Welcome!

Containers Expo Blog Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Amit Gupta

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

Containers Expo Blog: Article

Increasing Throughput Doesn’t Always Increase Performance

Upgrading to FC 8Gbps isn't as straightforward as it seems

A wise man once told me that if there were a major car crash further up the highway, having a faster car would only get me to the accident quicker. Obvious right? Not so it seems when the wisdom of these words is applied to the analogy of the growing number of SAN infrastructures currently upgrading from 4Gbps to 8Gps. ‘Faster means quicker, means better' is the commonly heard sales pitch used to seduce vulnerable IT Directors who dream of ‘a guaranteed performance improvement that would solve the headache of their ever slowing applications'.

Sadly though for many of those that bit the 8Gbps apple, the significant improvement never came and like a culprit with no shame the same voices returned claiming that this was the fault of the outdated servers, HBAs and storage systems which also now needed to be upgraded. So down the 8Gbps road they went which now extended from the fabric all the way to the server platform, but still no significant improvement and if so certainly not one that could justify such a heavy investment. Like any infrastructure, being unaware of the SAN inevitably means that any unseen problems caused by error statistics such as CRC errors, physical link errors, protocol errors, code violations, class 3 discards etc. (i.e. the car crash) would remain, regardless of whether you get there at 4Gbps or 8Gbps. So how could such a simple concept be lost amongst the numerous 4Gbps to 8Gbps upgrades that are now taking place across the SAN stratosphere?

The main reason is that there are clearly several seemingly instant advantages with the 8Gbps standard. Having one byte consisting of 8 bits, giving you a potential 800 MB per second gives you the immediate impression that you are able to potentially double the transmission of your data within the same single cable. Logic would then dictate that with both SAN switches and storage systems having 8Gbps ports, you also now have the freedom to double the number of hosts to a single storage port without the fear of any performance impact. Logic would also conclude that extra bandwidth would be a blessing in a virtual environment where dozens of VMs scramble for a limited number of ports while blade servers subsequently struggle to house the physical space for their growing HBA demands. Couple this with the ever-nearing cost equivalence to their 4Gbps component counterparts and such advantages become unavoidable choices for end users.

Indeed it's the drive for ‘more throughput' in this virtualisation era that has really kicked the 8Gbps juggernaut into top gear. Pre-virtualisation world, (which surprisingly wasn't even that long ago yet already seems like an aeon) the relationship between server, application, SAN and storage were straightforward and one-dimensional. A single host with one application would connect to a dual redundant SAN fabric that in turn would be mapped to a single LUN. Today everything has multiplied, with a single physical server hosting numerous virtual servers and applications being connected to several storage interfaces and numerous LUNs.

Solutions such as N_Port ID Virtualization NPIV and N_Port Virtualization (NPV) have gone even further by enabling the virtualization of host and switch ports. Now via NPIV your single HBA can be termed an N_Port and consequently register multiple WWPNs and N_Port ID numbers. So now what was once just a single physical server can now house numerous virtual machines each with their own Port IDs, which in turn allows them to be independently zoned or mapped to LUNs. On the switch side, NPV presents the switch port as an NPIV host to the other switches. Hence expanding a SAN can be rapidly deployed without the burden of worrying about multiple domain IDs.

So while the case to upgrade to 8Gbps is on the offset quite compelling, further analysis would show that this isn't necessarily the case. Reality and not logic shows that a lot of the aforementioned advantages have been related to ‘guess work' and assumptions. Moreover and ironically the rush to 8Gbps is actually causing more problems than were previously existent within data centers unbeknownst to the majority of end users due to their inability to soundly monitor what's happening in the SAN. To begin with if we revisit the concept of FC bit rates and their constant increase from 2Gbps to 4Gbps and now 8Gbps, one should be aware that the consequence is a proportionally decreasing bit period. Hence this now shrunken window of data requires an even more robust physical infrastructure than before and becomes even more susceptible to potential errors - think Michael Schumacher driving his Ferrari top speed on the same public road Morgan Freeman took Miss Daisy.

