Upgrading to 8 Gbps Fibre Channel SAN: Benefits and challenges

Despite 8 Gbps Fibre Channel speed benefits, users must plan carefully and take compatibility challenges into consideration before upgrading.

When 8 Gbps Fibre Channel (FC) appeared on the market a few years ago, adoption was slow. It was priced much higher than its predecessor, 4 Gbps Fibre Channel, and users didn't see the need to upgrade when their current storage networking technology was working well for them. However, 8 Gbps Fibre Channel and Fibre Channel SANs have begun making inroads at IT organisations. Pricing for 8 Gbps is now almost equal to 4 Gbps, and users can upgrade servers, switches and disks with 8 Gbps FC in installments. But despite the speed benefits of 8 Gbps Fibre Channel, it often comes with complications and challenges that users must be aware of before upgrading.

To help you decide whether or not 8 Gbps Fibre Channel storage is right for your storage environment, we've compiled our top five tips and articles on the technology. Learn how to upgrade your SAN with 8 Gbps Fibre Channel; read about the benefits and challenges of 8 Gbps Fibre Channel; find out the differences between 8 Gbps FC, Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) in our storage networking tutorial; and read about new 8 Gbps Fibre Channel SAN and Fibre Channel switch products from Cisco Systems Inc. and Brocade Communications Systems Inc.

8 Gbps Fibre Channel: How to upgrade your SAN

Now that pricing for 8 Gbps FC is similar to that of 4 Gbps Fibre Channel, more and more IT organisations are adopting it for their SANs. However, upgrading a Fibre Channel SAN to 8 Gbps isn't only about the price; complications can arise, so users have to take this transition into careful consideration. In this tip, find out what you should consider before upgrading to 8 Gbps Fibre Channel, including future bandwidth needs, whether to use director or edge switches, pricing issues, virtualization and how 8 Gbps FC works in different environments. Read the full tip on upgrading to 8 Gbps Fibre Channel.

8 Gbps Fibre Channel promises bandwidth and data storage port boost

One of the biggest selling points of 8 Gbps Fibre Channel is its promise to double the speed of SAN traffic and boost the number of hosts that connect to a data storage port. And if it can do that, your SAN hardware footprint and data centre costs may decrease. However, there are several challenges associated with an 8 Gbps Fibre Channel SAN. In this Q&A with Steve Pinder, principal consultant at GlassHouse Technologies (UK), find out the benefits of 8 Gbps Fibre Channel, but also see what might get in your way of upgrading, such as device placement and power usage and cooling. Read the full 8 Gbps FC interview.

Storage networking tutorial: Upgrading to 8 Gbps Fibre Channel, 10 GbE and FCoE

Storage networking technology is continually marching toward "better" and "faster." Although the upgrades promise improvements in your network and your data center, making the move to a higher-end storage network can be very complicated, with potential incompatibility problems and a steep cost. Read more about storage networking upgrades in this tutorial.

Cisco launches MDS 9148 entry-level 8 Gbps Fibre Channel switch

Cisco launched a new 8 Gbps Fibre Channel switch in April 2010, the Cisco MDS 9148, which can scale from 16 to 48 ports, and runs at 8 Gbps with no oversubscription. This FC switch is Cisco's first product to support 8 Gbps FC, includes features from the MDS 9500 and is aimed at organisations with a lot of virtual servers. Read more about the Cisco MDS 9148 in this article.

Brocade launches denser 8 Gbps Fibre Channel director cards following Cisco gains

Brocade launched denser 8 Gbps Fibre Channel director cards in June 2010, which were designed to increase the port count and throughput on its DCX Fibre Channel Backbone director devices. The company launched the new cards in response to Cisco's advancements in its FC switches. Read more about Brocade's advancements in 8 Gbps Fibre Channel in this article.

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