Convergence in a Podcast, Conference and Virtual Seminar

October 18, 2010

Just a quick post – sharing a podcast that I did with Thomas Jones, I’ll be attending Interop in NYC this week and I’ll be presenting as part of a virtual seminar on October 27th.

Coffee with Thomas

I had the pleasure of recording a podcast with Thomas Jones (who I met in person at EMC World this year) – it’s a nice relaxed conversation with the two of us talking about technology (VMware, stacks, network convergence and mobile) and social (blogging).  You can listen to the 30 minute podcast here or on iTunes.  Be sure to check out Thomas’ other segments with some of my favorite people including Mark Twomey, Louis Gray and Jamie Pappas.

Interop

I’ll be attending the Interop conference in New York City (Javits Center) on Wednesday and Thursday.  I’ll be talking to a number of networking and cloud vendors.  It’s been many years since I’ve been to this conference (it was Networld+Interop the last time I went), I’m curious to see how this independent show compares to the “World” vendor shows (EMC, VMware, Oracle, etc).  Anyone who is attending that would like to chat, drop a comment on the site or ping me on Twitter.  The hashtag for the conference is #interop.

Network Evolution

On October 27th, SearchNetworking.com (TechTarget’s networking group) will be holding a free virtual seminar called Network Evolution: Adapting to New Architectures.  There will be a cloud presentation by John Burke, a virtualization presentation by Eric Siebert and I will be presenting a converged network presentation.  My session will cover the latest in FC, Ethernet (FCoE, iSCSI, 40/100GbE) and InfiniBand.  The session is an hour long, about half of which is Q&A from the audience, so please come and bring your questions – register here.

Hope to see you at one of the events online or in person.

Stuart Miniman

http://blogstu.wordpress.com


Q&A from First Week on the New Job

June 4, 2010

The first week at Wikibon has flown by.  I’ve gotten a bunch of questions from people and thought I’d do a quick Q&A.

What does “Wikibon” mean? Very simply, Wikibon = wiki (quick from the Hawaiian wiki wiki) + bon (good) >> Quick & Good Information

What is the logo? The bee is associated with community.

What will you be doing? On the technology side, I will be doing research and being an analyst.  The area that I am going to focus on is the “the convergence of server, network and storage – INFRASTRUCTURE CUBED”.  I’ve written a couple of blog posts on the Wikibon site already, I will tag all of the posts on this topic with the infrastructure_3 tag which you can find here.  My first full post is FCoE related; I’ll be branching out to cover virtualization, infrastructure and lots of other topics.  You can also subscribe to the Wikibon blog.

As for the community/social media aspect, I also put my first entry on the wiki side – an idea on how to further engage and leverage the community to help create an “Executive Primer” on the various technologies that get discussed.  It’s a very broad community which I’m looking forward to getting to know more about and engage with.

Have you met with any EMC competitors yet? Yes, I had my first NDA meeting and it was with a competitor (one of the attendees was a former EMCer who I knew – no shock since there are lots of great people at EMC, and plenty of great people who have left EMC to work on other things).

How is the commute? I can get to the Wikibon HQ a few different ways depending on traffic. The morning ride for me is 10 miles further than the old one, but is the same time since it is highway instead of back roads with plenty of lights and school busses.  The ride home is a bit tricker.

Do you have time for lunch? The month of June is rather busy, but possibly yes.  Within a 1 minute drive from the office are Five Guys burgers, Chipotle, Panera, an Indian restaurant and many more.  The grocery store nearby has a good salad bar which I’ll be trying to use more than the other places and I’m going to need to hit the gym to make up for all of these indulgences.

What about the Blog Stu site? I expect to be very busy writing in a number of places.  My current plan is that the more technical (Infrastructure Cubed) posts will be on Wikibon while general social media and innovation related posts (such as what I’m doing next week at the World Innovation Forum) will go on this blog.  There will be times that I’ll syndicate content on both sites (I also post on SiliconANGLE).  My Twitter account and Google Reader/Buzz shared items will be a good central source for all of my content.

Thanks everyone who has been writing me notes of encouragement and for reading and following on the various sites.  I’d welcome any feedback or suggestions on how I flow content between the sites – let me know how I’m doing at balancing the “personal vs. career“.

