Emulex Blogs

Why Managing Corporate Data Makes You Captain Kirk

Posted February 2nd, 2016 by Jennifer Dion


Sitting at a desk confronted by a long task list and a queue of problems, who wouldn’t want to channel Captain Kirk? After all, he’s suave. He’s cool under pressure. And when you got into IT, you wanted to boldly go where no one has gone before, right? But when it comes to managing your company’s files, your experience might be like Captain Kirk’s problems at Deep Space Station K7.

While at the space station, the crew of the USS Enterprise was given permission for shore leave. When they returned to the ship, the Enterprise gained one additional space traveler, a small, furry pet called a tribble. The bad news came later, when Doctor McCoy realized that tribbles reproduce faster than rabbits on Red Bull. Within a few days, the seemingly innocuous little animals had overrun the Enterprise, consumed precious supplies, and even affected the operation of the ship.

Are Captain Kirk’s problems beginning to sound familiar?

Like a Tribble, Corporate Data Reproduces at an Astronomical Rate

According to Mr. Spock, in three days a single, already-pregnant tribble would produce 1,771,561 more tribbles, assuming an average litter of 10 every 12 hours. Corporate data is not that prolific, but consider these numbers from recent studies:GettyImages-Kirk_Tribbles

  • The amount of data worldwide approximately doubles every 18 months (IDC).
  • Annual data center IP traffic is projected to reach 10.4 zettabytes (ZB) by 2019 (Cisco).
  • In just a single year, between 2015 and 2016, the amount of mobile data generated will increase by 53% (Gartner).
  • Data generated by Internet of Things-connected devices will reach 507.5 ZB in 2019 (Cisco).

With this kind of explosive growth, it is vital to have a good strategy for handling corporate data. Data is not just multiplying at an astounding rate, it is also changing dramatically in nature.  To address this challenge, Cisco today introduced the MDS 9718, the industry’s highest density switch, which provides 768 line rate 16G Fiber Channel ports. You can read more about the MDS 9718 at http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/cisco-storage-networking-innovations-grow-consolidate-and-converge

Managing an Expanding Enterprise Data Center

When corporate data begins to overburden your storage, you can’t just beam files onto a Klingon ship. Fortunately, there are real world solutions to help you transport and manage your data, and a Fibre Channel Storage Area Network (SAN) is the logical choice for three reasons.

First, maintaining a SAN enables you to independently scale compute, networking and storage resources. Exponential data growth will not force you to replace compute servers along with your storage. Plus, the introduction of the Cisco MDS 9718 will give your enterprise data center the ability to grow and accommodate additional storage and connections.

Second, Fibre Channel is a mature and enterprise-hardened technology, ensuring a secure and stable environment for your data. Emulex, an industry pioneer with decades of Fibre Channel technology experience, delivers server Host Bus Adapters (HBAs) that customers say “just work.”

Finally, your budget is not expanding at the same astronomic rate as your corporate data, so the infrastructure you deploy has to be cost-effective. In 2016, purchases of 16Gb Fiber Channel HBAs will surpass those of 8Gb Fibre Channel (Avago, 2015), and as the 16Gb market has grown, prices for 16Gb HBAs and switches have fallen.  You can now purchase high-performance 16G adapters like the Emulex LPe16000 series for less than the 2015 cost of 8Gb adapters.  These affordable 16Gb HBAs transport data at speeds that complement those of today’s ultra-fast servers and arrays.

Transport Your Data at Warp Speeds

To optimize your data center performance, you need both speed and balance.  The diagram below illustrates why. Multi-core processors, fast DDR4 memory, and PCIe 3.0 have combined to create an I/O grinder inside the server. In comparison, adoption of all-flash arrays is causing storage capability to increase at an exponential rate.  Installing 16Gb Fibre Channel is no longer a question of why but when. Ensure that your proliferating data is generated, transported, and stored at warp speed!

