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New HPE SAN switch is based on Cisco Gen 6 FC technology

It may not set off fireworks, but Hewlett Packard Enterprise heads into the July 4 break with a finalized portfolio of Cisco-based StoreFabric Fibre Channel switching gear for its all-flash arrays.

The latest HPE SAN switch hardware is based on a Cisco chipset and includes the eight-port StoreFabric C-Series SN6610 32 Gbps Fibre Channel (FC) switch and the StoreFabric SN8500C FC director module. Cisco customers can upgrade existing chassis by inserting the larger blades.

“Upgrading from 8 Gbps to 16 Gbps gave a huge performance difference, and moving to 32-gig is another performance leapfrog. Cisco customers have been waiting for this product because they knew it would make it easier and less expensive to upgrade,” said Marty Lans, HPE’s general manager of storage connectivity.

Lans said the latest HPE SAN products are designed to serve as a department-level SAN, top-of-rack switch, or native end-of-row FC SAN extension. Customers can light up 32 ports on the SN6610C by incrementally licensing eight additional blades at a time. Onboard telemetry analyzes storage traffic from all ports at line rate.

The StoreFabric 48-port director allows customers to scale to 384 ports per chassis or 1,152 FC ports in a single 9U rack.  The module contains a backplane that HPE claims can provide 1.5 TB per second of throughput per slot. Aggregated duplex performance on the SN8500 is rated up to 1,536 Gbps.

Smart SAN storage automation software enables HPE SAN arrays to handle physical orchestration and volume management on behalf of the networking switch.

HPE released SAN switches based on Cisco rival Brocade’s Gen 6 Fibre Channel (FC)  technology two years ago. The Brocade product line was acquired by Broadcom in a deal worth nearly $6 billion in 2017.

The advent of powerful servers, coupled with the performance improvements native to NVMe flash, heighten the need for networking gear that can deliver faster storage. Experts expect initial NVMe over Fabrics deployments to utilize legacy FC, or move to FC over Ethernet to accommodate real-time data analytics.

Although data in backup, hyper-converged and secondary systems accounts for about 80% of storage, Lans said the remaining 20% relies on primary storage arrays. He said HPE SAN customers want help to integrate NVMe flash with existing FC investments.

“We expect a lot of customers to go in that direction. They already have the infrastructure from their primary array. When they want to go NVMe natively, the storage infrastructure is ready to go,” Lans said.

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