Stuart Miniman

http://blogstu.wordpress.com

PS – Am I link too much?  Would you prefer references at the end rather than links embedded? See “Delinkification” from Nick Carr.

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EMC is Your Sherpa on the Journey to Converged Networks

May 10, 2010

I’ve spoken often on this blog about Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) as a great option for Converged Network technology.  There have been a lot of discussions on the technical maturation of standards and products for FCoE, there has been less discussion of how the operational and organizational changes of deploying a converged network will be dealt with.  To help customers work through these changes, EMC will leverage over a decade of expertise in storage networking to deliver world-class services and products for Ethernet-based storage products.  The services and products cover multiple 10Gb Ethernet solutions including FCoE, Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE), iSCSI and NAS.

EMC has travelled this path before

Learning new technologies, interoperability, best practices, trouble shooting… EMC has walked these paths many times. They understand both the pitfalls and the shortcuts, and know how to guide you even in places where vision can be blurred by lack of oxygen.  The E-Lab organization even publishes free “maps” including interoperability guides and best practices (including a full Tech Book on Ethernet and FCoE).

Confidence in choosing the right path

Even with a good map and guide, the goals of your journey can change over time, so the services and products that EMC provides are designed to allow for flexibility and growth.  The services provide you all of the tools to deploy a reliable and secure data center.  EMC isn’t on this trip alone, there is a full stack of partners to travel with you including VMware, Microsoft, Cisco and Brocade.  Wherever you are along the spectrum of upgrading to 10Gb Ethernet, deploying FCoE or rolling out a full private cloud environment, EMC can help.

Photos: (top) Grand Canyon taken by me; (middle) actual cables from E-Lab

Below are the slides of my EMC World session.  In addition to presenting the session live twice at EMC World, there is a recording of the session that attendees can get from the EMC World website.  My EMC FCoE whitepaper has also been updated and can be found here.  You can watch live streaming internet TV from EMC World discussing Converged Networks with EMC, Brocade and Cisco at 3:30pm on Wednesday, May 12th.

Stuart Miniman

http://blogstu.wordpress.com

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Happy 30th IEEE 802!

March 16, 2010

Sometimes, standards are an obstacle to innovation. Sometimes innovations lead to chaos. The art is in knowing when standards will accelerate innovation

From The Day Dot-Coms Were Invented by Bob Metcalfe (Ethernet inventor)

Today is the 30th anniversary of IEEE 802 standards committee which has delivered Ethernet technologies (including wireless Ethernet) and the Data Center Bridging enhancements which enable FCoE.  I really liked Bob’s quote about innovation and standards.  It might be “easy” for a single vendor to try and tackle a new market, but customers rely on the standards bodies to give them some stability in the future of their investments and flexibility that they will not be stuck with a single vendor.  There is a complex dance that goes on between what vendors drive through the standards and what is delivered as value added functionality.


40Gb and 100Gb Ethernet status and outlook

March 5, 2010

I had the pleasure of attending the Ethernet Technology Summit last week in San Jose.  In addition to presenting as part of the FCoE track, I was able to spend a day getting updated on 40Gb and 100Gb Ethernet from the people and vendors involved in creating the standards which are both expected to be ratified in June 2010.  While most enterprise customers are only now starting to deploy 10Gb Ethernet, the completion of the higher speeds are very important developments.  Traditionally, the higher speeds allow for greater utilization of the previous generation; we have seen that 10Gb is first deployed at the backbone for environments that have deployed 1Gb at the server.  There are 2 significant changes that I’ll highlight about the next instantiation of Ethernet:

  1. There are new speeds – 40Gb and 100Gb
  2. There is expected to be a shift in cabling from a copper to optical

Why we need both 40Gb and 100Gb Ethernet

Ethernet has always moved in 10x increments from 10Mb > 100Mb > 1Gb > 1oGb.  Below is a 2007 IEEE forecast of server adoption of Ethernet Connections.  While the standard for 10Gb Ethernet was ratified in 2002, it wasn’t until 2007 until server adoption began and it was 2009/2010 before we saw significant customer deployments in their datacenters and servers.