Diagram for blog

Saving the Galaxy, One Data Center at a Time

While finding a way to deal with 1,771,561 tribbles is certainly difficult, Captain Kirk only had to do that for a single episode.  If you work in a corporate data center, handling data that will double in less than two years is an ongoing challenge.  Fortunately, if you have 16Gb Fibre Channel and solutions like the high-density Cisco MDS 9718, and the Emulex LPe16000 series HBAs, managing your modern day Enterprise will be “no tribble at all.”

The Dessert Is On Us: Upgrade your Fibre Channel to Gen 5 (16GFC)

Posted October 27th, 2015 by Saurabh Sureka

I like to eat at a particular restaurant in Silicon Valley and I have been a regular here for few years now. I have seen it grow from a hole-in-the-wall to 50-seater hosting C-level executives. It has always delivered. The fantastic repeat experience one would expect from a trusted restaurant – very tasty, on-time service and value for my money. As I enter the restaurant on my latest visit, I notice it has another upgrade. In a typical fashion, I enjoy my meal and as a perk for being   a regular – the dessert’s on the house.

I relish the dessert and reflect on my day. It has been a productive day in the valley: customer meetings (with enterprises looking for scale up and scale out storage), meeting start-ups (discussing how they can leverage Avago technologies in their product plans), partner meetings (to build out an ecosystem where end customers benefit) and engaging in conversations with sales and engineering teams.

Fibre Channel has had a similar run – it’s the trusted, purpose built, secure and enterprise proven storage technology. It has never disappointed and consistently provided the right value for money – to CIOs, Solution Architects, Systems Engineers and IT administrators across financial/banking/insurance, healthcare, retail, transportation and several other sectors. The latest Emulex LightPulse LPe 16000 series Gen 5 FC Host Bus Adapters (HBAs) have been deployed into mission critical SAN environments across the world, supporting few hundred thousand 16GFC ports with backwards compatibility to 8GFC and 4GFC speeds.

Now as a dessert (tiramisu, pie, strawberry cake, soufflé – eat one, eat all) – Emulex has partnered with Brocade to provide a rich set of additional features to the end-users at no additional charge. The feature set benefit the end-user to simplify deployment and management and increase system uptime. Tim Lustig from Brocade elaborates on the end-user benefits in his blog. We take a look at some of these features below and provide a sneak peek into what’s cooking in our kitchens.

Forward Error Correction (FEC)

A message traveling on a medium is similar to a sailor crossing an ocean. It has to face unpredictable weather on its onward journey and reach the destination without any damage. It helps if the sailor adds extra padding and cushioning – it provides it a better chance to withstand the rough weather.

The FEC feature does exactly that, it adds a little cushion to each FC frame so that when it reaches the destination it can detect and correct any errors. The bottom line is FEC improves frame reliability on the Fibre Channel network. By default, FEC will be enabled on the supported Emulex LightPulse® Gen 5 FC Host Bus Adapters (HBAs) and Brocade Gen 5 FC switches.

By using the FEC feature, end customers can optimize the performance of their storage network deployment and provide reliable and guaranteed delivery of frames.


Automation is a simple concept that saves Operating Expenses (OpEx) for any deployment. Whether you have a few-hundred node deployment or a few-thousand node deployment – it is a nightmare to manually locate a faulty cable or a faulty connector in the data center.  ClearLink provides an automated way to perform a step-by-step end-to-end signal integrity check and identify any cabling, optics or port issues. It can be initiated from the Emulex OneCommand Manager application. A few other insightful parameters like “link latency” and “cable length” are also provided by running this diagnostic test.

Link Cable BeaconblogPicture2

There are excruciating moments in a data center administrator’s life where he/she needs to locate a connection end-to-end. The traditional approach is to manually pull  the cables – a nightmare that can cost your job if the wrong one is pulled. The Link Cable Beacon feature “light up” (a LED port will glow) on either the switch port or the HBA port to make end-to-end identification easy.

This can dramatically reduce the time involved in physically locating the physical cable, especially in order to swap it out.  Emulex and Brocade jointly support Link Cable Beacon between HBA and switch ports to facilitate rapid port isolation.

Host Name Registration

In order to reduce the need to manually associate worldwide port names with servers, Emulex and Brocade provide support for Host Name Registration to automate the capture of this information from HBA ports.  Brocade Fabric Vision becomes the tracking tool, as opposed to manual spreadsheet-based systems.

