Cisco removes probe from place the SAN don't shine in new FC switch

Flash arrays have singed SANs, so Cisco's turned on the data tap to help you burn bottlenecks

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Cisco's decided to save the world from all-flash arrays by giving it a new 32G Fabric Switch, an upgraded Nexus 93180 and data galore.

Switchzilla's motive for the new products is the splendidly high I/O that flash arrays can already handle, and the even stronger torrents of data to come once NVMe and 3D Xpoint become prevalent. Hence the new MDS 9132T fabric switch, depicted above*, a 1U beast capable of packing 32x32-Gbps FC ports..

The machine can ship with eight or 16 ports, with a 16-port “expansion module” offering … erm .. expansion.

The switch also spits out verbose telemetry, to help users figure out where things might be going awry.

“We had some kind of telemery data in the past,” Adarsh Viswanathan, Cisco's senior manager for data centre product management, told The Register, “but the Fibre Channel industry did not capture header information. That was not there from Cisco.”

“Now IOPs are up, so you need granular metrics.” Viswanathan said those metrics have in the past been gathered by hardware probes, but that appetite for extra widgets in the data centre is declining. Hence the new fashionably probe-free telemetry.

Another device capable of dumping that data is the Cisco Nexus 9300-FX, now imbued with 16G Fibre Channel NPV alongside its Ethernet and FcoE capabilities. Viswanathan thinks users will appreciate all those options in one box.

Cisco's also teamed up with SAN performance analysis specialist Virtual Instruments, which has integrated its wares with Switchzilla's MDS 32G Modular Line card and can now analyse its behaviour.

Most array vendors now offer the chance to share performance data anonymously, so that they can run a cloud service that analyses performance across many customers in order to help with proactive analysis of problems. Viswanathan said Cisco's SAN team are contemplating using the new switches' telemetry to power such a service, but it's not yet on an official roadmap. ®

*Or here for m.reg readers. T-rex used because switches are boring to look at and it's Friday afternoon. We're in no way suggesting that Cisco, or SANs, or Fibre Channel, are pre-historic or extinct.


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