The presenters at the conference made a compelling case that server IO doubled every 24 months, while core networking doubled every 18 months.  Server bus architectures must also mature to take advantage of the high bandwidth interconnect.  This led to the idea to create 100Gb for the core (between switches) and 40Gb for the distribution/aggregation (pedestal/rack/blade servers to switches).  As for the uses for these speeds, it is the next generation of servers which are characterized by dense computing and high utilization through virtualization which will use 40Gb and 100Gb will enable the success of 10Gb servers.

Is it finally the end of copper?

When 10Gb Ethernet was first ratified as a standard, optical was the only option that was available.  The idea of creating 10GBase-T (using RJ45 connected cables such as CAT6/6a) was around in 2002, became a standard in 2006 and just last month, Cisco announced their first product supporting this option.  With the ratification of 40Gb and 100Gb coming in only a few months, we once again find that the options for cabling are optical and a short-distance copper (no UTP).  A note on cabling:

10Gb Ethernet currently supports optical (300m support w/ OM3 multimode fibre), Twinax (SFP+DA copper w/ lengths varying by vendor, but < 10m) and 10GBase-T (CAT6 at 55m; CAT6a at 100m; note that today there are no FCoE solutions supporting 10GBase-T).

Both 40Gb and 100Gb Ethernet will have a copper option up to 7m (QSFP connector – this is what is used in InfiniBand today, not what is used for 10Gb) and multimode optical up to 100m (and singlemode up to 10km).

The official position of the Ethernet Alliance is that the adoption of 40/100 will see us shift from UTP to optical.  With 1Gb Ethernet and earlier generations, over 99% of all cabling deployments were UTP/RJ45.  The price, power requirements, distance limitations and other technical hurdles have been more and more difficult to overcome with each generation.  Storage customers using Fibre Channel are already using optical cabling, so for some customers that are converging the SAN and LAN into a single network with 10Gb Ethernet, the migration to an all optical configuration is easy.  For the legacy of customers with billions of ports of existing cabling infrastructure, it will be an analysis of whether they can reuse their existing environment.  In new datacenter builds, there will need to be a determination as to how UTP and optical cabling options match the expected maturing of technology over the lifetime of a deployment (typically 5-10 years).

Outlook

Adoption of Ethernet speeds may take many years, but the availability of the next speeds provide investment protection and a path for continued growth.  Ethernet may be ubiquitous, but there as practitioners roll-out 10Gb Ethernet, they should become familiar with the 40Gb and 100Gb to understand how decisions that they make today may allow for adoption of future technologies.

Comments and clarifications are welcome.  If you’re new to this site, please consider subscribing to this blog.

Stuart Miniman

http://blogstu.wordpress.com

Are you on Google Buzz?  Find me at http://www.google.com/profiles/stuminiman

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FCoE: Facts and Questions

February 3, 2010

Today, I had the pleasure of participating on Wikibon’s FCoE: Fact vs. Fiction call.  In case you weren’t sure of the power of social media – even for a niche discussion of FCoE, a bunch of bloggers promoting the event had the call beyond the 200 line capacity of the system.  If you weren’t able to be part of the call, the audio is now available (click the play button below).

A number of posts are being created on the Wikibon site to summarize the actions that should be taken based on the discussion.  It’s a collaborative effort, I did the vendor actions post:

On February 2nd’s FCoE Fact vs. Fiction call call, we discussed that one of the key benefits of FCoE is that there is a robust vendor ecosystem including server, operating system, network and storage vendors. The creation of the technology includes new standards in both storage (T11) and networking (IEEE and IETF). There was some concern from practitioners that FCoE could be plagued with some of the interoperability challenges that have historically been found in the FC market.

As vendors are looking to move customers along the adoption curve of FCoE, they would do well to consider both the historical challenges of the industry as well as the long term goal of flexibility that customers are pursuing.

Action Item: Vendors that are serious about FCoE will do more than just give lip service to the development of solutions. They should actively engage in the creation of standards that will allow for vendor interoperability. They will also create robust documentation including reference architectures.