Read Port Diagnostics

With Read Port Diagnostics capability, Brocade switches and Emulex HBA ports will self-report diagnostic information, including port speed, link errors, and SFP info (temperature, Tx and Rx power, etc.). Emulex and Brocade have implemented Read Port Diagnostics capabilities in order to enable more automated end-to-end Fabric Vision monitoring of the FC fabric and improve automated diagnostics.

To get more details on these and other Emulex solutions, visit our Fibre Channel page at http://www.emulex.com/products/fibre-channel-hbas/


Storage with Intense Network Growth and the Rise of RoCE

Posted February 4th, 2015 by Mike Jochimsen

Last month, the Entertainment Storage Alliances (www.entertainmentstorage.org) held the 14th annual Storage Visions conference in Las Vegas, highlighting advances in storage technologies utilized in consumer electronics, the media and entertainment industries. The theme of Storage Visions 2015 was Storage with Intense Network Growth (SWING), which was very appropriate given the explosions going on in both data storage and networking.

Continue reading…

Unleash Your Application Performance with Fibre Channel and Software-defined Storage

Posted January 28th, 2015 by Mike Jochimsen

Today, Emulex and DataCore announced that DataCore SANsymphony-V10 will provide support for Emulex Gen 5 (16Gb) Fibre Channel (FC) adapters as targets in SANsymphony servers.  The joint solution is available from DataCore and its channel partners.

Software-defined storage (SDS) solutions, such as DataCore SANsymphony-V10, turn industry standard servers into full-fledged storage arrays.  Typically, these servers are higher end x86 servers with lots of internal storage, lots of PCI Express (PCIe) slots for added flash storage, or SAS attached local storage.  While these storage arrays are fully functioning and can be used for primary shared storage, the typical use case for SDS and SANsymphony-V10 is to accelerate application performance as an in-line storage resource pool.


SANsymphony-V10 comes complete with a Random Write Accelerator engine, which can dramatically boost performance by caching data into DataCore’s RAM cache and later de-staging to back-end disk. This can improve I/O Operations Per Second (IOPS) by up to 3.6X for solid state disk (SSDs) and 33X for SATA disks.


When coupled with the low latency and high throughput of the Emulex Gen 5 FC HBA, this is a lightning fast solution for accelerating enterprise applications, virtualized servers and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) implementations. Emulex is working with DataCore to implement this solution in a number of environments where performance matters.

For more details on how you can unleash the performance of your enterprise applications with Emulex and DataCore, view the webcast here.

Catch a Rising Star – Nimble Storage and Fibre Channel

Posted November 18th, 2014 by Mike Jochimsen

Today, Nimble Storage announced its foray into Fibre Channel (FC) storage with support for Gen 5 (16Gb) FC in the Nimble CS-series Adaptive Flash arrays.  Wait, what? Why is Nimble, who cut their teeth on iSCSI attached hybrid storage, where they are blowing out huge numbers, moving into a “dying” market?  After all, Nimble blew past its own revenue guidance by 89% last quarter, so obviously they are doing something right.  The fact is, there are large deals to be had in FC storage and 16GFC is coming on strong, having doubled share in the last quarter to 10% of the total FC market. (Crehan Research, Sept. 2014 report, slide 13) So, maybe the rumors of FC’s death have been exaggerated.

Nimble was leaving money on the table.  Many of the world’s largest data centers run their mission-critical workloads on FC and will continue to do so due to its reliability, security and scalability.  Recently, the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) launched a campaign discussing FC as a trusted foundation for storage, showcasing such customers as AOL, Rackspace and Symantec.

Nimble Storage has been increasing its presence in large enterprises and this offering allows them to provide these customers with the suite of products to meet their needs across mission-critical enterprise applications, disk-based and in-memory databases, virtual/cloud environments and data analytics. The combination of FC with flash-based storage gives customers ideal conditions for a high performance, reliable storage architecture. With this release, Nimble is taking its business to the next level.

