Rackspace crams more servers into its data centers using Brocade Gen 5 FC technology

Rackspace has completed the deployment of Brocade Gen 5 Fibre Channel SAN solutions across its global data center network. The new Gen 5 Storage Area Network (SAN) is expected to help the company achieve greater density, flexibility and scale in connecting to high-performance EMC storage arrays, resulting in increased efficiency and productivity at each data center.

To create a campus-style data center infrastructure, Rackspace deployed Brocade Gen 5 Fibre Channel SAN director-class switches at eight of its data centers across three continents as a foundation to connect EMC storage and Dell servers to their customer's remote IT environments. This allowed Rackspace to simplify its SAN infrastructure as it crams more servers per square foot o data center space.

"Rapid customer growth and their changing needs for supporting highly virtualized environments required an upgrade to our global SAN infrastructure," said Sean Wedige, CTO, Enterprise Solutions, at Rackspace. "We worked with Brocade and EMC to design a SAN fabric that was easy to grow and manage, while providing the flexibility to allow our data center technicians to connect any device to any switch in the fabric. In addition to improved reliability and availability, the new Brocade SAN fabric has allowed us to use less space and power, supporting our green initiatives, while allowing us better utilization of our physical facilities."

Previously Rackspace used directors to connect to server hosts with smaller fixed-port switches connected to storage to save director ports resulting in a stove pipe effect where servers and storage needed to be located within the same area of a data center. This made it challenging to add and connect additional storage and new servers to meet unplanned customer growth. It also created islands of unused storage and SAN ports.

With their new SAN design, Rackspace links multiple Brocade 8510 directors together using Brocade's unique UltraScale Inter-Chassis Links (ICLs), allowing all front-facing ports to be connected to high-performance EMC VMAX enterprise storage arrays, dramatically increasing scalability and architectural flexibility. Four 16 Gbps optical Fibre Channel cables provide up to 64 Gbps connectivity between each Brocade 8510 director, which provides an exceptionally fast and reliable medium between each switch. Brocade UltraScale ICLs can connect up to ten Brocade DCX 8510 Backbones at distances of up to 100 meters, enabling flatter, faster and simpler fabrics that increase consolidation while reducing network complexity and costs.

For better visibility and insight into the health and performance of each SAN, Rackspace used 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.

Watch this video to know more about the Brocade’s UltraScale Inter-Chassis Link.

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