Footnotes: See EMC’s FCoE Techbook (http://www.emc.com/collateral/hardware/technical-documentation/h6290-fibre-channel-over-ethernet-techbook.pdf) and Emulex’s Convergenomics: The Converged Network Solutions Guide (http://www.emulex.com/solutions/convergenomics/convergenomics-guide.html)

Disclaimer: I work for EMC and Emulex was involved in organizing the Peer Incite Review Call on FCoE.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions on FCoE or topics that you think would be good for a blog post or video.

Stuart Miniman

http://blogstu.wordpress.com


FCoE in 2010 – update and events

January 7, 2010

Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) is still a hot topic in 2010.  My expectation is that in 2010, FCoE will have strong growth (of course, growing by high percentages is easy when you start with small numbers) and that as more server options with FCoE become available that we will start to see FCoE expanding many FC environments. From a standards perspective, T11 FC-BB-6 is working to “add details” to the current FCoE environments; while the exact goals are not completed, they may include distributed FCF functionality (enabling multi-hop) and direct connectivity of end nodes (removing the requirement of a switch).  People should understand that even when we have multi-hop and end-to-end configurations, that it will take time to grow the scope of solutions.  In 2010, we are unlikely to see an all-Ethernet FCoE configuration running thousands of nodes in a single configuration.

As part of the extending the solution to you, there are some upcoming events where I will be speaking on FCoE.

FCoE: Fact vs Fiction hosted by Wikibon

The first event will be a conversation hosted by Wikibon.  I will be joining Nigel Poulton, Dave Graham and others to discuss the realities of the technology, share what we are hearing in the marketplace and answer your questions.

Please join us and participate in the conversation.

Date: Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Time: 12:00pm – 1:00pm ET (9:00am – 10:00am PT)

See the Wikibon site for more details on the call.

Ethernet Summit

The Ethernet Summit is a 2-day event put on by the Ethernet Alliance, this year’s is February 24-25, 2010 at the Wyndham Hotel in San Jose, CA.

There will be a full day of FCoE where I will be presenting the origins and status of FCoE.  The keynote of the day is Silvano Gai, who literally wrote the book on FCoE.  Claudio DeSanti, Chairperson of the committee at T11 that defines FCoE, will be giving the technology overview and there will be a panel discussion including members from Emulex, HP, QLogic, NetApp and Cisco.

In addition to the FCoE coverage, I’ll be looking forward to getting the latest on the networking industry including plenty of information on 40/100 Gb Ethernet.

For more details on the conference including the full agenda and registration details, see http://www.ethernetsummit.com/.

EMC World 2010

If you see my posts from last year, EMC World has always been one of my favorite weeks of the year.  The conference is May 10-13th in Boston.  My presentation last year was the top attended for the entire conference, so the bar is set high for this year.  My presentation for this year is entitled Converged Data Center: FCoE, iSCSI and the future of storage networking.  It’s always a great sharing of information with so many people that I look forward to seeing.  For more details and for registration (there are some great gifts available if you register by February 28th), please click the graphic below.

Please post any questions that you have and let me know if you’ll be at any of the events listed.  If you are new to this site and interested in continuing the discussion on storage networking, please consider subscribing to this blog.

Stuart Miniman

http://blogstu.wordpress.com


Journey to the Virtualized Data Center: Virtualization and Networking Considerations

December 10, 2009

On December 15th and 16th, Cisco will be hosting a virtual trade show to highlight the Journey to the Virtualized Data Center.  Cisco has brought together 11 partners to share with you the best ways to solve the toughest data center challenges in networking, storage, applications, and physical infrastructure technologies.

Chris Carrier, Director of Marketing for EMC’s virtualization practice and I will be doing a Live Chat (Tuesday, December 15th, 1pm Eastern, 10am Pacific) from the EMC booth in the virtual trade show.  In addition to the top ten considerations for virtualization from Chris and the top ten considerations for networking from me, we look forward to answering your questions.

It’s been a busy year in both the networking and virtualization spaces; as we wrap up 2009, we hope you’ll take the opportunity to join us for this discussion.

For more on the conference, see Cisco’s Data Center Networks blog and register at the DCoF site.

If you are interested in continuing the discussion on storage networking, please consider subscribing to this blog.