Emulex is proud to have partnered with Nimble Storage to enable FC support in these arrays.  Our many customers can now enjoy one more enterprise-class array, which supports Emulex performance leading Gen 5 FC technology end-to-end.  We look forward to catching the Nimble rising star and riding with them.  The combination of Emulex and Nimble Storage offers customers a very high performance and reliable option for running these mission-critical applications.

What Happens When You Cross an Open Source Tool with an Enterprise Data Center?

Posted November 3rd, 2014 by Mike Jochimsen

expressconfigThe emergence of new technologies and frameworks, many open source, has created a plethora of opportunities for customers to build innovative architectures for cloud computing, big data and new data storage paradigms.  We are seeing this with frameworks such as OpenStack, repositories such as Hadoop, and object storage technologies such as Ceph, that customers are hungry for solutions, and even more hungry for knowledge on how to implement them.  Each framework or technology brings with it a whole new opportunity for vendors, such as Emulex, to educate our customers with design guides, best practices and reference architectures.

To facilitate this, Emulex today introduced a new line of solutions called ExpressConfigTM.

The family of Emulex ExpressConfig solutions enables IT professionals to optimize I/O connectivity for cloud, Web-scale and enterprise environments. Designed for use with the Emulex OneConnect® OCe14000 family of 10Gb and 40Gb Ethernet (10GbE and 40GbE) Network Adapters and Converged Network Adapters (CNAs), ExpressConfig solutions will help customers get the most value out of the pre-designed integrated system. The solutions will include:

  • Integrated software drivers for OpenStack Neutron, Cinder and Horizon modules
  • Multi-function feature validation confirming key features that work as expected, in combination with other components
  • Performance characterization for important I/O metrics
  • Solution design guides with configuration techniques and best practices
  • Solution specific technical services and support


Solution Blueprints for OpenStack

Working with its partners, Emulex created ExpressConfig Solutions for advanced storage, networking, and big data applications that will be included with upcoming OpenStack releases. These solution blueprints build upon current capabilities to increase tenant density and resource utilization while improving performance, end-to-end Quality of Service (QoS) policy enforcement and overall power consumption.

The solution blueprints will address key pain points such as storage performance and scalability, virtualization and CPU overhead, tenant vulnerability to “noisy neighbor” effects that misallocate bandwidth and data protection and accessibility for database applications.


The series of ExpressConfig Solutions will include:

Advanced Networking

Incorporate bandwidth partitioning and traffic classification into global QoS policies and accelerate virtual networks with hardware offloads

Big Data and Analytics

Improve processing efficiency and resource utilization for Hadoop and NoSQL data analytics.

Bare Metal Provisioning

Provision physical and virtual I/O resources from a common orchestration framework and deploy SR-IOV bypass tenant services for maximum performance.

Cloud Storage

Increase the performance and scalability of block and object storage while reducing CPU overhead and power consumption.

These ExpressConfig Solutions bring with them some measurable benefits, such as:

  • Saving time: deploy quickly and efficiently
  • Lowering costs: Reduce infrastructure and operational expenses
  • Simplifying and enhancing the deployment of OpenStack solutions
  • Increasing confidence in scaling cloud and Web-scale environments
  • Accelerating open source cloud deployments with best practice guidelines
  • Increasing SLA attainment

Key Features include:

  • Integrated software drivers
  • Multi-function feature validation
  • Performance characterization for important I/O metrics
  • Solution design guides with configuration techniques and best practices
  • Technical services and support

Learn more about ExpressConfig solutions in our press release today, and stay tuned for additional solution blueprints in the future

RoCE goes horizontal! New IBTA specification enables application acceleration throughout the data center

Posted September 16th, 2014 by Mike Jochimsen

Today, Emulex participated with the InfiniBand Trade Association (IBTA) in announcing an enhancement to the RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) specification, which will be known as “RoCEv2.”  The primary enhancement that RoCEv2 adds to the existing RoCE specification is routability, which breaks the boundary of Layer 2 networks and enables enterprises to use RoCE to accelerate applications anywhere in the data center.  This innovation enables data centers to expand the value of RoCE to multiple domains and physical locations.

