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Emulex Unveils Flash Services Upgrades for its FC HBAs

By Pedro Hernandez

New tech improves virtualized workloads and big databases on flash-filled SANs.

Storage networking specialist Emulex today announced updates to its Gen 5 Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapters (HBAs) that promise to help data center operators make their virtualized and database workloads more reliable and faster by squeezing the most performance out of their flash arrays and server-side SSD caching solutions.

The new features, called ExpressLane and CrossLink, "deliver the best quality of service (QoS), performance, reliability and ultimately return on investment (ROI) on [your] flash/cache systems purchase," wrote Barbara Porter, senior product marketing manager for Emulex, in a company blog post. The standards-based technologies, which she noted are based "on the insanely reliable, high-performance FC protocol," are available at no cost to customers of the company's Gen 5 FC HBAs and Converged Fabric Adapters.

ExpressLane addresses the congestion that can result when flash and disk-based storage compete for SAN resources. "Emulex ExpressLane gives high priority, mission-critical workloads more chances to transmit by tagging the associated Logical Unit Number (LUN), so that flash traffic receives precedence," asserted the company in a statement.

As a result, the company's HBAs make it possible to provide improved SLAs, reduce latency in mixed workload environments for better QoS. In addition, it's easy to implement with "no changes to the existing Fibre Channel environment," claims Emulex.

CrossLink, as its name suggests, targets East-West data traffic jams that result from the increased data that is routed between server nodes in environments using platforms like VMware's vSphere vMotion.

Emulex CrossLink provides an in-band FC message passing solution that ensures storage device connectivity and delivers optimized performance using lossless, standards-based FC protocols. Instead of relying on TCP/IP and UDP, which are prone to connectivity issues in such network-intensive scenarios, CrossLink is an optimized and lossless in-band FC message passing solution. As a result, dropped packets are a thing of the past, according to Emulex. It also reduces latency and helps increase CPU utilization compared to UDP/IP.

ExpressLane and CrossLink, part of the company's Gen 5 FC Flash Services refresh, will be incorporated into a OneCommand Manager release during the first quarter of 2014.

To help diagnose issues stemming from physical SAN infrastructures, the company also announced that it has teamed with Brocade to integrate the latter's ClearLink diagnostics technology into the company's LightPulse Gen 5 FC HBAs.

The diagnostic tools perform electrical and optical loopback tests on both Brocade Gen 5 FC switches and Emulex Gen 5 FC HBAs, detecting faulty optics and cables that are generating increased error rates. The integration can help "identify and isolate optics and cable problems much faster – in a matter of minutes instead of days," the companies declared.

ClearLink support will arrive in the first quarter of 2014 for current Emulex Gen 5 FC HBAs and CFAs.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

  This article was originally published on Wednesday Oct 30th 2013
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