Stuart Miniman

http://blogstu.wordpress.com


FCoE Ecosystem

October 5, 2009

Here is the 3rd video in a series to help educate on Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE):


For a full list of EMC FCoE resources, see my previous post The current state of FCoE.

Additionally, on the question of “end-to-end Ethernet”, see the discussion on Scott Lowe’s Why No Multi-Hop FCoE? blog post.

Both Cisco and Brocade have made announcements about new products for expanding the FCoE ecosystem.  Cisco’s Nexus 4000 provides the blade switch functionality that I discuss in the video.  They also have a whitepaper on FIP (FCoE initialization protocol) and FIP snooping which is part of what is needed for a multi-hop environment.  Brocade announced an FCoE blade for the DCX FC director product line.

Let me know if there are any related topics that you would like to see covered.

Comments are questions are always welcome and please consider subscribing to this blog.

Stuart Miniman

http://blogstu.wordpress.com


The current state of FCoE

September 24, 2009

Nigel Poulton has been posting some good articles about FCoE on http://blogs.rupturedmonkey.com/. It’s good to see a good discussion taking place, many people still don’t understand the basics, so it’s good to repeat and if you look at the details hopefully people will understand that FCoE shows great promise, with the caveat that we are still very early in the maturation of the technology.

A brief update on FCoE related standards

T11 FC-BB-5 has been ratified by T11 (so it is “done” although it still goes through some processing which is typically a “rubber stamp).

T11 FC-BB-6 is starting up and while the charter and timeline are not finalized, it will be discussing how to create larger FCoE configurations (allowing for creation of a “CEE Cloud”).

IEEE Data Center Bridging: the link level components (Priority Flow Control, Enhanced Transmission Selection and Data Center Bridging Exchange Protocol) are defined and should be ratified soon.  Congestion Notification is a 2010 target.  Layer 2 multipathing will be handled by the IETF TRILL standard which is defined, but not yet in products.

For more on the standards, see the presentations and papers below.

Product configuration today

EMC is supporting FCoE switches from Cisco and Brocade; Converged Network Adapters (CNA) from Emulex, QLogic and Brocade; OSes supported are Windows, Linux and VMware [as always, see the E-Lab Navigator for the latest]

Today, the configuration is from a CNA to FCoE switch (must have a switch, no support according to FC-BB-5 for server to storage w/o a switch; if you need this, use iSCSI) and from the switch you can then plug into the existing LAN and SAN.  Storage can either be plugged into the configuration via the SAN (through existing FC switches) or directly into the FCoE switch (today via FC or via FCoE when available).  Note that configurations of having FCoE traffic go through multiple FCoE (Ethernet) switches will require the updates which are being worked on in FC-BB-6 (although a small expansion of configurations specifically with blade servers should be able to be supported soon).  FCoE today is a consolidation at the server and access layer – full end-to-end solutions with larger aggregation will take time.

I have worked on a lot of FCoE collateral over the last year and thought it would be useful to create a list for reference:

YouTube

Intro to FCoE w/ EMC http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZWaOda8mVY – basic 101 of the technology

Deploying FCoE w/ EMC  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6IHMXEGRXs – the new equipment that you’ll need including cables, adapters and switches

FCoE Ecosystem http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExxilbDvZ1g – see FCoE Ecosystem post for more details

FCoE discussions w/ Kash Sheik of Cisco on the Storage (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTz9S0cSdNo) and Network (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1mI-eB8-iE) implications of fcoe

Presentations

My EMC World 2009 presentation: Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), iSCSI and the Converged Data Center – http://www.slideshare.net/stuminiman/fibre-channel-over-ethernet-fcoe-iscsi-and-the-converged-data-center

Innovation Network Lecture – Journey Towards the Converged Data Center (archived webinar) https://community.emc.com/docs/DOC-4398

Papers

Introduction to Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) http://www.emc.com/collateral/hardware/white-papers/h5916-intro-to-fcoe-wp.pdf (Updated Nov ’09)

Fibre Channel over Ethernet Techbook [from EMC E-Lab] http://www.emc.com/collateral/hardware/technical-documentation/h6290-fibre-channel-over-ethernet-techbook.pdf


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