RDMA enables more efficient communication by allowing data to be moved directly between memory on two servers without CPU involvement on either of the servers, also called zero copy networking.  This processing occurs on the RDMA-capable Network Interface Card (NIC) and bypasses the TCP/IP stack, accelerating the movement of data.  This allows the data to be directly delivered to the remote memory on the destination server and reduces the CPU I/O workload on both servers for other processing.

While RDMA originated as a feature of InfiniBand networks, efforts to support RDMA on Ethernet have been underway for a number of years.  The initial RoCE specification in 2010 brought RDMA to Ethernet, but required lossless networks that limited its applicability.  Today, one of the primary uses for RoCE is for high performance data transfers on Windows Server 2012 through Server Message Block (SMB) Direct, as well as being supported in various flavors of Linux.  The primary benefits of RoCE are due to the lower latency of offers, better network utilization and lower CPU utilization due to the TCP/IP bypass and hardware offload.  RoCE also furthers the concept of cable consolidation due to the convergence of another protocol onto a single wire from the server to the network.

However, with the continued growth in virtualization, cloud computing and dispersed big data repositories, the ability to accelerate data becomes a global data center issue rather than a local issue confined to a single Layer 2 network.  With routability, RoCEv2 bridges this gap and keeps pace with the expansion of traditionally localized data center functions as they disperse throughout the data center.   In order to accomplish this, the RoCEv2 spec replaces the InfiniBand network layer with an IP header and UDP header above the Ethernet link layer.  This allows RoCE to be routed across traditional IP-based routers.  The protocol stack comparison and frame formats are shown in Figures 1 and 2 below.

Figure 1: RDMA protocol stacks side by side

Figure 1: RDMA protocol stacks side by side


Figure 2: RoCEv2 frame format

Figure 2: RoCEv2 frame format

With this innovation, the industry is able to keep pace with the growing need for both high performance and scale-out architecture in the enterprise.  From traditional enterprise, such as Wall Street banks and hyperscale cloud data centers to large server and storage OEMs, RoCEv2 will enable the continuation of their path to convergence and very dense data centers.

Faster than the speed of SSD!

Posted September 15th, 2014 by Jeet Nagda

Emulex is pushing the boundaries and continuing to push Fibre Channel to new levels. We just released two new features for download on the 10.2 firmware on the Gen 5 (16Gb) Fibre Channel (FC) Host Bus Adapters (HBAs). The first, ExpressLaneTM, is a host side application Quality of Service  (QoS) that we first discussed at SNW Europe last fall.

Bringing queue management to critical applications ensures performance and Service Level Agreements  are met even in peak network traffic. Enterprises now implementing solid state disk (SSD) or flash technology in their fabric are enjoying the blazing fast performance it offers. However, when the Storage Area Network (SAN)-connected flash traffic gets stuck behind lower-priority traffic, users can experience latency and delays in application performance for mission-critical applications. Emulex ExpressLane™ works by highlighting a Logical Unit Number (LUN) on the SAN that has critical data being sent and creating a priority lane. The host side HBA ensures that the frames intended for that LUN will get out quicker and targets the priority LUN. This means that slower high throughput operations, such as backup, will not slow down mission-critical data flow leaving a flexible network. ExpressLane offers a digital ‘carpool lane’ to enterprise networks to meet today’s problems.

The second feature – Brocade ClearLink - adds support for Brocade’s diagnostic (D_port) feature. This Emulex supported feature enables HBAs with Gen 5 FC optics to perform a battery of diagnostic tests with Brocade switches to find errors before they impact communication and pinpoint faulty optics. Made by engineers for engineers, this feature helps save time and keeps the network running smoothly before critical crashes. Finding a single optic or faulty cable can take hours by testing one at a time. Automate the tests and sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee while the network diagnoses itself with Brocade ClearLink on Brocade switches and Emulex HBAs.

Check out this vlog Emulex senior vice president of marketing did recently with Brocade vice president of product management and product marketing, Jack Rondoni discussing the joint partnership between Emulex and Brocade. In the vlog, they talk about some of the changing needs in today’s data centers and how Emulex and Brocade together can solve those problems through Brocade ClearLink and ExpressLane technologies and Emulex and Brocade Gen 5 FC technology.

