking for non-blocking performance, low latency andstacking. The Dell Networking S5000switch includes support for iSCSI, FCoEand bridging to Fibre Channel SAN inaddition to NAS and Remote DirectMemory Access (RDMA) over ConvergedEthernet (RoCE).Open, multi-protocol standards forEthernet and Fibre Channel fabrics enableenhanced flexibility and scalability. The DellForce10™ OS (FTOS) provides a powerful,robust software platform, an industry-standard command-line interface (CLI)and smooth interoperability with openstandards–based hardware and softwarefrom other vendors.The switch’s 1U form factor offers ITorganizations a leading-edge, modularswitch that is designed to optimizethroughput even in data centers thatdo not need to converge LAN and SANtraffic. Organizations can deploy the DellNetworking S5000 switch for Ethernet-onlytraffic without needing to use the switch’sFibre Channel capabilities.The switch is available with twoconnectivity options. One option providesa 12-port Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) and 10GbEmodule with a small form-factor pluggable +(SFP+) port interface, support for optics ordirect attach cable and support for stackingports. The other option offers a 12-port8 Gbps Fibre Channel unified port modulewith a Fibre Channel interface for 2, 4 and8 Gbps connectivity and support for opticsor direct attach cable.Intelligent management softwareCustomization of the networkinginfrastructure often complementscustomized server and storagenetworking configurations to helpdata center operations run efficiently.Intelligent software integrated into theDell Networking S5000 switch facilitatesmanagement through each part of thenetwork architecture’s lifecycle. It also helpssimplify switch configuration and minimizethe time necessary to deploy the network.In addition, the intelligent softwareenables comprehensive visibility intonetwork operations and helps simplifymanagement tasks. The software alsoenhances scalability and broadenstraffic monitoring capabilities to helpoptimize operations.The modular design of the DellNetworking S5000 switch gives ITorganizations the flexibility to customizenetworking environments to meet specificneeds. The switch is also designed tofacilitate the transition to next-generationI/O connectivity alternatives.Moreover, the Dell Networking S5000switch is a key component that augmentsthe Dell Active Fabric initiative. (See thesidebar, “Creating an open, scalablenetworking fabric.”) Active connectivitywithin highly virtualized data centerssmooths the way for building next-generation-capable fabrics. The Dellapproach to providing an open fabric forConverged LAN and SAN connections that significantly reduce network components and maintain trafficseparation cost-effectivelyFabricAFabricBLANDell PowerEdge server Dell PowerEdge serverFCoE switch 1 FCoE switch 2CNA 1 CNA 2 CNA 1 CNA 2
  4. 4. dell.com/powersolutions | 2013 Issue 02 43Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.active connectivity helps organizations avoidproprietary lock in to a single vendor.The Active Fabric Manager componentprovides a single, easy-to-navigate console forend-to-end networking management, from theblade server I/O to the top-of-rack switch to thespine layer of the network. Active Fabric Manageris designed to simplify switch configurations, andit helps IT organizations significantly reduce thetime required for network deployment.In addition, the FTOS software platformis well suited to meet demanding networkingrequirements in virtualized and cloud computingenvironments. It is designed to provide highlydependable intelligent software support that helpsmeet the storage demands in large, enterprise-scale environments utilizing converged LAN andSAN connectivity.Scale-out infrastructurefor converged networkingMany IT leaders have already completed atransition or are in the process of transitioningtheir data centers to virtualized or cloudcomputing environments. These advancesenable enterprises to take advantage of resourceconsolidation and convergence.A logical next step calls for optimizednetworking to help meet the performancedemands of intensifying I/O server and storageworkloads for business-critical applications.Converging iSCSI Ethernet-based LAN trafficwith Fibre Channel–based SAN traffic ona single 10GbE cable offers organizationstremendous opportunities for scaling outnetworking infrastructure quickly andcost-effectively.The Dell Networking S5000 modularswitch provides an innovative platform forconverging LAN and SAN traffic over a single10GbE connection. This top-of-rack switchcomplements the Dell Active Fabric initiativefor accelerating networking convergence invirtualized and cloud-based data centers.Creating an open, scalable networking fabricDeploying virtualization or provisioningvirtual machines helps IT organizationsrun operations smoothly in virtualizedand cloud computing environments.However, implementing networkingservices for a virtual machine canbe complex and time-consuming.Proprietary networking systems may lockorganizations into inflexible architecturesthat are difficult to scale — therebylimiting potential cost-efficiencies.Alternatively, Dell offers an open,innovative platform designed toaccelerate networking convergence invirtualized and cloud computing datacenters. The Dell Active Fabric portfoliooffers multiple rack and scale-outconnectivity options that advancenetwork virtualization with software-defined networking (SDN). An ActiveFabric Manager component providesadvanced networking orchestrationcapabilities from a single console.The Dell Networking S5000 switchaugments the Active Fabric family withrobust, modular switching designed todeliver converged networking. Modularhardware and software capability inActive Fabric enables administrators tocost-effectively scale out the networkarchitecture and optimize emerging east-west — server-to-server — traffic flow.The Dell Networking S5000 switchcomplements Active Fabric throughintegrated automation, softwareprogrammability and scripting. Smartscripting enables network administratorsto expose only the portion of the switchthat is necessary in customized views fora storage or server administrator, or otherIT staff member. In this way, networkadministrators can preserve the integrityof the networking infrastructure whileproviding relevant views for customizingthroughput to meet specific needs.Active Fabric is built on a foundationof robust components designed forSDN environments. It is well suitedfor stitching together server, storageand software in virtualized and cloudcomputing–based data centers.Learn moreDell network hardware and devices:Dell.com/networkingDell Networking S Seriesmanaged switches:qrs.ly/ai3c8g2AuthorSaleem Muhammad is a senior consultant in theProduct Marketing and Management team at Delland is responsible for data center products andsolutions strategy.