Fibre Channel RAID Storage – The first choice for datacentres
Fibre channel is a high-speed network protocol and requires dedicated fibre channel switches and cards to create a SAN (Storage Area Network). It runs at 4, 8, 16Gb/s and 32Gb/s this provides block level storage to the host via direct fibre cable or by using a network switch. Using the WWN (world wide name) enables the storage to directly connect to the host at block level. Due to the nature of fibre channel, the networking protocol acts differently to a NAS whereby files are shared and accessed by users, fibre channel only allows for one host to see the disk block storage volume.
A Fibre Channel RAID storage solution will cost more than a comparable NAS, the benefits are increased performance, a raft of software and hardware features including snapshot, thin provisioning, remote replication, high availability, and scalability. Fibre Channel is backward compatible with two previous generations so a 16Gb/s Fibre Channel storage solution will also work over a 4/8Gb/s FC SAN.
Fibre Channel Connectivity
The simplest form of connecting up fibre channel is Point-to-Point this connects your Fibre Channel RAID storage directly to your server/workstation with an installed FC HBA using optical fibre cable. The next is FC-AL Fibre Channel arbitrated loop whereby all systems and storage are connected in a ring. The main issue with this type of connectivity is when a device causes a system interrupt or fails, this can cause the FC-AL to fail and everything then needs to re-sync.
Finally the most common type of connectivity in the datacentre today is switched fabric FC-SW whereby all devices are connected to a fibre channel switch(s) and this then manages all the connected devices to talk to one another, providing they have the correct switch port mapping. If a device or system fails it does not affect the rest of the FC network.
As a partner of Brocade (now Broadcom) we are able to supply a complete fibre channel switched infrastructure. Call us on 0207 193 5760 for details.