Intel Haswell launch takes servers to the next level of performance

Posted September 8th, 2014 by Mike Jochimsen

Today, Intel announced the latest addition to the Xeon product line, the Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-2600/1600 v3 product family, formerly codenamed Haswell.  Important? Well, important enough for many of the major server vendors to plan announcements around their next major server lines to coincide.  Emulex found plenty of cool new features in this product which, when combined with our features, provides some optimizations for next generation workloads for enterprises, telcos and cloud providers.

Continue reading…

Emulex Announces Bare Metal Provisioning and Other Cool VMworld Topics

Posted August 25th, 2014 by Mike Jochimsen

Today at VMworld, Emulex announced our latest products, the Emulex OpenWorks Connector and the OneConnect® OCec14000 series of Cloud Adapters.  Together, these products continue Emulex’s relentless march towards opening up programmability of our adapters, by interfacing with third party applications.  In the case of the OpenWorks Connector, it is for configuration and management of the adapters by third party applications.

The first solution we announced today is the OpenWorks Connector Boot Manager integration with Egenera PAN Manager to allow for bare metal provisioning of rack servers.  You may be familiar with Egenera, who was an early provider of blade solutions in 2000.  Since that time, the company has specialized in automation and management solutions and today ships their Cloud Suite and PAN Manager product, which provisions and manages pools of compute resources.

PAN Manager 8.0, announced today, integrates with OpenWorks Connector Boot Manager to extend the automatic provisioning to rack servers.  With this solution, Emulex and Egenera will have the ability to stage large volumes of rack servers, divide them into pools of images, then automatically configure and image these servers through the Emulex OCec14000 Cloud Adapter without having to fully boot them.  This can easily scale to thousands of servers, allowing for mass deployment of bare metal servers into cloud, Web-scale, and enterprise environments.   This works across heterogeneous servers as well, so those thousands of servers do not need to be identical clones and can have different vendor’s vanity plates on the front.

The combination of the Emulex OpenWorks Connector and Egenera PAN Manager provides a unique solution in the market today, due to its ability to take what was once a blade-only capability and bring it the more popular rack server environment.  In the past, to get a rack server to a usable state required an operating system installation and minimum configuration of the network adapter to get the server network attached.  At that point, a gold image would be installed across the network.  The solution announced today automates that entire process, eliminating the manual steps to get the OS installed.  Because it can be done simultaneously across multiple servers, the ROI grows linearly with each server added to the pool.

Emulex sees this as the first of numerous solutions which will be released on the OpenWorks Connector platform.  Stay tuned for future announcements about support for additional provisioning tools and also additional points of integration to further manage server network connectivity through the Emulex OCec14000 Cloud Adapter.

In addition to the OpenWorks Connector, Emulex will also be showing and talking about a number of other features and cool toys at VMworld, in booth #542:

  • We are showing how Emulex OCe14000 Series of 10 and 40Gb Ethernet adapters, with a turbo engine that supports overlay networks in VMware NSX, can increase throughput by up to 70% while decreasing CPU utilization by up to 50%.
  • We have a presentation, from one of our technical marketing engineers extraordinaire, Alex Amaya, which will show you how we can help deploy VMware Virtual SAN with half the network adapter ports of similar solutions.
  • We will show you how the Emulex OCe14000 Series is the “Swiss Army knife” of network adapters, providing hardware offload support for block storage protocols, overlay networks offload support, NIC partitioning support to divide Emulex NIC port into four separate NIC functions.
  • And finally, we are showing two cool servers from our partners Hyve and Quanta, with Emulex adapters inside.

Here’s the schedule of presentations at the show, every hour from 12-5 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday:


Like every year, this promises to be a VMworld full of high octane events and lots of new products introduced.  At Emulex, we believe our products are right in the forefront of innovation and efficiency.  We provide real data center solutions, which allow our customers to scale from physical, to virtual, to cloud, while optimizing the use of your compute resources, to get the most efficiency out of your servers and network.

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