While you may not have had performance issues with 4Gbps, by upgrading to 8Gbps and its greater sensitivity to light budget you instantly expose yourself to more bit stream errors, bit-error rates and multiple retries i.e. delays, disruption and performance degradation of your mission critical applications. Of course this isn't always the case but when FC cables are bent at 70 degrees or more, quality of optical transceivers / in-line connectors are not upgraded or small specks of dirt reside on the face of optical cable junctions, your environment suddenly becomes doubly susceptible to jitters and major errors on your SAN fabric. Factors which were previously transparent at 4Gbps become significant performance degraders in the highly sensitive mould of 8GBps.

So as organizations upgrade to 8Gbps without having taken these factors into consideration, we see countless troubleshooting and even HBA replacements as there is no real insight into these transmission errors from current SRM tools. Orange OM2 fiber-optic cables may get replaced for aqua OM3 fiber-optic cables and SFP transceivers swapped for SFP+ transceivers leaving administrators thinking they've solved the problem. Worst of all though such fire-fighting tactics often lead to a temporary elimination of performance problems, only to then without any explicable reason rear their ugly head like a persistent zombie from a horror flick that refuses to die.

Given the recent revelations in the industry that SAN fabrics are being over-provisioned on average by at least a factor of 5 times, there clearly is little reason for most companies to upgrade to 8Gbps. When all of your applications are receiving the bandwidth that only 5% of your applications actually need, going straight to 8Gbps leads to even poorer configuration and further waste. This scenario becomes even more complicated given the fact that server virtualization has led administrators to over- provision their SAN infrastructure in a fear that they can't accommodate their bandwidth requirements. Also with an increase of SSDs being deployed in the majority of enterprise infrastructures, going up to 8Gbps seems a natural way of making the most of their expensive disk investment. Problem is that having SSDs running on upgraded yet over-provisioned links which already suffer from jitters may give some performance improvement over their mechanical disk counterparts but are hardly running at optimum levels.

To solve such a dilemma and gain the true benefits of an 8Gbps upgrade it's important to have an instrument which captures both directions of every SCSI I/O transaction from start to finish on every link carrying your business-critical data. In a recent discussion with IBM's DS8000 specialist Jens Wissenbach, it was agreed that the solution of deploying TAPs on all the key links within the data center is the only way to truly detect the number of light levels, signal quality, throughput metrics, latency and response times, as well as protocol violations. With such real-time visibility into your FC infrastructure the administrator can quickly determine if any of the applications are in actual need of an excess to 4Gbps or where in fact the performance problems are coming from whether that be a bent cable, a speck of dirt or an outdated SFP.

TAPs such as those provided by the company Virtual Instruments, will soon be the natural replacement for patch panels across all enterprise data centers. But their role could also be the tool that allows end users to provision their SAN links to properly accommodate their SSD and VMware requirements without over-provisioning and being blinded by performance degradation that is beyond the scope of their SRM tool. So as Fibre Channel vendors are planning to start rolling out 16Gbps products for next year and with the news that the standard for 32Gbps Fibre Channel is already being worked on, it's imperative that such upgrades take place with the correct preparation so as to maximize the benefits of such an investment.

More Stories By Archie Hendryx

SAN, NAS, Back Up / Recovery & Virtualisation Specialist.

@ThingsExpo Stories
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smart...
DXWorldEXPO LLC, the producer of the world's most influential technology conferences and trade shows has announced the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO "Early Bird Registration" is now open. Register for Full Conference "Gold Pass" ▸ Here (Expo Hall ▸ Here)
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICC-USA, a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of ...
Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
We are seeing a major migration of enterprises applications to the cloud. As cloud and business use of real time applications accelerate, legacy networks are no longer able to architecturally support cloud adoption and deliver the performance and security required by highly distributed enterprises. These outdated solutions have become more costly and complicated to implement, install, manage, and maintain.SD-WAN offers unlimited capabilities for accessing the benefits of the cloud and Internet. ...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
I think DevOps is now a rambunctious teenager - it's starting to get a mind of its own, wanting to get its own things but it still needs some adult supervision," explained Thomas Hooker, VP of marketing at CollabNet, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...