Why upgrading to a Gen 6 Fibre Channel network is a good idea

Upgrading to a next-gen Fibre Channel network provides the added performance needed to meet the demands of evolving technologies and workloads, along with other benefits.

Are you wondering if it's time to upgrade to a 32 Gbps Gen 6 Fibre Channel network? There are three key reasons to start thinking about making this move. They include Gen 6's ability to meet increasing performance needs of both evolving technologies and demanding workloads, as well as a host of other advantages Gen 6 provides.

1. Meeting the performance demands of new and evolving technologies

A Gen 6 Fibre Channel network doubles network throughput compared with 16 Gbps Gen 5. Higher throughput accelerates application response time and eliminates I/O bottlenecks. Gen 6 also introduces parallel linking, which makes it possible to aggregate four data lanes into one to create a single 128 Gbps link.

Organizations migrating to flash storage can benefit most from Gen 6 capabilities. As flash becomes more widely implemented, bottlenecks move from the storage devices to the network. Technologies such as nonvolatile memory express, NVMe over FC and 3D XPoint memory storage technology -- jointly developed by Intel and Micron to fill a gap in the storage market between dynamic RAM and NAND flash memory -- can help eliminate these bottlenecks and make better use of flash's capabilities. But they require adequate network bandwidth.

Organizations investing in these newer flash and memory technologies must have a network that enables them to realize the full potential of those technologies. If your Fibre Channel network can barely handle its current data requirements, it certainly won't be able to handle future ones. Eventually, you will need a network infrastructure that can deal with increasing workloads and deliver the necessary performance. The time to move to such a network is closer than you realize.

2. Addressing escalating workload demands

It's not just flash storage that requires better-performing networks. Today's workloads are putting more demands than ever on the networks that support them. AI, machine learning, big data analytics, virtual desktop infrastructures and data warehousing are among the applications driving greater network requirements.

Use cases for storage protocols

There are more of these applications in use today, and they're sporting more features and capabilities and demanding more resources than ever before.

3. Capitalizing on Gen 6's other benefits

Performance isn't the only reason to consider upgrading to Gen 6, though it remains the most compelling reason.

Performance isn't the only reason to consider upgrading to a Gen 6 Fibre Channel network, though it remains the most compelling one. Other benefits that you should consider include taking advantage of Gen 6's forward error correction (FEC) capability. FEC is a technique to deal with data transmission errors by sending redundant data that improves reliability by enabling bit error recovery.

According to the Fibre Channel Industry Association, Gen 6 Fibre Channel can also drive lower power consumption by incorporating protocol features that help improve energy use. In addition, Gen 6 offers N_Port ID virtualization, a technology that defines how multiple virtual servers can share a single physical FC port identification to make it easier to deploy server virtualization and scale out SAN fabrics.

Before making any decisions about upgrading to Gen 6, you should perform a thorough cost analysis to determine whether a Gen 6 Fibre Channel network is the right move. Take into account the cost of equipment and personnel and also factors such as productivity and customer satisfaction. These variables are more difficult to quantify but are just as important, if not more so.

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