The FlexSuite family consists of PCIe adapters that support either Fibre Channel or Ethernet connectivity, Universal Access Point 5900 Series Converged switches that are configurable as either Fibre Channel or Ethernet, and Intelligent Storage Routers.
These adapters, switches, and routers are designed for changing data centers with legacy storage area networks (SANs), local data networks, and WANs--all of which use differing protocols and connections--and will let IT managers avoid ripping and replacing large amounts of network and storage infrastructure as migrations to new technologies often necessitate.
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The FlexSuite adapter is optimized for virtualization environments and frees the server of protocol overhead while minimizing CPU utilization. A PCIe-based adapter, the FlexSuite has Single Root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV) support, which allows it to appear to be multiple separate physical PCIe devices. It can be configured for Ethernet, Fibre Channel, Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), and iSCSI block storage and operates at 16-Gbps Fibre Channel or 10-Gbps Ethernet speeds. And further, in-flight and at rest data is protected by built-in IPsec.
The 5900 Series switches are high-density 1U switches for Fibre Channel or FCoE switching. They use less than 192 watts and feature 24 to 52 small form-factor pluggable (SFP) device ports, plus four quad small form-factor pluggable (QSFP) uplink ports for connection to other switches. QSFP also can be broken out to provide four additional SFP ports each for a total of 68 SFP device ports and over 2-Tbps aggregate bandwidth. The QSFP ports support 64-Gbps Fibre Channel, 40-Gbps FCoE/Ethernet, or, in break-out mode, four lanes of 16-Gbps Fibre Channel or 10-Gbps FCoE/Ethernet.
In the 5900, any SFP port can be configured as 16-Gbps Fibre Channel or 10-Gbps Fibre Channel over Ethernet. They support the newest Ethernet Data Center Bridging protocol. Up to six switches can be stacked together for a total in excess of 300 ports, manageable as a single unit. Each port can be configured in either NPIV-standard transparent mode for use with Brocade and Cisco's switches and management systems or in full fabric mode for management via QLogic's management suite.
With the 5900 switch, customers who do not need FCoE yet do not need to pay extra for an FCoE-enabled switch. When they need FCoE, a license key turns the feature on.
The new intelligent storage router (iSR) is implemented in a blade form factor for high availability. It provides storage migration capability and SAN-over-WAN connectivity for direct cloud storage operations using Fibre Channel over IP. Support is provided for Fibre Channel, iSCSI, and FCoE protocols, and can provide an automatic connection point for comprehensive heterogeneous data migrations between storage arrays from different vendors.
Deni Connor is founding analyst for Storage Strategies NOW, an industry analyst firm that focuses on storage, virtualization, and servers.
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